Tag Archives: literature searching

A dynamic guide to literature searching

Stratford Library

Every now and then we get the opportunity to play with some new tools to see what they can do to help students either make better use of library resources or to support their learning. Personally speaking, it’s one of my favourite aspects of the job, trying out new tools, seeing how they work and seeing if there are ways they can be used to support students. It was with this in mind that I realise experimented with a new tool that we can use via Office 365: Sway.

Sway’s an interesting tool. It’s somewhere like a cross between a PowerPoint and a Prezi. It enables you to prepare little tutorials that incorporate text, photo and video elements relatively quickly and easily. Admittedly, it took me a little while to get my head around how it works, but after a little playing around it actually seemed fairly straightforward.

To get to grips with how it works, I decided to convert my recent post on systematic literature searching into one of these dynamic Sway presentations. Of course, I had to take a slightly different approach when putting it together, in the sense that I needed to strip it back a little and make it a little less text heavy as it could become quite tedious with a lot of text on screen. So I stripped it back and made it a bit more concise, whilst also retaining the key messages in the tutorial (well, I think I managed that anyway!).

You can view the full Sway on literature searching for psychology here (you will need to login with your UEL email address and password to view it). If you have any feedback or comments, please do post them in the comments below. And if you have any queries about literature searching in general, plus do get in touch!


Searching PsycInfo – a video guide

Thanks to the availability of a Mac with easy to use screen recording software, I’ve put together a short video that talks you through searching on PsycInfo using the thesaurus. It also explains searching on Academic Search Complete and PsycInfo together using keyword searching and goes through the filters that you can use to help you refine your search results.

I hope you find it useful!

What can your subject librarian do for you?

A quick video I knocked together on just one of the ways in which I can help you. The video was put together using Adobe Voice on iOS (using an iPad), it’s very easy to do if you want to pull together a quick informative clip. Aside from literature searching sessions, do let me know if we don’t have enough copies of key texts or if you have any issues with regards to library services.

Postgraduate Literature Searching Workshops Ahoy!

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As promised in my various induction and refresher sessions over the past few weeks, I’m running a couple of literature searching workshops next week for postgraduate psychology students. The sessions will cover the key databases as well as sharing some tips and tricks to help you effectively and efficiently search for research articles on your chosen topic.

A thorough literature search is a fundamental element of the research processs and ensuring a comprehensive search of the research literature is essential to ensure your work is of the highest quality. There is nothing worse than completing your research topic and finding you have missed a key paper on your chosen topic. By conducting an extensive literature search, you can minimise the chances of that happening and I’m going to show you how!

Further sessions will be planned to take place in November so fear not if you can’t come along to this one (if there are other days that are more suitable, please let me know in the comments and I will try – as much as possible – to factor this into the planning of future sessions).

Undergraduates: stay tuned! I will post news as soon as possible about workshops catered to you.

To sign up for a session please click the link for a ticket as indicated below and use your UEL email address when signing up (just so I can ensure that the person requesting a place is a UEL student!).

Friday, 6 November 2015 from 10:00 to 12:00 [reserve a place]

Friday, 6 November 2015 from 14:00 to 16:00 [reserve a place]

Both sessions will take place in SL205 at Stratford library (ask at the helpdesk in the library if you are not sure where this is).

Stay tuned for details of more sessions by either subscribing via RSS (click the orange icon at the top in the side bar on the right) or by entering your UEL email address in the Subscribe Here! box.

Professional Doctorate Literature Searching Workshop

The above session is geared towards Professional Doctoral students (in this case Educational and Child Psychology). (You can download the file – which is better for viewing – here [PDF].)

A number of useful resources are listed on the slides in terms of searching for resources elsewhere, these resources include:

search25 – searching collections in libraries that belog to the M25 consortium.
Copac – combined catalogues of major UK research libraries.
Worldcat – worldwide catalogue of mainly public libraries.
British Library – the UK’s legal deposit library (ie all UK publications must be deposited at the British Library).
Core – large open access repository searching repositories from across the world.
Suncat – journal holdings at other university libraries
ResearchGate – commercial repository of academic research (bit like a social network for researchers).

