Sources for your master´s thesis (LLM)

This is a short introduction to finding sources and using them in your master´s thesis.

You will get tips on;

  • How to become more efficient in searching for legal sources and literature.
  • Where to find databases.
  • How to select keywords and carry out searches.
  • How to select the relevant sources.
  • Using correct referencing technique.

Performing searches for literature and primary sources for your thesis

  • Go through the brief introduction below, try out the descriptions and resources linked to in the text. If you have questions on the introduction, contact In the subject field state the code for your LLM-programme. Do you have general questions on using the library sources, you can contact the Law library

How to access databases, digital books and articles remotely

How to Search for Sources, Literature and Information for your thesis

  • Define your topic, narrow down your research question, find your point of view
  • Select relevant search terms, search phrases, synonyms
  • Write down what you do and what search terms you use - take notes
  • Save your search results - the results you want to use in your thesis - in a word document, or in a reference management program like EndNote or Zotero. You can find links to more information about reference tools, and how to get started at the bottom of Referencing - University of Oslo Library (

What databases to use 

Select relevant databases in your field – for literature – for primary sources. Search for different types of sources separately. Eg. printed books separately from digital books or journal articles.

Tip: Use this help sheet to get started 

Use the Law Library Subject page for law - University of Oslo Library ( as a starting point for your research.

  • Literature
    • Printed books and journals in the library: Oria
    • E-books and e-articles: Oria and Google scholar, but not all e-books and e-articles are searchable through these search engines
      • Articles not searchable through Oria: find out what journals are central to your topic and find out whether you can find these in full text through Oria or Google scholar. If not, try Westlaw (through the Law Library web page) or ask the Library.
      • Interdisciplinary articles through ISI Web of Science
      • E-books not searchable through Oria? Find and search relevant databases and collections thru Law e-books - University of Oslo Library (
  • Primary sources:
    • There are some relevant databases listed on the Subject page for law.
    • If you don`t find documents you know exist, ask the library.
    • Remember to use authoritative sources, i.e. documents from the bodies responsible for an area of law.
      • Example: You want to use WIPO or WTO documents as sources. Then should search for them and find them in WIPO's or WTO's databases or web pages. If you can't find them from the originating organisations or bodies, then you must search for and find them in databases that you can trust are collecting and making available authoritative documents.

Choose relevant search terms and use search techniques

Check out the help sheet on how to select search terms and conduct searches.

And this short introduction on Searching techniques from Search & Write (

An useful search technique is truncation, i.e. search with an open ending. Use it if you are uncertain of the ending of a word, or wants to search both for singular or plural, and so on. The truncation mark is often an asterisk (*)

Example: If you search for Ship* you will get results containing Ship, Ships, Shipping, Shipper, etc.

Read more about trunkation in Searching techniques | Search & Write (

Combine search terms

Read the short introduction about Searching techniques from Search & Write (

  • Use quotation marks around multiword phrases.
  • Combine the words, and use operators AND and OR.
  • Use parentheses to separate the different synonym searches.

How to select and use sources in your thesis

Be critical to what sources you choose for your theses. For primary sources, use authoritative sources, and be aware of consolidated versions of treaties (are they recently updated etc.). As previous mentioned, use the original documents from the bodies responsible for an area of law. 

For literature, use academic scientific sources

Find out what referencing style is used in your programme. There are a lot of resources on the web to help you. You can check out these first:

Referencing - University of Oslo Library (

Reference styles | Search & Write (

The Law library can help you with: 

Finding sources and discuss your searches with you. Help with advanced questions related to referencing, you have to learn the basics on your own.

Come to the library counter or contact the library by e-mail

Need help with your writing?

Academic writing centre at Blindern can help you to improve your writing.


E-mail (library e-mail address):

Responsible for the library courses:

Published Oct. 22, 2020 11:17 AM - Last modified June 15, 2022 11:36 AM