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Search support - Courses

The ZHAW University Library offers search support by providing materials, discipline-specific information, consulting and courses.

Search tips

Here you will find general advice on search strategies. If you are looking for specific tips on databases related to your area, please consult the discipline-specific information.

Structuring a search

A well-structured search basically consists of preparation, execution and repetition.

The preparation phase, however, is particularly important. By preparing a search well, you should be able to avoid frustration in the execution phase and obtain the results you require faster.

Since a search is an iterative process, the terms you discover become increasingly relevant and lead to more and more successful results.

Tips for efficient search

  1. Formulate your research question(s) in writing.
    • This will help to ensure that you don’t get bogged down during your search.
  2. Make sure you know what information you require.
    • What information do you require from which time period?
    • What publication types could be useful and where can you find them?
  3. Get an overview by conducting an initial search.
  4. Search using the snowball method or adopt a systematic approach.
    • Analyse your topic and compile a list of search terms.
    • Make your search query more precise with the help of different search techniques.
    • Document your search.

Use the “Fragen zur Vorbereitung einer Recherche” check list (in German). In-depth information on search tips can be found in the “Literaturrecherche” Moodle course (in German - ZHAW login required).

Find more input on search strategies in the blog post “Recherchestrategien für die Projekt-, Semester-, Seminar- oder Abschlussarbeit” (in German) on our blog Beyond Books.

Discipline-specific information

Here, you will find an overview of relevant discipline-specific databases, journals, reference works and further literature.

Reference service

  • You need literature on a specific topic and have the feeling that you could improve your search strategies.
  • You have a project topic and don’t know where to begin your search.
  • You’ve discovered a database which would be ideal for your research topic but you’re not sure how to find your way.

Reference service at the University Library Winterthur

Reference service at the University Library Zurich

Reference service at the University Library Wädenswil



In addition to the introductory sessions and more detailed training courses on information competence which students attend as part of their studies, the University Library offers various optional courses.