Library course in literature searches and source assessment for MA-students in Ibsen studies

This course is tailored to students in IBS 4000 and aims to support the students in formulating a research question through literature searches; conducting literature searches to map the research done on a topic; assessing sources; and managing sources. 

Course program

Tour of the library

We begin with a video-tour of the library with a focus on the collections that pertain to Henrik Ibsen (both the primary and the secondary literature) and the services we offer.

If you can come to campus, you can book a colloquium room or study space at the library in the TP-system.

You can get help from IT-support online, in Zoom, or by phone.

Searching for literature

In this section I show you how to get the most out of the library's discovery tool Oria and databases we subscribe to that are relevant to your field (e.g. The International Ibsen Bibliography and the MLA International Bibliography). I begin by gathering some ideas about possible thesis topics. I then demonstrate how to conduct advanced literature searches based on some of your ideas, showing you how to find the most relevant and reliable literature that pertains to your topic; how to access the literature as a UiO-user; and how to keep track of your sources in Oria. These are some of the search tools I will demonstrate:

  • how to do advanced searches to map the research done on a topic using keywords,
  • how to use truncation with asterisks to get more results (feminis*),
  • how to use quotation marks to search for exact phases ("feminist theory"),
  • how to search with Boolean terms (AND, OR, NOT) for best list of results,
  • how to tweak and narrow your search with various facets,
  • and how to search in different scopes.

Exercise: literature searches

In this section of the course, you will have the chance to work on your own searches. The sources you gather need to be academic; either scholarly books (or chapters from scholarly books) or peer-reviewed journal articles. Add them to your bibliography in alphabetical order, using the recommended reference style. In addition, save your new sources in your favorites in Oria (see the pin in the top right corner, next to your name), and give them a label. This is to help you keep better track of your research, organizing your sources according to topics in your "My favorites" list. 

Places to search for literature

What are your experiences with literature searches, where have you searched for literature in the past? Some places you can search are:

  • Oria: the library's catalog and discovery tool (see how to get the most out of your searches)
    Oria is a discovery tool/search engine that allows you to search the library’s resources (i.e. material and databases that we have paid for), such as books, articles, magazines, music, movies, online resources etc. 

  • Databases that are relevant to languages and literatures (such as the Ibsen bibliography and MLA)
    Oria is an excellent resource, but will not bring up all the results that match your search due to competition between the different contractors/providers we subscribe to (spelled out: the provider of Oria competes with some of the providers of the databases we subscribe to, and will therefore not harvest and show hits from them).
  • Google scholar (also see "cited by" for outstanding sources) and Google
  • Subject relevant journals
    On the subject page for Scandinavian studies, scroll down to the category “Journals” where you will find relevant journals.
  • Open access archives:

  • DUO: DUO is the online research archive for UiO students' master theses and UiO scholars' academic publications. This is where you eventually will submit and publish your completed thesis. Note: do NOT select “Restricted access” when publishing your thesis, but allow “Open access.” This is UiO policy.
  • NORA: Online research archive for all Norwegian institutions in higher education.
  • Bibliographies: reference lists at the end of outstanding books and articles you find.

Accessing literature with plug-ins

Assessing the literature

The discovery tool Oria and academic databases have functionalities that will help you assess the quality and academic soundness of the literature. But a lot is also left to you to figure out. In this section we go through some of the most important things to keep in mind while assessing the literature.

For articles: is it peer reviewed?

For books: is it published by a specialist in the field? By a reputable publisher? Is it based on solid research? Is it academic, sound, reliable, relevant?

Learn more about evaluating the credibility and quality of literature at Search & Write

Exercise: assessing the literature

You will work in groups (or breakout-rooms in Zoom) assessing sources on a reference list. This assignment will be available in padlet.

Course feedback:

We are here to help and eager to learn how we best can do that for you. We conclude the course with an anonymous poll with some questions about the course. Also, feel free to e-mail me your feedback.  

Get more help:

Find selected resources on the Subject page for Scandinavian Studies and contact your Subject specialist, Anne Sæbø

Instructional videos from Search & Write:

• How to search with keywords

• How to search with Boolean terms

• How to search in databases

• How to cite sources and avoid plagiarism?

Suggest a purchase

You are welcome to suggest additions to our collection (books, journals etc).

Remote access

Access library resources when you are not on campus.


Recording of the course held Sept. 14th 2020

Finally a few words on this…:

Google vs. library search engine and databases:

  • Neither Google nor Google Scholar fetches results from our library’s search engine.
  • Google searches the web; Google Scholar indexes a wide range of scholarly literature, but the content is not organized by experts, and there is no option to search by subject area and filters are very limited; the library’s search engine/discovery tool Oria and the library’s databases we subscribe to, search the library’s resources and specialized academic databases organized and maintained by subject experts. Searching by subject area is essential when writing a literature review.
  • Using the library’s search engine and the library’s databases lets you narrow findings to peer reviewed scholarly research based material and gives you full-text access to digitized material (books and articles).

That said, not saying never use Google:

Found a book that looks interesting that you want to find out more about? Google it, perhaps you find it in Amazon where you can often get a preview of the table of contents and some pages.

Published Sep. 10, 2020 3:23 PM - Last modified Apr. 26, 2022 2:33 PM