Finding scholarly information

Tools and resources

The search results from general search engines like Google are not verified for quality and reliability. Moreover, a considerable number of scientific publications remain accessible only through restricted databases that require payment for access.

To ensure reliable information, it is recommended to use scientific databases, library catalogues, and reputable reference sources.

The UHasselt Discovery Service acts as a centralized search interface, allowing you to explore multiple scientific information sources simultaneously with a single search query. These sources encompass:

  • The UHasselt library catalogue.
  • Most databases accessible through UHasselt's subscriptions.
  • All e-journals and e-books available to UHasselt.

Why Google is not enough

Google, Bing of Yahoo give you access to a wealth of information. However, when it comes to finding relevant scientific content, these general search engines fall short for several reasons:

  • Search engines like Google only index a tiny portion of the internet, around 0.03%.
  • The search results from these general engines are not curated for quality and reliability.
  • Non-content-related factors, such as commercial interests, heavily influence the ranking of search results.
  • Not all scientific information is available online.
  • Much of the scientific content is only accessible through paid and restricted databases.

To efficiently discover all the relevant publications related to your research, it is best to use scientific databases and catalogues provided by the University Library.

Database | catalogue | reference work


A database contains the bibliographic reference and sometimes the electronic version of scientific publications, often journal articles.

  • Bibliographic databases: They include only bibliographic references, sometimes supplemented with an abstract or brief content summary. Some bibliographic databases also provide a link to the electronic version available elsewhere on the internet.
  • Full-text databases: These databases not only contain the bibliographic reference but also the complete electronic version of the publication. Often, the full text itself is fully searchable.
  • Citation databases: In addition to the bibliographic reference, these databases also provide links to the citations (other publications that cite the referenced work in their text, footnotes, or endnotes, and potentially also the publications cited within the reference).

Examples: Web of Science (bibliographic and citation database) | Google Scholar (bibliographic and citation database) | Business Source Complete (full-text database and citation database) | ERIC (bibliographic database) | Econlit (bibliographic database)


A catalogue contains descriptions of books, journals, and/or audiovisual materials, including their location (the precise place of a printed copy on the bookshelf or a direct link to the electronic version).

  • CAUTION! Most catalogues do not include journal articles; they only list the titles of the journals themselves.

Examples: Anet (Network of Scientific Libraries in Antwerp and Limburg, including the UHasselt library catalogue) | Unicat (shared catalogue of Belgian libraries) | Worldcat (shared catalogue with collections from over 50,000 libraries worldwide)

(Online) Reference Works

A reference work contains a series of short entries on a word/person/concept, alphabetically organized by lemma or keyword. Reference works are suitable for quickly delimiting a topic and exploring it on a surface level.

Tools provided by the University Library

The University Library provides access to its digital and physical collections through:

UHasselt Discovery Service: UHasselt's central search interface

The UHasselt Discovery Service allows you to search multiple scientific information sources at once through a single search.

The key resources included are:

The major advantage is that you don't need to search each database separately, and you can find much more information with a single search.

However, please note that not all scientific information sources are accessible through the UHasselt Discovery Service: databases, such as TaxWin Expert | | MyNBN | de Buildwise (formerly WTCB)-publications | most legal databases like Jura | Strada lexmonKEY...

In conclusion, the UHasselt Discovery Service is an essential part of your search for scientific information, but it may not be sufficient if you want to create an exhaustive literature list.


If you wish to search directly in a database, you can visit the overview page of all databases accessible to UHasselt.

The databases can be filtered by discipline, and each database is accompanied by a brief explanation of its content.

IMPORTANT: Many databases require payment. Students and researchers can access these databases on campus. Most paid databases can also be accessed remotely through the EZproxy server for students or via a VPN connection for staff members.


The main catalogue for UHasselt is the Anet catalogue, which contains over two and a half million titles. It includes the collection of Hasselt University Library and the books and journals from the libraries within the Anet network. The Anet network consists of about twenty scientific libraries in Antwerp and Limburg that all use the same library system.

If you are looking for a book or journal and cannot find it in the Anet catalogue, you can search through other catalogues, such as:

  • Unicat - the joint catalogue of Belgian scientific libraries;
  • Antilope - the joint catalogue of 180 libraries for journals.

An overview of the main catalogues can be found on the library website.

(Online) reference works

An overview of the main reference works can be found on the library website.

Document Server @UHasselt

The Document Server is the central repository for the scientific publications of the researchers, research groups, and institutes of Hasselt University, with the following main objectives:

  • increasing access to Hasselt University publications;
  • managing Hasselt University publications;
  • supporting the evaluation of researchers and research groups;
  • supporting the distribution of financial resources;
  • feeding external databases (e.g., iMinds, VABB-SHW).

In this database, you can find references to the publications of researchers affiliated with Hasselt University, whenever possible, with the full text, as well as master's theses and doctoral dissertations from the university.

Judicious use of resources

The choice of information sources largely depends on your objective. If you are exploring a topic for the first time, search engines like Google or general reference works can be a reasonable starting point. However, if you are looking for specific titles by a particular author or scientific studies on a specific subject, it is best to turn to catalogues, databases, and the UHasselt Discovery Service.

I am looking basic information on my subject

  • For an initial introduction to the topic.
  • To identify the (possible) subtopics related to the main topic.
  • To discover relevant keywords related to the topic.
  • To quickly obtain references to other sources (such as websites, books, journals).

You can use:

I am looking for books and articles by a specific author

  • To thoroughly study and become familiar with my topic for the first time.

You can use:

I am looking for scientific publications about my subject

  • To understand what other researchers think about the topic.
  • To know the different theories and hypotheses regarding aspects of the topic.
  • To evaluate and compare different theories and hypotheses with the available sources.

You can use: