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Search and Find - Information Searcher's Journey

Assumption or Knowledge?

You use everyday knowledge in your daily life, but for your academic studies and to develop your professional expertise, you need researched information. By searching for information from different sources, you build a basis for your own reflections and observations. Reliable sources will help you to justify for example why you have chosen a particular research method, and how you have arrived at your conclusions. The more and more diverse the sources you use, the more comprehensive your understanding of your topic will be. On the other hand, remember that quantity is never a substitute for quality. So do not start with the idea that your list of sources has to be "at least three pages".


What is the difference between everyday knowledge and scientific knowledge?

Everyday knowledge Scientific knowledge
  • experienced
  • informal
  • often unconscious and unquestioned
  • discussion e.g. at home or on social media   
  • individual observations and generalizations   
  • researched
  • scientifically justified on the basis of previous research
  • critical
  • peer-reviewed (referee/peer review)
  • forms entities
  • generates new ways of thinking

Sources of information on everyday life

Information sources for scientific knowledge

  • conversations at work, studies, etc.
  • newspapers, news
  • Wikipedia
  • Google
  • scientific publications: books, journals, reports, etc.
  • you can find these materials in databases, for example Ebsco  

Note that scientific topics can be written about in newspapers or Wikipedia, for example. However, these are not scientific sources, even if they cover the same topic.

Sources of information can also be classified according to whether they are scientific or popular. Popular publications are those aimed at the general public. They are free-form, and do not include bibliographic references or citations (or references may be rather general references within the text). Use popular publications judiciously: they may be good sources for an essay or similar, but not recommended for a thesis.

Professional knowledge lies somewhere between everyday knowledge and scientific knowledge. As professional knowledge is often based on experience gained in the workplace, tacit knowledge, its use always requires structuring and interpretation.

Professional knowledge can be found, for example, in articles in professional journals. However, their quality varies, so consider carefully the reliability and usefulness of the source. Some professional journals are of very high quality and the articles are based on scientific knowledge. It is also worth bearing in mind that the content of various professional courses and textbooks is often intended to be summarised and generalised. 

For tips to support your evaluation, see the "Evaluate" section

If you wish, you can watch a video on how to search for scientific information.