Top 5 tips if you’re stuck with your dissertation literature search

Are you stuck with the literature search for your dissertation or final year project? Not finding as much on your topic as you hoped? Here are 5 suggestions to help you move forward.

1. Look again at your search strategy.

By this I mean identifying terminology and keywords – also geographical or date limits for your search . Consider alternative terminology e.g. synonyms, alternative spellings, variant terminology, changes in terminology over time, abbreviations, etc. Increase the number of relevant keywords and you increase the potential of finding good material. Continue reading

How using a reference manager can help you manage the references for your dissertation

Finding literature and gathering references from here, there and everywhere? Don’t want to get to a few days before hand in and realise you don’t have the full details of one (or more) important articles/books/etc., to cite properly? Find typing up your citations and bibliographies time consuming? Well, reference managers may be exactly what you are looking for.

Why do you need to use a reference manager?

When you are collecting information from a variety of sources, it can all overwhelm before you know it!  A reference manager can help you by providing a space to keep all your references in one place. You can both create references manually or import from external source such as database. You then have the option to annotate them and/or keep them in different folder.

It gets better!

When you are working on your dissertation, you can cite your reference in your work as you write. The reference manager will insert the references for you in your particular style, e.g. Harvard, MLA, Chicago, APA, etc., and create your bibliography at the same time. Continue reading

Getting Beyond Google Scholar – great tools to help you find information for your dissertation

Are you planning on consulting Google Scholar to find literature for your dissertation? While it is very easy to use and can be a good place to start, particularly since you can set it to retrieve what we have in the Library, it does have its limitations. As its coverage is not clear, you cannot be sure just what you might be missing with Google. Which is where the Library can help!

Details from the ceiling space of the McEwan Hall during the 2016 refurbishment of the building. © The University of Edinburgh

We offer a whole range of electronic ‘finding’ tools and resources, across a broad range of subject areas, to help you locate the research literature and other information for your topic. Although we have pulled them together as ‘databases’, you will find they present a mixture of bibliographic databases and other searchable full-text resources.

So why use them?

Continue reading