Skip to Main Content

Searching: Welcome

Use this guide to learn how to search effectively for information sources


The acronym SAFER, introduced by the UCL Institute of Education (UCL IOE), is used to highlight the importance of understanding the initial steps to becoming information literature. The acronym is reused under the CC-NC-BY-SA license and any reuse must acknowledge UCL IOE.

Searching Basics

Begin searching resources available from the Library rather than go to Google!  The danger of internet-wide searches is that you can not always control the quality or quantity of what you get. This is where searching the library catalogue and the databases can help as you can find subject specific databases which often contain peer-reviewed or scholarly journals.  

Yet even with databases, searching can be fluid, full of stops and starts, searching and re-searching. Serendipitous searching allows you to reframe your needs, to cross boundaries and often nets you surprising results.

The more you research, the more questions you should have this dynamic process is vital and can provide you with new lines of enquiry, new ideas for keywords, new directions and new understanding. As the illustration below shows, research can be surprising!

Guide Contents

This guide provides information on the basics of searching. It also has information on how to come up with a search strategy, how to conduct a 'QuickSearch' on the catalogue and how to move to conducting a more 'Advanced Search'. It is recommended you follow the examples provided to learn effective searching techniques. There is also a section on 'Reading the Reading list' as often you have to decipher whether what you are searching for is a book, a chapter in a book or an article in a journal or a magazine. 


Library team appreciate your questions and suggestions, please contact us at for general queries