Have you heard about LibSmart?

We’re midway through the first semester now, and many students will have settled into the routine of lectures, seminars and practical class preparation. You may even be thinking ahead to the end-of-module deadlines moving ever closer, and beginning to consider how to research and write assignments. For some students this can be stressful or confusing as they realise they don’t really know where to start with looking up resources to back up their work. Don’t panic though, we’ve got you!

Promotional image for LibSmart: Your Library Research Starts Here. Text reads 'take your digital and information literacy skills to the next level using self-enrol courses LibSmart I and II.

Enter, LibSmart! This is our online information literacy course which you can access via Learn at any time throughout your studies. It’s self-enrol and open to absolutely everyone, and will provide you with a great grounding in how to access resources online and via the library, and how to reference your research correctly. There’s five modules in LibSmart I and although we recommend you work through them all, you can dip in and out of the bits you feel you need a bit of help with.

If you’ve completed that, you may find that you want to go a step further. In that case, check out LibSmart II which has ten modules on a variety of different topics all designed to help you get to grips with a specific focus. Unlike LibSmart I we don’t ask you to work through all the modules here, just pick ‘n’ mix your favourites! You might be interested in health information and systematic reviews, or legal information and government and policy research. Maybe you’re unsure of what’s in our Special Collections and you’d like to explore that more fully. Students who’ve completed these modules before have said that they’re extremely useful and relevant to their work.

If this sounds interesting to you, you can find out more on the LibSmart webpage. Remember you can access LibSmart any time you like throughout the year, and for each module you complete you get a digital badge!

There’s a video here on how to self-enrol in case you’re unsure of the steps. Hope to see you in LibSmart soon!

screengrab of opening scene of video demonstration for how to enrol on libsmart. Image is hyperlinked to the video hosted on Media Hopper.

Welcome! Key library resources for 2022/23

It’s been a bit quiet here on the ASL blog for the past couple of months and that’s because August and September are always spent preparing for the start of the new semester. Now that we’re well underway we’ve been busy doing inductions and welcome sessions to highlight some of our excellent services to new and returning students. In case you’ve missed any of the vital information we like you to have, here are some helpful links!


Library pages: You can find loads of helpful information about our services and library sites here. Look for opening hours, information on borrowing, and how to request resources here.

DiscoverEd: what we call a ‘library discovery tool’ is really what you might call the library catalogue. Look here for readings and research or just to explore the library collections! There’s a great guide on using DiscoverEd here. It’s a Microsoft Sway document but if you need a more accessible version please get in touch with us.

Resource Lists: online reading lists to help you find the core material for classes. Your course organisers have curated these to make sure you can easily access what you need. This link will take you to guides and videos for using Resource Lists too.

Library Subject Guides: these are curated pages of information that our team make up to help you with your studies. There are guides available for a huge range of subject areas and topics of interest.

LibSmart: this is our online information literacy course that you can enrol on any time throughout your time at University. We know not everyone comes to uni feeling confident about finding information, especially online, so this course has been built to guide you through some foundation skills. Follow the five modules in LibSmart I to help you get used to finding information and using the library’s collections, and dip in and out of LibSmart II’s modules on any subject that interests you!


These are just some of our top tips to help you get started during your time at the University of Edinburgh, but if you have questions at any time you can contact our team of librarians to help you get what you need. There’s a list of who deals with each subject on our website so please do get in touch, or leave us a comment on this post.

Check in with our blog regularly as we’ll be posting throughout the year about the upcoming Dissertation Festival, top features of LibSmart, new training sessions we offer, and much more!

Recordings of Lunchtime Seminars: Decolonising and Diversifying the Library

Our recent post on Decolonising and Diversifying the Library introduced the short seminar series the ASL team ran during lunchtimes in July. We’re delighted to be able to follow up that post with the news that recordings of all three sessions have now been added to Media Hopper. Please use the links below to access the videos:

Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading ListsOpening slide from Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading Lists presentationSupporting Diversity using the ECA Artists Book and Zine CollectionsTitle slide from session on 'supporting diversity with the ECA library artists books & zines collections'

Diversifying your Reading List from a Student PerspectiveTitle slide for session on Diversifying your Reading from a Student Perspective.

For more information on these sessions or if you have ideas for what you’d like to see in future lunchtime seminars, please contact us by email or leave us a comment.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery: primary sources

For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were victims of the transatlantic slave trade. And on 25th March every year, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system, while also raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

At the Library we have access to a range of digital resources that give you access to original primary source material from archives around the world that allow you to find out more about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the victims of slavery. These are a few that you might like to explore:

Slavery: supporters and abolitionists, 1675-1865
(also known as Slavery Through Time: from Enslavers to Abolitionists, 1675-1865)

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Finding Resources: Subject Guides

Where to start?

Following on from my general tips for finding resources and navigating the online library, this blog post will cover why you should check out Subject Guides, and highlights some resources, old and new, that you may not already know about for studies. 

When you are looking for resources, remember not everything in the Library collection is on DiscoverEd, so it’s best to check out your Subject Guide.  

Subject Guides bring together all the most relevant library resources for a subject or topic. These guides, put together by Academic Support Librarians (ASLs), are always a good place to start when you’re looking for resources.   Continue reading

Mixed Methods Reviews

Most researchers have heard of and understand the needs of a systematic review (SR), however the concept of a mixed methods review (MMR) can be confusing. The types of questions students and researchers ask can include:

  • Can I do this type of research?
  • How do I combine the data?
  • My quantitative and qualitative data are different – how do I make sense of this?

MMRs differ from the traditional model of SR as they aim to answer complex interventions and social policy type questions. They go beyond what works and look to highlight the complexity of what is happening, to explain why things make an impact and what may influence how an intervention works, offering context to interventions.

To answer such questions MMRs need to draw from both quantitative and qualitative material (Pearson et al, 2015), but this does not mean they cannot be systematic!

To be systematic they should demonstrate the same transparent and explicit approach that established SR methods require – so have a protocol, as well as detailed reporting of methods. There would need to be appraisal and analysis of the included literature. They would need to show a rigorous research process (Gough et al, 2017).

There are different review approaches included in this type of research, but it is important that the research question uses both qualitative and quantative data. If the research question does not then it may be better to use another type of review method. An overview of review types can be found in an article by Sutton et al (2019).

How the types of data are combined depends on the research objectives of the review.

The resource SAGE Research Methods (which is available to all staff and students at the University via our Library Databases pages) has lots of information and advice on the ways that the differing data can be analysed and combined, as well as an overview of this family of research methodology.

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/databases-a-z/databases-s

Book cover for SAGE handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioural ResearchBook cover for Mixed Methods Research: A guide to the fieldBook cover for An Introduction To Fully Integrated Mixed Methods Research

Donna Watson
Academic Support Librarian 

Finding Resources: Navigating the Online Library

The Online Library is a vast resource. Whatever you study, you will find what you need in the Library collections. For all that it is wide and wonderful, however, I know (from personal experience) navigating the Online Library can be overwhelming. Read on for tips on where to look for resources and how to get the best out of the Online Library… 

Subject Guides 

Subject Guides are a great place to start your search for resources. If you haven’t already, head over to the Subject Guides list and find all the most relevant library resources for your subject and more… 

Check out our blog dedicated to Subject Guides for more information, coming soon...
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