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Mathematics: Finding Research

Help with research

As well as the information on this page, you can also get help through:

Skills Hub 

The Skills Hub has a range of guides to help you with using Discovery and finding information for assignments and research. Visit the Finding Information section of the guide to learn more. 

Your Liaison Librarian 

Rachel Whittington is available to help with questions about finding information, evaluating sources, referencing and using EndNote. Contact her at

Searching with Keywords

When searching for a specific item, you can usually search for the title, or a section of the title, using quotation marks or whatever your chosen database uses for phrase searching. For example, to find:

Becherer, D. and Ward, I. (2010) Optimal Weak Static Hedging of Equity and Credit Risk Using Derivatives. Applied Mathematical Finance 17(1): pp1-28.

you would search for ["Optimal Weak Static Hedging of Equity and Credit Risk Using Derivatives"]

But when you are researching a topic, you need to think carefully about the words you use to search with - your 'keywords'.

Keywords are important! The words you use, and how you put them together in your search, will determine how successful your search results are. Think about what you know already and what you need to find out about.

For example, let’s assume you have a general topic around cyber security in the UK - How well do you know this topic?

If this is an entirely new topic to you, the first stage will be general background reading (e.g. dictionaries, encyclopaedias, handbooks, textbooks and websites - not journal articles).  Having a better understanding of the topic, will give you a better idea of the sorts of questions you might want your dissertation/essay to answer and the sub-topic/chapters that you will research.

Sometimes you have to use broad concepts/keywords (to get a better understanding of a topic) and narrow concepts/keywords when you want to pinpoint more relevant material.

Remember also, think about:

  • Synonymous and related terms
  • Alternate spellings
  • Root words 
  • Abbreviations (e.g. PVs, EPVs etc).

Introductory sources

The sources below are introductory and will help you to better understand unfamiliar topics and form your search strategy. 


Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics

Actuarial Science Glossaries created by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries:

Computer Science 


Finding books

You can search for a specific book, or search for any books we have on a topic in Discovery 

Finding books on the shelves

Dewey classification mean that library materials are shelved in subject groupings.

Not sure where things are in the Library? Discovery records have a 'map it' button which shows you the book's general location on a map of the library floor. 

Finding relevant book chapters

To search the contents of books for relevant chapters see the 'Searching inside Ebooks' section of our eBooks Guide

Finding journal articles

To find journal articles DISCOVERY is a good place to start. This allows you to cross-search lots of different publishers/databases (including Emerald, Cambridge Journals, ScienceDirect, JSTOR, Web of Science, etc.) and allows you to find books, journal articles, news articles, conference papers etc, that match the keywords you enter into the search box.

You can search DISCOVERY by entering search terms/keywords in the search box below.  Alternatively, you may wish to look at the full A-Z list of databases.

I've found a useful article, now what?

Let’s assume you have done a search and have found (or have been given on a reading list) a really useful article. How can you use this article to find other good articles? There are various different ways:

  • Reference List (looking back)
    This author found these papers useful, might it be worth checking these out? Check if we have these papers or can get them for you (i.e. you know what you are looking for). These will necessarily be older papers.
  • Cited reference searching (looking forward)
    We subscribe to two citation indexes - Scopus and Web of Science. It is possible to use these to search for an article and then see who has cited that paper (times cited). This is necessarily looking forward i.e. how has this area of research developed/who has subsequently cited this paper in their research?
  • Related articles
    Usually given in a publisher database – other articles in that database which share some of the same references as this article
  • Keywords/controlled vocabulary
    If you are struggling to think of appropriate keywords to for your search, look at those used in a useful paper
  • Author Details (often links in a database)
    Is this author an expert in the field, might they have other useful papers? Use the author name to search for other papers or check their personal website
  • Journal Details
    Is this quite a specialised journal, might it publish papers on the same topic? Search within that journal with your selected keywords and set up alerts to be notified of new articles

For further help with this, or with any aspect of Literature Searching, please contact your Liaison Librarian or local library team.

What to do if we don't have what you're looking for

Contact your Liaison Librarian

If you think we should have something, or there is a problem, contact your Liaison Librarian Rachel Whittington at

Request we buy the book 

You can request that the Library order books through the Book Order Form. More information is at:

Interlibrary Loan

Request to borrow the book from another library or get the journal article from another library. More information is at

Accessing other libraries (UK Students)

Please check Covid-19 guidance for the library you are visiting before arranging your visit. 

SCONUL Access Scheme

Other libraries in the UK may grant HWU students access to their resources through the SCONUL Access Scheme. More information can be found on the website.

National Library of Scotland 

The National Library of Scotland receives, on legal deposit, a copy of almost all books and periodicals published in the UK, plus many published abroad. The Library is open for reference only (i.e. its stock cannot be borrowed). It has reading rooms in two buildings: George IV Bridge Building and Causewayside Building.

The NLS catalogues can be accessed here.