HowTo: How do I find information on a Subject?

The Library provides access to many different types of resources, from books and journals to databases. This guide aims to simplify the information searching process by giving an overview of how to search for information using these resources.

The best source of information will depend on what type of information you are after. Journal articles, for example, are best when highly specific and up-to-date information is required while books may be more suitable if you are after a general overview.

Subject Resources

LibGuides are subject resources created by our librarians and they are a great place to start when you are looking for information on a subject. There are guides for every subject area taught at Flinders University. Each guide will vary but generally they contain information about reference works, how to find books, relevant databases and websites. You can find the LibGuides under the Subject Resources link on the Library homepage or from the Readings and Library Resources page in your FLO topic page.  


findIt@flinders searches both our physical and online collections and is the Library's main discovery tool. You can use it to find books, journals, and DVDs, as well as journal articles, newspaper articles and other resources. For detailed information visit the findIt@flinders LibGuide

Finding Books

To find a book you will need to search findIt@flinders. Set the search scope to Books, journals, DVDs and more. This will limit your results to physical items within the library as well as online journals and eBooks. Alternatively, you can leave the search scope set at Search All and then refine your results to Books using the Resource Type facet on the left hand side of the results screen.  

You can search for a book in a number of ways, including by author, title, keyword and subject. Just enter one or more term in the simple search box. If you wish to specify which field is to be searched (e.g. author or title) use the Advanced Search option.

Once you have searched FindIt@Flinders and found records of useful resources you will need to locate them. To locate a physical book there are several things you will need to note:

  • Location Number (indicates where the item is located on the shelf)
  • Location - the name of the Library holding the item (e.g. the Central Library, Sturt Library, etc.) - always be careful to check the location of each individual copy.
  • The collection it is part of (e.g. the AV collection)
  • The status of the item (ie. whether the item is In, or On Loan).

All of this information can be found in the Location tab of the books record. 

If the book is available online you will be able to access it from the View Online tab of the books record. For more information on eBooks visit the eBook LibGuide.

If the Flinders Library does not have the book you are after you may like to check other libraries. Flinders University staff and students can borrow from the University of Adelaide and University of South Australia libraries under the reciprocal borrowing scheme that exists between the libraries of the three South Australian Universities.

Finding Articles

Journal articles can be an excellent source of up-to-date, specific information. Previously, to find a journal article you would search a database to find a citation and then search the library catalogue to see if we held that journal in print. Now the process is much easier as there are millions of full text journal articles available online and instead of individual searching the databases to find them you can use findIt@flinders

Searching findIt@flinders for articles

You can find articles on a given subject by entering one or more keywords in the search box and setting the search scope to Articles. findIt@flinders searches will often return a very large number of results. You can refine the result set by using the facets on the left hand side of the screen. Limiting results to peer-reviewed journals, by date, or by a subject can be useful. If none of the results are relevant think about different keywords you could use to define the subject.

If you are searching for a known article then enter the title (or a portion of the title) into the search box. You can use quotation marks " " around the title to group words together as a phrase, however, use with caution. If you get 0 results it may be due to a misspelt word or the title you entered might not have been exact.

Although findIt@flinders searches a large proportion of our online databases it doesn't return results for 100% of the articles we have access to. This has to do with how and where articles are indexed, so if you can't find an article by searching for its title we may still have access to it either in print or online. You can check by searching for the journal title in findIt@flinders, remember to change the search scope to Books, journals, DVDs, and more instead of Articles. If we hold the journal in physical form check the Details tab to make sure we have the volume you require and note its location, call number, and status to find it in the library. If the journal is online check that we have access to the volume you require and click on the View Online tab. You can then navigate to the required year > volume > issue > article, or you can use the search function within the database

Searching databases for articles  

There are times when you may prefer to search an individual database for articles instead of findIt@flinders. Although you will generally retrieve less results in comparison to findIt@flinders they may be more relevant, particulary if the database specialises in your field of study. Many databases also have increased functionality if you use their native interface. 

There are a number of ways for you to access databases. A great way to find a database relevant to your subject is to look at the LibGuide for that subject. You can also search for a database by title or by subject from the Library's Database page. If you need help searching a database you can contact the Library, visit an information desk at any Flinders Library, or use the online help function found within the database.