Finding sources

This page provides information from the NTNU University Library about where and how to find literature and other useful material when writing a paper. The page also explains how to critically evaluate sources. 

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As a rule of thumb you should use sources when writing your paper. You can use different types of sources. Definitions can often be found in encyclopedias or textbooks. Basic information and in-depth approaches to a narrow topic can usually be found in books.

If you are searching for research conclusions and in-depth information about specific topics journal articles surely are your best bet.

On this page you will find information about where to find information, how to find it and how to choose which information you want to use.

Where to search?


Is a search engine where you can search through most of what the NTNU University Library has to offer; books, articles, journals, music, films and electronic resources, etc.

 Search in Oria

Search the NTNU University Library’s collection or choose Norwegian Academic Libraries if you can’t find what you are searching for in our collection.

To order, or see your account, you have to log in.

Watch the video and learn how to order inter-library loans. Click the translation icon for English text.

Video - make a reservation in Oria

Why use books?

Academic books provide overviews and in-depth information about specific topics. A textbook, an encyclopedia, or a chapter from a academic book may be just what you need in order to find information on different subjects relevant to you.

Why use articles?

Articles are more “in-depth” and formulate off a topic. Here you will find the newest research within a specific topic.

See more about the research article.

Google Scholar

allows you to search articles, theses, abstracts, etc. The NTNU University Library’s digital collection is available to students and employees of NTNU via Google Scholar.

 Search in Google Scholar


By searching in an academic database you will get more specific results on the subject of your interest.

In Oria you can browse our collection of databases or choose a database by category/subject area.

  • Go to Oria and choose “Databases (A-Å)”.

Databases (A-Å)

  • Choose “Category/subject area”.

Category/subject area

You can also search articles, books and other material in interdisciplinary databases, for example:

  • Scopus - interdisciplinary database with a large collection of articles and conference papers
  • Web of Science - interdisciplinary database with journals of high impact factor

Getting access

You must be logged into the NTNU network to get access to our electronic resources. Outside the campus, you must connect via VPN or via software farm.

Most subject databases or Google Scholar have a NTNU link to the article/book in full text. If the document is not available online, you can order it from the library.

Subject blogs

The NTNU University Library’s employees responsible for a specific subject have gathered resources within their field on NTNU University Library subject pages and blogs.

 Go to subject pages and blogs

How to search?

Search techniques

Find good keywords and concepts

Before you start, ask yourself:

  • Are there other words that can be used in searching, such as synonyms or related concepts?
  • Is the spelling correct?
  • Is the search word too general or too specific?

Getting too many results?

  • Refine the search. Most databases let you refine your search by year, language, type of publication, etc.
  • Use more specific search words. You will get better results by searching "children and depression" rather than "child psychology".
  • Combine keywords for a more precise search.

Getting few results?

  • Use truncation.
  • Try other words or synonyms.
  • Try to expand your search.
  • Make sure your search words are spelled correctly.

 Do more advanced literature search

How to critically evaluate sources?

When searching you should as a rule of thumb do it in several sessions.

After the first session you have a starting point. Go through the list and use for example these following criteria:

  • Is the document relevant to your purpose? (For example consider the title vs. the research question)
  • Where is the document published? (For example academic journal or scientific journal)
  • What year is the document published?

If the document is still relevant after these initial questions, read the abstract (the summary) and see if it still seems relevant. Now you are left with a list of articles and documents that advance to the next round. Now you should look at the following:

  • Is the document published in a peer-reviewed journal or another scientific source?
  • Does the article (if it is an article) follow the IMRAD structure?
  • Are the research methods used well described?
  • Is there a good and varied bibliography at the end?

If the document still seems relevant and within the limitations you have described in your method chapter, it will be included in the next round. Now you have a list of articles or other documents that you can read carefully and consider using.

Confused? Watch this video: 

Click the translation icon for English text.

Movie: How to critically evaluate sources

Tips: The Norwegian Centre for Research Data has information about journals and peer-reviewed articles. Note that not all journals are registered and what is written about peer-review is about the journal in general. Not all articles that are published are automatically peer-reviewed.

Video about selection of articles:

Click the translation icon for English text.

Video about selection of articles

Courses in literature search

The NTNU University Library offers courses and guidance, among other things in literature search.

See also the theme page about literature search for students and the theme page about literature search for employees.

We recommend PhD on track for our PhD students.

Frequently asked questions

How to find recommended articles?

You can search articles in Oria or other databases. You will find information about conducting your search on Oria’s frontpage. Remember to use quotation marks when searching the title of an article.

I can’t access articles in full text or the material can’t be located at the library. What do I do?

You can order materials from another library if it is not available at our library or online. Sign in to Oria and choose the link “Request” once you have found the article. This service is free of charge for NTNU staff and students, but external users must pay for the service. Remember to sign in to order. See guidance.

See also how to borrow and order from the library.


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