A guide to subject guides

One of the key parts of our role as librarians is to help staff and students find the things they need to complete their work. One way in which we do this is to create subject guides, which are like mini websites which collate all kinds of useful links and information we think will be helpful to those working and studying at the University.

You can find a full list of the subject guides we’ve made here, but some of our most popular during 2020-2021 have been the guides for Law, Business, East Asian Studies, English Literature and Engineering. As you’ll see from this list we have guides dedicated to each School and sometimes very specific guides which deal with subjects within those schools.

However we’ve also created guides which we believe are helpful resources for all students in any subject. For example our Exam and Revision guide is aimed at any student looking for top tips and news on the help that’s available from the library and university services to help make their studying more successful.

A screen capture of the Exams and Revision subject guide

Our Dissertation Festival guide contains loads of useful resources for students based on the events that took place in our recent Dissertation Festival (March 2021). Check it out if you’re looking for advice on how to get started with your dissertation research, or are interested in finding out more about some of the collections available from our library suppliers. Just like a face-to-face event you can also pick up your Festival Bag from this page, jam-packed with videos, information and helpful tips. You’ll hear more about the Dissertation Festival from one of our student interns in the coming weeks so watch this space!

Over the summer we’re working on guides relating to Disability and Open Resources which will be published in the coming months.

Did you know we take requests?
If you think that there’s a previously untapped topic we should make a guide for, please let us know by leaving a comment on this post or emailing your Academic Support Librarian using the links on this page. We’d love to hear from you!

SarahLouise McDonald, Academic Support Librarian

Dissertation Festival Blog: Engineering Village resources for dissertations

Introduction

The day has finally arrived, the end of my Dissertation Festival Blog series. To recap, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They united to host a series of virtual sessions spanning over two weeks to provide students with the knowledge and resources required to make the most out of their dissertations. The Festival is a fantastic opportunity to learn tips and tricks to help you write, reference and uncover what support is available to you at the University. In this blog series, I review sessions I have attended and share my thoughts.

The Session

For my final event, I went subject-specific, as I attended “Engineering Village resources for dissertations” hosted by a staff member from Elsevier.  The session began with an explanation of Engineering Village and how it can help with your dissertation. To summarise, Engineering Village is a powerful search platform that provides access to multiple engineering literature databases. These reliable sources range from journals to conference proceedings and trade publications to press articles. It is essentially a one-stop-shop for all things engineering literature. If you are confused about how you could have missed such a powerful platform, don’t worry – you may already be aware of some of the databases found within Engineering Village; these include Knovel, Compendex and Inspec!

During the session, short tutorials of Knovel, Compendex and Inspec were given with their key features highlighted. I found Knovel to be most interesting as the database provides you with the opportunity to search materials’ properties, pulling this numeric data from handbooks, manuals, and databanks so you can access what you need quickly. It also allows you to search for equations and contains tools such as a unit converter and interactive graphs to aid your research.

Screenshot from Knovel website taken to illustrate Material Property Search

Screenshot from Knovel website taken to illustrate the Material Property Search feature

Both Compendex and Inspec are comprehensive bibliographic databases of engineering research covering engineering and applied sciences. Compendex is more holistic and is the broadest, most complete engineering database in the world. On the other hand, Inspec provides engineering research information on physics, electrical engineering and electronics, computers and control, production engineering, information technology, and more. Using Engineering Village, you can search both databases simultaneously, ensuring you are getting the most relevant and up to date information.

Thoughts and Conclusion

The session was highly informative and helped me understand how to use the unique search features and specialised Engineering Village tools to improve my research productivity.  I believe Engineering Village is a resource relevant to all STEM students or students whose work requires reliable scientific data. For dissertation use, the database can have a range of applications, so it is well worth further inspection. You can directly access Knovel, Compendex and Inspec from the University Library Databases page!

Thank you for reading this blog, and I hope you enjoyed it. Unfortunately, a recorded version of the session is not available, so you have to wait until the next Dissertation Festival to see the event live! However, you can access other Dissertation Festival recordings from a dedicated playlist HERE and read previous blogs in the series HERE and HERE.

