Welcome to Day 2 of our new blog series.
Yesterday we looked at getting started with your plan for assignment success. The next step is to identify appropriate and relevant evidence or research to help you answer the assignment question.
What kind of information do I need?
There is so much available it can feel overwhelming so you need to make decisions about what is most revelevant to the question or task you have been set. Here are three types of resources to get you started.
Books – great for background and context, you usually find in-depth and detailed information which gives you a broad overview of the subject. Usually they are written by one or more authors, or you could look at edited collections which often have a larger number of contributors. We buy ebooks so you can access a wide range of titles even if you’re off campus. However, there are titles which are not available online or others which are not available to us as a library, for example we cannot purchase Kindle books.
Journals and journal articles – journals are published at regular intervals so you can often find up to date information from a range of authors in one place. Articles are shorter than books so can help you explore the topic across a range of theories and evidence. Journal articles can also include details of current research in progress or new theories being tested. Look out for the ‘peer reviewed’ filter on a Discovery search, this will narrow your results to articles which have been quality checked before publication.
Specialist information – we subscribe to a wide range of subject specific databases which include information from industry, researchers or experts in the field. Some of this is not published in books or journals. Along with academic information they can include specialist reports, data or analysis. This type of information can be useful to give you practical or ‘real world’ applications for academic research.
Why do I need to use research?
Academic writing is based on evidence. You need to back up all of your arguments with appropriate research. You also need to demonstrate that you have the skills to find and use information to develop your own understanding and support your conclusions. Deciding what is relevant, critically evaluating the content and presenting information objectively are all key academic skills which are just as important to success as your subject knowledge. We have lots of support to help develop your research skills.
How do I find information?
Step 1 – start with your module reading list. These are the books and articles your tutor has specified.
Step 2 – use key authors, words and subject terms to plan your search strategy for wider reading.
Step 3 – use Discovery to help you find additional resources. You can filter your results in a number of ways, for example limiting to ‘peer reviewed’ articles or items which are available online. Our guide to Discovery will help.
Step 4 – don’t forget to check the specialist databases for information which isn’t included in Discovery. You can find all of them on our full A to Z list or see a specific selection on your Subject LibGuide. We’ll have more on these later this week.
Step 5 – don’t rely on Google for your academic research, if you do use it then also try the sources listed above and check out our Google to the max guide.
Tomorrow we’ll concentrate on being critical and Thursday will be a more detailed dive into databases. Friday’s focus is on finishing off your assignment.
Remember that we can help you even while the Library is closed and you can add your questions to the blog.