Starting a literature search

Information searching: where to start? Useful sources and starting points for  literature  searches.

Here are some starting points related to literature searches needed in writing research papers or seminar assignments. The idea is that you should find the compilation of this list useful also later in your studies. When finding useful sources and starting points, you may use Nelli search portal. Nelli Quick Search Guide can be found here.

Library catalogues

Library catalogues form an important source of metadata. In online catalogues you will find information related to both printed publications  as well as electronic resources which are available to you. Compile here a list of those library catalogs (and their URLs) which are most important to you. Aalto University Otaniemi Campus Library´s ALLI, TENTTU and AALTODOC you should already know.

Nelli portal: Select Databases -> Find Database -> Category -> General -> Library Catalogues and then choose "Go".


All electronic journals, also open access journals accessible at Aalto University can be found in Nelli Portal. Select Find e-Journal. You may search e-journals by browsing, searching by name or a part of the name or by ISSN number or by subject. Printed journals subscribed to the Technical Schools of Aalto University can be found in ALLI database. There are still some journals in printed form only.

Compile here a list of those journals (and their URLs) which are most important to you.

Other databases (reference and fulltext databases)

At Aalto University you have a good selection of different databases to choose from. Databases can be found via Nelli-portal. Choose those which are most relevant from your point of view and list them here.  
Please NOTE that by reference and fulltext databases here we do not mean library catalogues but systems which contain discipline or field specific collection of literature references. Nelli portal: Select Find database and then choose "Category". Define your category and subcategory in your field of study. In Nelli portal you can check database descriptions with the (i)-button.

Patents and standards

Graphs and descriptions of technical instruments or innovations can be found in patents. Europe´s network of patent databases allows you to search and browse for patents The Finnish SFS standards are available in Nelli portal.  Please note that e.g. the IEEE standards may be used as part of the IEEE/IEE Electronic Library service.

Compile here a list of organizations producing standards relevant to your field of interest (and their URLs)

Nelli portal: Select Find database and then choose "locate". Type: choose standards or patents.


Reference information of bachelor's theses and fulltexts of many master's theses and almost all dissertations at Aalto University can be found at Aaltodoc.
For dissertations and thesis of other universities it is usually wise to look for them in library catalogues and university´s Web sites (like reports).

You need not to compile a list of reviews here now but in  PART 3 try to locate some thesis or dissertations  in your field of interest. 

Nelli portal: You can find theses from University library catalogues.


A review covers a certain topic, includes several different information sources and gives the reader a picture of the whole. A reliable review is valuable because it is an expert´s evaluation and opinion of the progress done in a certain field over a period of time. A review also includes an exhaustive list of references. You can save a lot of time and money if you find a good review right at the beginning of your own research.

Reviews can be found in year books and in the important journals. The review articles often start with titles such as Advances in..., Annual Review of... Progress in .... Look for reviews in library online catalogues and in reference databases.

You need not compile a list of reviews here but in PART 3 try to locate some reviews in your field of interest.


Conference presentations are often found in the Internet before the actual Conference Proceedings is published but the access to these may be restricted. You will find conference proceedings in library catalogues and individual conference papers and articles are indexed in refrence databases. See also webpages of the scientific societies, they usually organise conferences and maintain lists of upcoming events. 

You need not compile a list of conferences now but in PART 3 try to locate some proceedings or conference papers in your field of interest.


Library catalogues usually include a good selection of reports. However, an increasing number of reserch reports will be found directly via the Web pages of an institution or laboratory.

Compile here a list of those univerisites, in Scandinavia or elsewhere  (and their URLs) which are relevant to your field of study.

Other important research organisations and institutes are e.g.

Scientific associations

act often as scientific publishers. They may publish journals, year books and conference proceedings.

Compile here a list of  associations relevant to your field of interest (and their URLs).

Internet subject gateways, directories and  link collections

There are services which collect pointers to  Internet documents and services by subject or interest group.

Compile here those services  which are on your field of interest (and their URLs).

Last modified: Monday, 19 October 2015, 10:03 AM