Dissertation Festival Blog: How to use the library remotely for your dissertation

How to use the library remotely for your dissertation banner

Introduction

It’s time for the second blog! These dissertation festival blogs are an opportunity for me to share my thoughts on the Dissertation Festival Events I have attended. For those who don’t know, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They have shared a series of virtual events to provide students with the knowledge and resources to make the most out of their dissertations or theses.  To find out more about the festival, click HERE, and you can see my previous blog HERE.

The Session

Hopefully, you should all be aware of the University Library and its associated buildings. Something you may not be conscious of are all the online and offline resources they have on offer. I must admit, even I (a student intern within the Library and University Collections department) am not 100% sure what “RaB” means or that you could easily filter your results on DiscoverEd (see the image below). I learned that and more in the “How to use the Library remotely for your dissertation” event.

Image showing how you can limit searches on DiscoverEd

How to limit search options on DiscoverEd

The session began by covering the basics of accessing resources. For online materials, that meant a comprehensive tutorial on how to search on DiscoverEd and a discussion as to why you may need to use the University’s VPN to obtain specific resources. Print was a little bit trickier to communicate (understandably), but directions were given to regularly check the Library Services Update page for the latest information in response to Government Guidelines.

For finding resources about a particular research area, Library Databases are a great place to go. They can give you a window into the literature you are interested in and contain specialist resources produced by experts. If you are unsure what you are looking for, the Library has made searching easier as you can browse databases based on by subject or as a complete A-Z list!

Now, I am sure at this point you are wondering what is “RaB”? During the session, I learned that if the Library doesn’t have the book you require, or it is only available as a print version, you can … Request a Book (RaB). It is such an excellent service that I am sure be beneficial for anyone, not only those completing their dissertation. Another valuable service feature offered by the Library are Inter-Library Loans (ILLs) which enable you to request digital copies of articles and book chapters from other libraries!

Thoughts and Conclusion

If I were to summarise this session in just one saying, it would be “It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks”. During the event, I was pleasantly surprised by all the new knowledge I gained, especially about DiscoverEd – a service I have been regularly using over the past 4 years! I was also reminded about other fantastic resources and features supported by the Library, which would help you with your dissertation, thesis, and even general studies!

If you are interested in the session and want to check it out, you can find it HERE!

Thanks for checking out the blog, see you at the next one.

Dissertation Festival Blog: So… what is a systematic review?

Introduction

Welcome to the first of three blogs, where I document my Dissertation Festival Experience. For those who don’t know, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They have come together to host a series of virtual sessions spanning over two weeks, providing students with the knowledge and resources to make the most out of their dissertations. Think Tomorrowland, Glastonbury and Coachella but online, free and hosted by the University of Edinburgh. So not quite the same. However, the Dissertation Festival is a fantastic opportunity to learn tips and tricks to help you write, reference and uncover what support is available to you at the University.  

The Session

The first Dissertation Festival session participated in was titled “What is a Systematic Review dissertation like?”. I decided to attend because was interested in finding out how systematic reviews (SR) differed from other dissertation types. Luckily, this was thoroughly covered within the presentation. After the first 5 minutes of the event, I was able to explain that the goal of a systematic review;  to answer a specific question in a topic area using reproducible review principles.    

Slide from Dissertation Festival used to help illustrate where different review approaches

Slide from Dissertation Festival used to help illustrate where different review approaches sit

Other key points of the session include “The supporting principles of a SR” which highlighted the need for a pre-defined and detailed methodology. This was an important topic for me as I am typically more of a ‘go-with-the-flow type person when writing pieces of work. However, now knowing the aims of an SR, I am confident that is not the best strategy. Instead, you should develop a clear plan (in advance), have an inclusion criterion for studies you are considering, find ways to avoid bias and document all your SR  activities. 

Thoughts and Conclusion

I would recommend this session for those who are just about to carry out a dissertation or thesis and don’t know where to start. The presentation is designed to help you gain a basic level of understanding a SR and what it entails. For all, you indecisive people out there or those who don’t know what research method to use, the pros and cons list shown in the presentation can help you evaluate if this is the right research method for you! Throughout the session, there were lots of valuable pieces of advice and information given. There were also signposts for further knowledge items to help you further your understanding in your own time.  

If you are interested in the session and want to check it out, you can find it HERE! Thanks for checking out the blog.