About this guide

Welcome to this Library Guide. Here you can learn to search for and recognize academic information. The following questions will be answered:



If you want to test your search skills you can take a test through the menu (“Check your Knowledge”). You can also use the button "Support & Contact" for more information.

What is academic information?

Scientists research a question or problem and present (usually in a paper) what they have researched and what their findings are. We call these: research articles or research reports.

The reader of a research paper should be able to verify that the content is accurate. Therefore, it is agreed that the researcher/author should justify his or her findings by

  • a description of the research methods
  • by citing sources (also called references)

Academic publications have a set format so that it can be quickly checked whether the topic matches the reader's interest or field of expertise. The article usually begins with an abstract (summary).

An academic publication also contains:

  • Introduction stating the question or problem
  • Method by which the question was answered
  • Results observations, measurements, analyses
  • Discussion of the results and observations
  • Conclusions of the research


Compare your own question or research with this information and check whether the research helps answering your own main and sub-questions. Does it answer the whole question or just one aspect of it? What research object was used (which individuals, disease, group, process, etc.) Is this to relate to your own research?



Research is fun!



Great things and new discoveries are made with research results!

In the Faces of Science project, PhD candidates communicate about their research and their lives as doctoral students in blogs, vlogs, articles, lectures, media appearances and social media activities. They are members of the Faces of Science network and receive tools and training to hone their science communication skills.

Faces of Science

Academic or popular

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish an academic publication from a popular scientific article or an article from a professional journal. In general you can say that the last two articles contain simpler language and less detailed data. Articles in a professional journal usually provide practical information for a particular profession. Also, these articles contain fewer literature references. Popular science articles are especially suitable for orientation to a topic.


►Check an example of a popular scientific article


If you want to research more deeply and critically into a topic, it is better to read a academic publication. Often, other people have already done research on your issue or problem. You can use this research and see how it can be tested or used in your situation. Maybe the researchers used good survey or interview questions. And you may be able to use these questions to make your own research methodology more valid.



►Check an example of an academic article

Where to find academic information?

Online academic journal articles are best searched in a database. Databases are collections of digital materials such as online newspapers, journals, articles, e-books and videos on a particular topic.

  • The databases often contain references to the article (title, author, abstract, location of the article)
  • Sometimes they contain the complete study (fulltext), usually in pdf format

Submitted articles are not automatically included by a database. They are critically reviewed by independent experts before posting ("peer-reviewed" is what we call this). It shows the reliability of the articles. Moreover, unlike the information you find through Google, the information in a database is not easily lost.

Because not all articles can be downloaded for free yet, the Hanze Library takes license agreements with publishers. These databases are paid and can therefore only be accessed if you are a student at the Hanze University.

Through the Hanze Library site you can search for academic articles in a lot of databases of publishers. The Library Guide of your course provide you with a list of databases relevant for your education.

The link below provides an overview of all the databases to which Hanze University has a subscription.