Determine your information needs

Level 1 teaches you how to determine what kind of information you need, for example, to write a paper. You will learn:

  • how a scientific article is structured
  • what kind of information is used in a scientific article
  • how to analyse your search topic and divide it into aspects
  • how to determine what kind of information you want to search for
  • where to find this information

Getting to know a scientific article

The topic of the article is “self-healing materials”. These are materials that can heal themselves, either autonomously or with a minor external stimulus.


Exercise 1

The following animation will introduce you to a scientific article about self-healing materials. You do not need to read the article, this task is mainly about the structure, not about the contents. You will be asked questions about different parts of the article. Answer the questions by clicking on the relevant section of the page.
Start the exercise and answer the questions.

You have now learned that an author writing an article needs information from others. This information is found in, for example, books, journal articles, and patents.

What information do you need to write a paper? To answer this question properly, you first need to take a careful look at the subject of your search.

Analyse your search topic

The following exercises will teach you how to determine the kind of information you will have to search for.

Exercise 2

  1. Study the TUlib module Making a search plan.
  2. Start the excercise and answer the questions on this subject.

Once you have studied the TUlib module and completed the questions you will know how to determine the aspects of your search topic. These aspects you will use to search for information.

But before starting your actual search, you must know where to find which information: which are the best information sources to use?

Where to find your information

Where to find information? There is a huge number of different information sources available, but you won’t need all of them right away. Where do you find what?

Books, journals and other material that can be retrieved and
studied at TU Delft Library
WorldCat Discovery
Scientific articlesScopus* or Google Scholar
Standards (agreements on the basis of consensus concerning the specifications of a product, service or business process.
Also called norms.)
NEN Connect
Patents (a form of intellectual property. It consists of a
set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state
to an inventor or their assignee for a limited
period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention.)
Information sources relevant to your field of studyTU Delft Library website

* Scopus is just one example of a scientific database. In the collection of the TU Delft Library you can find many other scientific databases as well.

Exercise 3

Let’s go back to the scientific article we started with and take a look at the bibliography.
Start the exercise and answer the questions. When you have completed the exercise you will know what kind of information sources you use to search for books, scientific articles, information on websites, or patent information.

Continue to Level 2

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