Going beyond your reading list…

Last week we introduced a range of new Guides available for staff and students across the University, and yesterday we highlighted some of the features you may have missed in our new Reading Lists platform. Today we’d like to highlight the support available to you on our Research Skills Guide to help you navigate the collections and resources available to you beyond your reading list. Read on to find out more…

Our Research Skills Guide is aimed at providing you with the information you need to both search for, use and manage good quality scholarly research materials.

You can still always contact us for help, but we’ve provided here a range of self-guided videos, slideshows and presentations you can access at anytime, at the click of a mouse. We’ve split our guide down in to chunks to help you at whatever stage you are at with your research – let’s have a quick look at what each section might help you with!

The Basics

This Guide covers… well, the basics. Here you’ll find:

  • our short Induction video, providing an overview of some of the services and support available to new staff and students.
  • a range of quick video tutorials covering both the Library Catalogue and Library Discover.

Taking the next step, we’ve also highlighted some core free tools you can install on your own machines to help access content easily online from wherever you are: viaDurham, Google Scholar Button, Kopernio and Unpaywall. We’ve also highlighted how you can make the most of Google Scholar as a quick and simple academic search tool. Here’s a taster… if you aren’t already using viaDurham, this may be the most valuable 1 minute 20 seconds you can spend without leaving your seat. Maybe.

Finally, we’ve started to add a set of pages looking at specific types of resource you may be using, to answer some of the frequently asked questions about these. We’ve started with eBooks… but there is more planned to cover newspapers, audio-visual content, theses and dissertations, and more!

Finding Information

Our Finding Information Guide is split into several sections covering some of the key skills you may need to develop to effectively and efficiently use your time to find the best sources for your research topic.

Starting with some core concepts to get you to think about the why, what and where of your search strategy, we also provide short overviews of how to construct an effective search to use in many of the key academic databases available to you.

There’s also a quick guide to highlight which tools work in which databases… so it doesn’t matter if your resource of choice is Scopus or Web of Science, Anthropology Plus or the International Bibliography of Social Sciences.

We follow this with some advice on thinking critically about the resources you find and read, and assessing these within the context of your own knowledge and cognitive bias.

Once you’ve found some key articles for your topic, we also signpost several short video guides on how to make the results you’ve aslready found work for you – whether that is using citation searching tools in Web of Science, Scopus, Dimensions or Google Scholar to find more recent research which has cited them, or using tools such as Altmetric to find related commentary around these publications in the news media, on blogs or commentary sites or in government policy documents.

This section also includes some dedicated resources for dissertation students (we’ll be looking at this in more detail later in the month) and those conducting systematic reviews… go and explore at your leisure!

Managing Information

It’s essential that as a student you learn when and how to cite the work you read and use, and develop the skills and use the tools available to help manage your references effectively. Our Guide on managing information provides guidance and resources to help you understand the issues of plagiarism, and cite and reference accurately in your written assignments.

We also signpost guidance on using some of the key reference management software available to you – including Endnote, Mendeley and Zotero. And don’t worry law students – there’s help for using these with OSCOLA as well!

Keeping up to date

If you want to keep up to date with recent research in your subject area, there are lots of tools available to help – and our ‘Keeping up to Date’ Guide is here to showcase some of these. Whether that is setting up search alerts in your key subject databases, setting up a table of contents alert so you get notified as a new issue of a key journal in your field becomes available, or options to track the latest conference or scholarly conversation points, this guide highlights some of the options available to you.

Subject Support

Whilst our Research Skills guide provides a range of generic skills and tools useful to all subject areas, don’t forget our Subject Guides! Whether you are studying physical chemistry or the history of science, accounting practices or forensic psychology, our subject guides provide you with selected key subject resources you can access online, and support from your Faculty Librarian.

Whilst all of these guides will continue to be expanded and improved, we hope they provide a wealth of additional support you can access when it is most convenient for you, wherever you are. So what are you waiting for? Visit our Research Skills guide now and have an explore – and let us know what you think!

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