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Find information

    • Overview

      • Distinguish between types of information using given sources and follow instructions to carry out a basic search
    • Select information sources

      • Distinguish between the types of information found using a search engine and an online library, and between websites for different purposes
      • Search for information using a given range of sources
    • Search techniques

      • Carry out a basic search for information on the web or within a website on a pre-defined topic, using the guidance provided
      • Demonstrate awareness that the top results in a web search may be paid for or sponsored listings and that results may be personalised
    • Overview

      • Identify which are the relevant sources in a subject area
      • Carry out a search on a given topic using a given source using simple techniques
      • Be able to follow up a reference
    • Select information sources

      • Identify key sources of information in the subject area or context, including academic and professional sources
      • Know how different information resource types are relevant to the subject, such as law cases or data
    • Search techniques

      • Plan, carry out and review a search in a given database on a given topic
      • Find journal articles or books from a reference
      • Use phrase searching to limit results
    • Overview

      • Identify a range of sources, distinguishing between primary and secondary
      • Independently carry out subject searches using a range of sources, using common database features
      • Adapt and refine searches if necessary
    • Select information sources

      • Identify a range of key sources of information in the subject area
      • Distinguish between primary and secondary sources
    • Search techniques

      • Independently carry out a simple subject search within more than one database
      • Identify search features and functionality common to a range of databases and search engines, such as field searching, Boolean, limits
      • Review search results and adapt and refine the search if necessary
    • Overview

      • Identify a wide range of sources to address research problems and independently design a strategy to search several databases using a range of techniques
      • Be aware of ways of keeping up to date in a subject area
    • Select information sources

      • Identify problems or research questions and independently find and select appropriate information to address these
      • Independently devise and carry out strategy for finding information needed, using a range of sources
    • Search techniques

      • Use a range of database functionality in several databases, such as citation searching, and interpret the results
      • Use sources of current information to keep up to date and to inform career or personal goals research
    • Overview

      • Conduct a thorough literature search using a comprehensive range of sources using advanced search techniques
      • Keep up to date using a range of tools
    • Select information sources

      • Search independently across a comprehensive range of sources and information formats
      • Produce an independently conducted thorough literature search in a specific subject area, making effective use of advanced search techniques and database functionality
    • Search techniques

      • Demonstrate a critical and systematic approach to staying up-to-date, using the most appropriate tools and resources

Find information - Examples

Finding information is about knowing what sources are available and how to access and use them. It involves searching effectively and independently, and reflecting on the success of one’s strategy.

Here you will find examples of online materials that illustrate how this skill area can be taught and learned, with an indication of which level of taught OU study they may be suitable for. This is not intended to be prescriptive, but rather to give a flavour of what is available.

Title of activity






Freely available?

Finding a journal article from a reference using Library Search

Shows how to interpret a journal article reference and how to use ‘Library Search’ to check if an article is held in Library online collections.


Library Digital Skills for Study Activity X212: Finding a journal article from a reference

OU members only

A111 - Finding out more about a person or topic

Guides students through use of key interdisciplinary online reference resources for study; showing how to find and use a range of key resources, and reflect on their use


A111 Block 2 Unit 4, Part 5 Study Skills [LB]

Library Digital Skills for Study activity XF0704: Using the Oxford English Dictionary

OU members only

Introduction to legal databases

introduces some of the open access and subscription legal databases available to law students.


Library Digital Skills for Study activity XW110: Introduction to legal databases

OU members only

D241 – Searching for primary and secondary sources


Students are asked to understand the difference between primary and secondary sources


D241 Exploring mental health and counselling [LB]


Library Digital Skills for Study activity  XF0719: primary and secondary sources

OU members only

A233 – Image searching and sharing

Students analyse an online gallery of images, search for their own in a guided search activity of key online image databases


A233: telling stories: the novel and beyond. [LB]

Library Digital Skills for Study activities: [LB]

X224 Finding images and copyright [LB]

XF0454 Finding images using Britannica Image Quest [LB]

OU members only

W340 – Skills on W340

Students are introduced to the law databases and taught to find a particular case by name and to search for cases on a particular topic


W340: Law, society and culture [LB]

Library Digital Skills for Study activity XW04: [LB] Using a legal database to find a case

OU members only

B302 - Finding and interpreting performance measures

Two activities using the library's Amadeus and FAME databases with a filmed search example to find performance data. Students practise searching and summarise findings on TGF.


B302:  Strategic management

OU members only

B875 - Study and professional skills development

A series of research activities to help MBA students develop professional skills and commercial and sector awareness


B875: MBA project: leaders of change [LB]

Library Digital Skills for Study activity X342d: Critical reading

OU members only

Library Online Training: Smarter Searching with Library databases

Teaches effective search techniques and how to exploit database functionality in literature searches

3 and Masters

Library online training

Free (recording)

OU only for live session

Being digital activity: Search slips and tips

Explains how to avoid search pitfalls and how to search more effectively


Being digital activity

Freely available