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Engineering: Tutorial - ECM3175 Effective library research: 4. Find: Where to Search

Online support to assist with planning and conducting your library dissertation research

Find: Where to Search

Once you have decided what sort of research materials you want to work with, you can choose the best research tool to help you find that material. There are two Library Research tools that will help you find print and electronic primary and secondary materials:

1. Library Search

2. A-Z Databases

 

Don't just use Google for information!

Google will find lots of information and is a great tool for examining certain kinds of material such as blogs and other openly accessible web resources.  However, the information you find will vary greatly in terms of accuracy, currency bias etc. Always evaluate the material for research quality.

As well as containing information that is not exposed through Google, the Library research tools also allow you to be more precise with your searching as they offer specialist research database features to improve your research discovery.

Explore the guidance on Library Search and the A-Z Databases below and then complete the self test activities to test your knowledge and understanding

Finding Resources via Library Search

Library Search is  a good starting point for introductory material for your dissertation research.

You can search for your research topic(s) and quickly and easily retrieve details of print and electronic books, journal articles and other full text material.

You can also use it to check whether we have particular books or journals you may discover during your literature searching.

Library Search

Use the Library Search LibGuide for help and guidance on searching. This will open in a new window. Close the window and return to this guide once you have finished exploring.

You will need to go beyond Library Search for more in depth research for your dissertation project, and use the Library databases.

Think of Library Search and the A-Z Databases as complementary services and choose whichever suits your research need at the time.  

Finding Resources using the A- Z Databases List

Library Search is often a good starting point for introductory material, but if you want to research the global literature on a topic, and go beyond quick full text results, then you should follow up with a database search. You can tailor your search more precisely using all the sophisticated functionality available on the research databases.  

To find databases, use the A-Z list

Each entry in the A-Z database list has an information icon. Hover over that symbol for information about the content that is available in the database and an idea of why it might be useful for research purposes. Shown below is the information for Project Muse, which is a valuable humanities research database.

You can scroll through the A-Z and choose a database if you know exactly what you are looking for.

Alternatively, you can select your subject from the drop down subject menu to see a subset of resources in that category.

The subject listings will highlight the 'core resources'; these are key databases that are likely to be of interest to anyone studying and researching in that area.

Your Subject LibGuide will also highlight recommended databases for you to explore.

 

Research material can be drawn from a wide range of different types of information. You may wish to use specialist sources such as news items, statistical data, archival and audiovisual materials.

Find out more by visiting the Searching for specific types of information libguide

Core Engineering resources

What is a database?

Research databases enable you to see what has been published in the area you are researching. They contain detailed records of thousands of journal articles, book references and conference proceedings. These records usually include the article title, authors, abstract (a brief summary), keywords (to enable your search to find it) and more.

Why should I use a database?

  • They are a valuable way of searching for published scholarly research across a wide number of sources
  • You can build complex searches using sophisticated search interfaces. There will be plenty of options to refine your searches, ensuring that the results are likely to be relevant to your needs
  • They contain huge numbers of records, and thus provide comprehensive subject coverage
  • They also provide frequent (often daily) indexing, and so are very up to date

Web of Science  (WoS) is one of the key research databases that enables you to search across global literature on a topic. You can use sophisticated search techniques to help pinpoint the information you need. You can also use WoS functionality to link through to full text (where available) and examine related references and cited references in order to broaden your research.

See below for brief instructions on how to search the database.

Make sure you visit the tutorial, available in the self-test activities section on this page, for more detailed guidance.

Once you click the Search button, the results page appears:

It is important to note:

  • Some databases provide full text access to the articles themselves.
  • Some databases are primarily indexes or bibliographic databases, and although they provide information about the content of a journal article, they may not provide full-text access to the actual article itself.
  • Some databases are a mixture of full-text and indexed/bibliographic access.

 

So, when searching databases, be prepared for an extra step. 

After finding a relevant article or book you need to check whether you have access to that item, either in print or in full-text online.  Many of the databases will have a Check for this at Exeter button; clicking on this link will check whether we have access to the item.

 

For more information and top tips on finding the full text, see the How to access full text articles libguide.

In some cases, material you want to consult may not be available to you at Exeter. 

You will be using vast literature databases which feature many millions of resources from around the world. There are a number of options that may be of assistance to connect you with the information you need. 
 

Document Delivery Service

This service can be used  to request books/journal articles from other libraries. There is a charge for this service. Check online to see what arrangements are in place with your College / Department for covering the costs of this service.  You may have an allocation or your supervisor may provide a prepaid token for the request. 

 

Student Book Suggestion Scheme

Students cn make book suggestion to the Library. Submit requests online and they will be reviewed by the library.   If the book is unlikely to be used by others after your dissertation work, then you may br directed to the Document Deliveryscheme instead, for short term access to a

 

COPAC

COPAC is a joint catalogue for academic libraries across the UK. You can search to see if copies of books/journals are available in other libraries that you could visit whilst at home over the vacation, or by a special trip.  Always check the access requirements before you travel, if you wish to visit another library.  Find out more about visiting other libraries. 

 

Other resources that may be useful to you are listed below. Hover over the 'i' to see a brief description.

Take some time to explore these resources.

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