How do I publish original research

A guest article by Huberta Weigl

From my workshops and online coaching I know that many students are unsure whether they have really found all of the literature for their bachelor, master or doctoral thesis or whether they have to find and read all publications at all. The question "How do I find all of the literature on my topic?" Is a long-running issue, so today we have an answer and a few tips.

Do I have to read all of the literature?

That depends on the amount of literature and the topic.

Amount of literature

Many students think that there is a lot of literature on a big topic and that a big topic is therefore much easier to work on. The second assumption in particular is problematic, however. Of course there is also a lot of literature on a big topic, but at the same time there is the risk that, given the amount of literature, you will not be able to read and evaluate everything relevant. Hence my tip: summarize the topic of your bachelor thesis, master thesis or doctoral thesis as narrowly as possible. The smaller your topic, the more manageable the literature, the easier it is for you to actually read all publications or at least all important ones.


Even if the topic is narrow, there may be a lot of publications on it. In my experience, this is especially true for topics from the natural sciences and medicine. In these areas it often doesn't make sense to read all publications because research results quickly become out of date. In such a case, you usually only read the latest publications.

What is important or relevant and what is not? To distinguish between these is a great challenge, especially for students who do not have much experience with scientific work. So be patient when you plow through the literature jungle.

Tips for your literature research

In order to find either all or at least all relevant publications, it is important that you know or learn how to do a literature search properly.

Tip 1: Learn how to research properly.

If you are not saddled with the research, you cannot answer the question of whether you have actually found all or the most important literature on your topic. A literature search should not be controlled by chance, but should be approached systematically. The following is important:

  • Realize that when searching for academic literature, Google, Google Books, and Amazon are not the tools of choice.
  • Use the catalogs (OPACs) of the large specialist libraries (to which Google has no access!) For your literature research.
  • In addition to the catalogs of the libraries in your study city, you can also use national catalogs and meta search engines, such as the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog.
  • Work specifically with magazine databases. You will not find any or only a few journal articles via the normal OPACs of the libraries. However, essays are very important: If you do not take note of them, it is impossible to get an overview of the state of research on your topic - but that's exactly what you need!
  • Familiarize yourself with the individual catalogs or databases before working with them. Feeding in slogans at random does not help much. First of all, you have to know what the research tool you are using can and cannot do. If you are not familiar with the various catalogs and databases, take one of the many training courses that the major libraries regularly offer.

Photo: Stock Photo ID: 90557422, l i g h t p o e t

Tip 2: Make a note of your keywords.

A targeted keyword search in the various OPACs and magazine databases is very important. So that you can keep track of things, I recommend that you write down the keywords that you are searching for or that you have already searched for. Of course, this also applies to the keyword combinations. Attention: In some databases you can only search in English!

Tip 3: Make sure to include English-language publications.

Since English is the language of science, those who publish in English assume that their results can be read worldwide. You have to So in addition to the German-language texts, read English publications in your subject for your work.
If the majority of your literature is written in English, it may even be worthwhile to write your entire thesis in English.

You only need to use publications in other languages ​​if your topic has a local reference. So if you write about any aspect of the Louvre, you have to read the French literature about it too. And if you're writing on a topic related to China, you need to be able to speak Chinese.

Tip 4: go to libraries.

There are students who believe that all of the literature is available to them online and that they can save themselves the trip to the library. In fact, a good part of the scientific publications (especially in the humanities) still appear on paper. There is no getting around a visit to the library!

Tip 5: Read the new publications first.

Make sure that you first find a publication on your topic that is relatively new. Older literature (snowball principle) can then be accessed through them. So start reading the latest publications.


You can be sure that you have found all relevant publications when

  • you are saddled with literature research
  • you not only work with the normal OPACs of the libraries, but also with the various journal databases of your subject.
  • you work specifically with meta catalogs, such as the Virtual Catalog Karlsruhe
  • you use English-language publications on your topic as well as German-language ones.

about the author

Dr. Huberta Weigl studied business administration and art history. She worked as an assistant at the University of Vienna for ten years and finally founded the writing workshop in Vienna in 2012. Based on her many years of teaching and publication experience, she supports students in academic work and writing in the form of online coaching and courses. She also regularly holds writing workshops at universities in Austria and Germany.

Headerphoto: Stock Photo ID: 123908863, Ermolaev Alexander


Commenting is Disabled on Literature Research: How can I find all the literature on my topic?