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Responsible Thesis-Writing Process

The University of Vaasa's guidelines for research ethics and research data management.

The information searching process

Systematic information searching is an integral part of the research process. Planning your information searching in advance saves time because well-planned searches eliminate irrelevant results. These are the stages of the information searching process:


  1. Defining the search topic: What kind of information are you searching for, i.e., what is your information need? Be precise about your topic and what you need in order to carry out your research.
  2. Planning the search: Which search terms describe your information need? Use a thesaurus to find synonyms and translate terms into, e.g., Finnish and/or Swedish. Check controlled vocabularies for the terms. (A controlled vocabulary consists of subject terms which have a certain wording and describe a singular phenomenon.)
  3. Searching: Choose appropriate search techniques and source of information. Using search techniques wrong will give you results that do not match your needs. Your search topic and the type of material you need determine which information source you choose. In Subject Guides (LibGuides), you will find the most important information sources in your field of study.
  4. Evaluating the search results: Evaluate whether the search results are useful and fill your information need. If you are not satisfied with the search results, broaden or limit your search in different ways.
  5. Choosing and using sources: You have to be sure that the source you found is reliable and scientific. Take into consideration the ethical use of information by following the principles of responsible conduct of research.

More information on the stages of the information searching process is available in the LibGuide Information searching. See also the Subject Guide of your field.

Contact the library’s information services (Ask the library / Book a tutorial). Bachelor’s and Master’s thesis writers are welcome to join the weekly drop-in thesis workshop organized by the library.

Source criticism

Is the information relevant, reliable and up-to-date?

Any information you find must be evaluated by using source criticism. Evaluating information is also an essential part of the information searching process. With the questions listed below, you can assess the reliability and usability of the source.

  • Does the information fill your information need?
  • Does the information reach the standard of your information need? Is the information, e.g., scientifically acquired?
  • Is the information reliable, objectively written and free from spelling mistakes? Is it fact or opinion?
  • What is the target group of the information?
  • What is the purpose of the information? Does it aim to present research results, to inform, to persuade, to sell or to entertain?
  • Check the author. Was the information produced by a specialist in the field or an established agency or organization?
  • Has the topic been discussed broadly and from different perspectives?
  • Does the information source have references? What sources have been used? How old are they?
  • Is the information source peer reviewed?
  • Does the text follow the IMRD structure? An academic article has the following structure: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion.
  • Can you find the journal, publication series, conference or publisher in the JUFO portal (Publication forum)?
  • Are you able to verify the information from another source or based on your previous knowledge?
  • Where was the information published? In, e.g., an academic journal, newspaper or a website? Who is the publisher or sponsor?
  • What is the publication date? Is the information up to date enough to fill your information need?


Peer review

The peer review or referee process is a way to assure scientific quality. Experts within the field evaluate the quality of submitted articles before they are published in a scientific journal.

How to spot fake news

Consider the source. Read the whole story. Check the author. Does the information given support the story? Check the date. Is it a joke? Consider your own biases. Ask the experts.

Useful links

Saavutettavuusseloste Tillgänglighetsutlåtande