Tips for information retrieval and management 

The instruction belongs to the following themes

By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content. You do not have to select a degree programme to see the Open University's instructions.

Here you can find instructions for managing references in your thesis, retrieving information and using images in theses. 

More information and support for information seeking is available from the Helsinki University Library


Retrieve scientific information

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You can get started on information retrieval with the help of Helka database

Searching the library collections allows you to search electronic and printed books, journals and databases acquired for the Helka libraries.

In addition, using the article search you can find international articles. 

Not all the material that the University library has acquired for students shows in the Helka database. You can search for your own discipline’s central databases from ResearchGuides that collects library’s information sources and services from the viewpoint of each research field. 

You can revise the basics of  information seeking from the Student’s Digital Skills web materials

Read electronic materials with remote access

The Helsinki University Library has acquired rights to a wide collection of electronic books, journals and databases. More detailed instructions on the use of ebooks can be found at the library website. Electronic journals and books are available for use in the University of Helsinki’s online network. The students of the University of Helsinki also have an option to use the electronic materials with remote access. To use remote access you need a permit to use the University of Helsinki network.

Learn information seeking

Courses and workshops to make information retrieval for theses more efficient as well as to support the use of reference management software are available on campuses and online.  

See the library course selection.

Information Seeking and Management for Thesis Writers

The online course is primarily aimed at students preparing to start working on their bachelor's or master’s thesis. More information on the course content and registration is available on the online course website.  

Guidance on information seeking

Are you stuck in your search for information for your thesis? Do you feel like you need guidance on acquiring sources for your thesis?

For more information on library's guidance and events, see the section "Guidance, Tips and Events on Information Seeking" on the Library's Courses page.

Reference management software

Are you looking for tools to organise references needed in your thesis or research work?   

Reference management software enables you to save references, generate references and bibliographies for your texts and change the reference style in accordance with differing requirements. 

There are different types of reference management software available.

  • The University of Helsinki has acquired licence for Endnote software to be used by its students and staff. EndNote is a separate application that you can install on a University computer from Software Center or on your home computer from Download Centre.
  • In addition, there are other reference management applications available online, such as the free versions of Mendeley and Zotero. 

Introductions to the features available in various reference management solutions and instructions for their implementation: Reference Management Guide.

Book a mobile storage unite work thesis work

Students of the University of Helsinki can borrow a mobile storage unit for storing material needed in their research or thesis work. The storage trolleys make it easy to store and move working materials around the library facilities.

The storage units can be found in all library locations as well as in Learning Centre Aleksandria and Learning Centre Minerva. In addition, Viikki Campus Library has storage lockers for which you can borrow keys from the customer service desk. Keys for the storage units in Aleksandria, Minerva and Kaisa House can be borrowed from the Kaisa House customer service desk.

The units can be located using the Helka database, with the keyword “gradukärry”. The loan period for the storage units is 28 days.

You are not allowed to keep reference material or material you haven’t checked out in the unit. If necessary, the library staff have the right to unlock a storage unit that is currently out on loan, and inspect its contents.

Research methods and primary resources

You’ll find in the library collections books on research methods and other resources to support your coursework and thesis writing.  

Sage Research Methods Online  

Sage Research Methods Online database includes hundreds of books on research methods. You can also find reference works and journal articles on research methods. 

The Library's Digital Resources Guide 

The library guide offers information on digital primary sources that are especially suitable for the fields of humanities and social sciences. The collections include, among others, newspaper archives of The Times and The Economist, The British Library Newspapers collection and extensive collections of material from the 18th and 19th centuries.  



Using images in theses

Permitted use of images in theses 

You can use others’ images in your thesis in the following cases: 

The copyright or term of protection of the image has expired. The term of protection for a regular photograph published in Finland is 50 years from the end of the year in which the photo was taken. The term of protection for a photographic work meeting the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection is 70 years from the death of the person who created the work. 

The photo is accompanied by a licence (e.g., a CC licence) that permits the use of the photo. More information on the licenses is available on the Creative Commons website. 

You have received permission from the copyright holder (the person who created the photo or the publisher) to use the photo. 

Citing a photo

A published image can be cited in an academic text if you discuss the image in the text and the image illustrates the matter discussed. If you are unsure whether the use of the image is permitted in a citation, ask for permission to use the image. 

You must follow good scientific practice in your field. Always include the reference information on the image even if its copyright has expired. 

Please see the Finnish-language ImagOA guide for detailed instructions. 

If you are unsure, ask your thesis supervisor for advice. 

Referencing an image 

When referencing images, follow the guidelines of the referencing style you have selected. Examples of referencing different types of images based on APA guidelines can be found in the ImagOA guide. 

File management of images 

Name your images consistently and store the relevant background information, for example, in a word processing or reference management program, or make an image plan in an Excel file. This makes it easier to create a list of sources for your thesis, and you can check the relevant information later in the plan. 

Store at least the following information: 

  • Author 
  • Place
  • Year 
  • People in the photo and related notes
  • Purpose of using the image: analysis/reference or illustration
  • Commercial publication or publication by a higher education institution, research institute or scientific society 
  • Source of the image and the right to use it 

(Source ImagOA guide

How to obtain permission to use an image 

First check whether the person who created the image has already given permission for its use. Some scientific articles are licensed under a CC licence, in which case you need not ask for permission; it is enough that you refer appropriately to the source.

To use images included in an article or a book, you must usually ask the publisher, not the article/book author, for permission. An article may be accompanied by a link (e.g., Request Permission, Get Rights and Content) that takes you, for instance, to the RightsLink service, from which you can ask permission to reuse the images. It is recommended to use the service accompanying the article. 

If you ask for permission directly from the person who created the image, you should mention at least the following: information on the image to be used, the title of your thesis, your degree programme, faculty and university, and whether the thesis will be made publicly available online or whether it will only be available at a library. You should ask for permission in writing, using your University of Helsinki email address, for example. 

Further information on copyright: