Research Help

What is Information Literacy?

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How to find journal articles?

Identify key components of the article’s citation
Journal articles are described by means of bibliographic citations. Citations provide you with details about the article (such as title, author, date of publication), which allow it to be uniquely identified.

You will typically find a list of citations on a course reading list, or at the end of a piece of academic work (detailing the works consulted in the creation of the document). The example below illustrates the different components of a citation:

When you are searching for individual articles such as the one detailed above, try to note down as many of these components as possible - It will make the search much easier in the long run.

Adapted through our affiliated UK University, University of Manchester, JRUL, 2012 with slight changes.

Literature searching

There are four key stages which contribute to an effective subject search.

Stage 1: Define the subject in terms of keywords
Try to generate 2-3 key terms or phrases (keywords) that express what you are looking for, and which can easily be entered into a database search engine.
It can be helpful to break the topic down into concepts (usually nouns rather than verbs or adjectives).

Try not to focus too closely on words or terms that might make up part of your overall essay or project title. Instead you should reflect on the question more fully, and pull out the key components which make up the topic as a whole.

Stage 2: Identify information sources
Decide where you are going to search for information - to help you select the correct database for your topic, the JRUL website categorises the bibliographic databases by subject area.

Stage 3: Search the information sources identified using keywords
The vast majority of databases have a standard basic search interface which allows you to enter your search terms and have them interact in a variety of ways using Boolean operators.
Other options allow you to direct the database where to search for the keywords (e.g. in the article title, abstract or full-text), and to limit the types of results retrieved (e.g. you can specify results within a particular date range or from a certain publication type).

Stage 4: Download relevant information
Once you have located an article (or articles) that might be helpful, you can download articles individually or in bulk. Most databases also allow you to export citations into bibliographic management software such as Endnote.

Adapted through our affiliated UK University, University of Manchester, JRUL, 2012 with slight changes.

Database searching

When using databases you will find that the majority of them use the following search methods:

Boolean Logic
Boolean Logic allows the user to combine and exclude search terms e.g.

  • systems performance AND efficiency (this combines your search terms)
  • power NOT nuclear (this excludes “nuclear” from the search)
  • loads OR stress (this searches for both search terms separately)

It is useful to use Boolean logic as you can refine your search easily and locate relevant articles quickly. You may notice that if you use the advanced search option on some databases it allows you to select AND, OR and NOT to combine your search terms.

Wildcards (?) are used to replace a letter from a word. By replacing the letter with a ? you are then asking the database to search for words with different spellings, e.g. American English or UK English.

Examples include stabili?ation which would retrieve results that include the word stabilization or stabilisation depending upon how it was spelt.

Truncations and Wildcards can sometimes vary between different databases so it is worthwhile checking out the help section.

Using truncation allows the user to retrieve more results from a single word search.

Searching for "Engineering" will retrieve all articles that have word "Engineering" within the title, keywords or abstract.

However if you search for Engineer* you will retrieve articles that include the words Engineering, Engineered, Engineers etc so you are searching for different endings of the same word. It’s a useful way to locate a wider range of articles.

It is always worthwhile checking out each database as it may have a search method that is unique. Use the help facilities and carry out your search using the basic and advanced search options to see how your results differ and which option is the most effective.

Adapted through our affiliated UK University, University of Manchester, JRUL, 2012 with slight changes.

Finding Books

In the Library homepage you can see the basic search page for the University Library Catalogue. There are three ways to find a book available in the Library.

1. Using the 'One Search' tool

  • Click on Advanced Search options to quickly locate the resources you need
  • Tick the database you wish to perform a search e.g. Main Catalog for print books
  • Narrow your search results by author, subject, year
  • Click the book title to know more information about the item
  • Click Main Catalog to direct you to the book record
  • Check the availability of the item

2. Using the 'Main Catalog' search

  • On the search box, select your search option either by title, author, keyword, subject, etc.
  • Search results can be sorted by title, author, date or call number
  • Click the items link below the item number to know more information about the item
  • Check the availability of the item

3. Using the 'Course Reserve' search

  • Select 'Course Reserve' search if you would like to find what books are required for your course
  • Search by typing the Instructor name or Course ID
  • On the search results, select which one is appropriate, then click.
  • Click the Reserve detail link to know more about the items
  • Course Reserves copy is for library use only. You can find similar copies available using the above search tool

Getting Started

Are you looking for information on resources?

  • What databases do you have?

    EBSCO Research Databases - Academic Search Complete, Business Resource Complete, Education Research Complete, GreenFILE , ERIC, Environment Complete, Energy & Power Source, Teacher Reference Center

    Bankscope and OSIRIS database

    Westlaw Gulf database

    For more information, visit our E-resources page.

  • What e-books do you have?

    E-books can be accessed through Dawsonera platform. Use the Advanced Search option on the One Search tool and tick Dawsonera to search within the database. E-books can be downloaded to your machine for a number of days that will allow you to read off-line. Printing of pages is limited.

  • What are the newspapers subscribed by the library?

    Gulf News. The National, Khaleej Times, Al Bayan, Al Khaleej

  • What other resources are available online?

    There are a number of Open Access Resources available for research purposes in the E-resources web page.

    For more information on Open Access, go to Blackboard; look for the Library as one of your courses. If you are unable to access the Library course, contact the Circulation Desk.

  • Is student’s dissertation accessible off-campus?

    Yes. Dissertations can be accessed off-campus through the University digital repository. Search Bspace in the homepage to link for dissertations. Access to full-text is allowed to registered users only.

Learn to use the Library

Attend a Library instruction session

Schedule an appointment with a Librarian

If you're having difficulty locating materials on a particular topic and would like personal assistance, schedule an appointment with a Librarian by email at

Ask a Librarian

You can contact us immediately using the Ask a Librarian (Zoho) instant messaging.

Even if our status is offline, you can still send us a message, but please include your email address so we can get back to you! BUiD users are given priority assistance.

You can also email, phone or visit in person. See our Contact Us page.

Academic Support

The Academic Success Unit is a unit within the British University in Dubai that provides support in terms of academic literacy skills to ALL students. Many of the BUiD students are part-time students who also juggle careers, families and other responsibilities while they are studying and this unit will help students to assimilate the skills and knowledge they would require to be successful students. Many students also come from different educational backgrounds and they may require support in producing work in accordance with British university standards.

At the beginning of each semester, the Academic Success Unit will offer mandatory Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism workshops. These workshops are compulsory as students will have to familiarize themselves with the BUiD Harvard Referencing method and learn how to cite and acknowledge sources accurately. Students registered on the Construction Law and Dispute Resolution (CLDR) programme are required to attend the mandatory OSCOLA Referencing workshop.

The Academic Success Unit also offers a range of academic writing workshops. Some of these workshops deal with generic writing skills but others deal with programme-specific, assignment-focused skills. There are also workshops covering range of academic literacy skills. In addition, The Academic Success Unit offers individual support via the Writing Centre. Academic Success Unit has a vast range of resources available online on Blackboard. There are numerous study guides, tip sheets, web links and online activities that students can engage with to enhance and improve academic literacy skills. Please go to Blackboard to access resources to help you enhance your English language and academic literacy skills.