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English: effective library research for dissertations: 4. Find: Where to Search

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

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 activities to test your knowledge and understanding

Library Search Demos

Library Search Activities


Library Search: Quiz
 

A-Z Databases Activities

A-Z Databases

Library Search

Library Search

Finding Resources via Library Search

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

 

A search for Victorian literature in Library Search returns the following catalogue results. Note the type of content. There is a mixture of print and electronic texts.

This search finds matches in book and journal titles (and in brief details such as subject terms, contents page listing details).  For more granular searching within the content of books and journals you should use the Articles + more feature of Library Search and the research databases.

You will find many results on the Articles + more tab than the Catalogue tab if you were to run the same Victorian literature search.

In addition to all the content in the Catalogue tab, there is also a wide range of content from various full text resources, with journal articles, book chapters and other full text resources that match your search terms.

This search has been refined to Academic Journals (using the options on the left hand side).

Articles + more 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.  

You can also use Library Search to check on the availability of print and online journal titles.

As you begin searching the research databases you may find references to particular journal articles that look interesting.  Some databases only include short bibliographic details of articles with an abstract.  If you want to read the full text you can use Library Search to discover if you have full text access.

To search for journal titles, just enter some/all of the journal title into the library Search box and then browse the Catalogue tab to check for access.

A search for Victorian Literature and Culture returns the following catalogue results, with the journal title typically returned at the top of the results list. Click on the title for more details.

In this example for Victorian Literature and Culture you can see that there is:

  • current access via Cambridge University Press
  • archive access via  Literature Online, JSTOR and Cambridge Journals Digital Archive

You will often find that journal coverage is split across journal and archive services.

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.  

Think of Library Search and the databases as 

complementary research tools and choose whichever best needs your needs as you move through your research.

To find databases, use the A-Z list

See the next tabs for help with finding the best databases for your topic.

Use the Database Targets worksheet to record useful databases as you explore.

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.

Select databases by Subject

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.

Select databases by Type

You can select a database type from the drop down type menu to see a subset of resources in that category.

For example, you may want to focus on news, official publications or reference works databases

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