Literature searching workshop #UELGetReady

I’m running another literature searching workshop for postgraduates at UEL on Wednesday 13th May from 1400-1530 at Stratford Library. The workshop will explore the use of Ebsco, ScienceDirect and Scopus, as well as looking at some other resources that may be helpful.

If you aren’t able to make it on this date, you can always contact me to arrange a one-to-one and I can help you with your literature searching in a much more tailored fashion (whether you are undergraduate or postgraduate!). Simply send me a message via the contact form link at the top of this page, let me know your availability and I’ll do what I can to arrange a one hour session with you.

Furthermore, if you are interested in these workshops but other times and days are more convenient, please let me know in the comments field below so that I can keep this in mind when I organise future workshops.

If you would like to come along on the 13th May, please sign up for a ticket via the Eventbrite link below using your UEL email address (just so that I can identify you as a UEL student rather than the dreaded spam!).

See you at Stratford Library on the 13th May!

How to conduct a literature search – 13th May 1400-1530, Stratford Library [reserve a place]

The problem with searching for journal articles using internet search engines

(Image c/o JD Hancock on Flickr)

Internet search engines are great. They help you find information quickly and easily. They are, however, not always necessarily the best tool to use in searching for academic papers. They are not particularly sophisticated and don’t necessarily point you in the right direction to access the papers you need.

Take Google Scholar (other internet search engines are available!). A lot of people tell me that they’ve searched on Google Scholar but either cannot find many papers that are relevant to their needs or they find the papers but cannot access them. This is not necessarily because we do not have access to the papers required, but is down to the way Google and the databases we subscribe to work.

For my school (Psychology) the key databases are PsycInfo and PsycArticles, both provided by EBSCO (you can access both of them via this link). These two databases include a lot of papers published by a number of different publishers (and by the way, everything in PsycArticles is also in PsycInfo!). But publishers also have their own sites that host content for each of their publications. So you can find journal titles hosted on the Taylor and Francis or Wiley websites, for example. However, often our access to a particular journal is not via the publisher website, but via EBSCO. And this is where the problems can arise.

Internet search engines (include Google Scholar!) are unable to search within EBSCO. Consequently, if you conduct a search and find a journal article published by, for example, Taylor and Francis, the search engine will take you to the Taylor and Francis page for that particular article. At this point, you will think you do not have access to the article because access is provided by EBSCO rather than Taylor and Francis.

There are a couple of ways to get around this. First of all, restrict your use of Google Scholar and internet search engines. It can be useful, but you are much better off using any of our dedicated databases. The databases will direct you to the content you can access, and also enables you to conduct more sophisticated searching, particularly in terms of filtering your search results. EBSCO in particular enables you to filter by methodology, age, gender, subject heading and more. The fact that it makes our subscribed content easier to find and easier to filter is a huge advantage over internet search engines, particularly when conducting research.

Second, if you do use an internet search engine and come up against an article that you cannot access, head to Library Search, paste the title of the journal in the search window (under the “Books and more” heading) and it will tell you whether we have access to the journal in question, which database includes the journal and what coverage the database provides access to.

I would never say avoid using it altogether as it can be a useful starting point. However, it is only ever a starting point. Your research should never begin and end on Google Scholar (or any internet search engine).  In short, when conducting your literature searching, focus the majority of your searching on our databases and Library Search. Use internet search engines if you must, but keep in mind that they are limited and should never be your sole source when literature searching. And if you need help searching any of our specialist databases, please do get in touch to arrange a one-to-one, either with myself (for Psychology students) or your subject librarian.

Happy searching!

Ian Clark

email: i.clark@uel.ac.uk | twitter: @PsycLib_UEL