AM Explorer – your primary source hub (trial access)

I’m happy to let you know that the Library currently has extended trial access to AM Explorer, your gateway to millions of pages of primary source content. AM’s collections provide access to digitised historical materials – manuscripts, government records, rare books, maps and more – across a wide range of disciplines, from History to English Literature, Gender Studies, Sociology, Economics, Area Studies, Political Sciences and more.

Screenshot of the AM Explorer homepage.

You can access AM Explorer via the E-resources trials page.

Trial access ends 8 July 2024.

While the Library already has permanent access to 21 collections from AM (listed at end) this trial access to AM Explorer gives us access to a further 66 collections covering world history from the 15th century up to modern times.

AM Explorer allows you to search through all 87 collections at one time. You can use their search to explore through a single keyword search; take a deep dive into your areas of interest; and discover new archival materials to serve your research, learning and teaching. Continue reading

Systematic Reviews: five frequently asked questions

When the Academic Support Librarians provide help for students and researchers who are conducting large-scale reviews, such as systematic and scoping reviews, we find that often the same questions will come up. This blog post aims to answer five of your frequently asked questions about systematic reviews and provide some useful resources for you to explore further.

For even more advice about systematic review guidance, see the library’s subject guide on systematic reviews and LibSmart II: Literature Searching for Systematic Reviews.

Now let’s dive in to five Frequently Asked Questions…

1. What is a systematic review, and how does it differ from other types of literature review?

A funnel.

Image by Mugé from Pixabay

According to the Cochrane Collaboration, a leading group in the production of evidence synthesis and systematic reviews;

systematic reviews are large syntheses of evidence, which use rigorous and reproducible methods, with a view to minimise bias, to identify all known data on a specific research question.1

This is done by a large, complex literature search in databases and other sources, using multiple search terms and search techniques.

Traditional literature reviews, such as the literature review chapter in a dissertation, don’t usually apply the same rigour in their methods because, unlike systematic reviews, synthesise all known data on a topic. Literature reviews can provide context or background information for a new piece of research, or can stand alone as a general guide to what is already known about a particular topic2.

What about scoping reviews?

There are other review types in the systematic review “family”3. You may have also heard of scoping reviews. These are similar to systematic reviews, in that they employ transparent reporting of reproducible methods and synthesise evidence, but they do so in order to identify knowledge gaps, scope a body of literature, clarify concepts or to investigate research conduct4. Literature searching for scoping reviews will be similarly comprehensive, but may be more iterative than in systematic reviews.

Useful resources:

 

2. Which databases should I use?

Choosing appropriate databases in which to search is important, as it determines the comprehensiveness of your review. Using multiple databases means you are searching across a wider breadth of literature, as different databases will index different journals.

The list of Databases by Subject and the library subject guides can guide you to key databases for your topic.

To get an idea which databases are best suited to yield the data you need, you can also look at published systematic reviews on similar topics to yours, to see which databases those authors used.

The number of databases you use to search will vary depending on the research query, but it is important to use multiple databases to mitigate database bias and publication bias. More important than the number of databases is using the appropriate databases for the subject to find all the relevant data.

Useful resources:

 

3. What is grey literature and how do I find it?

You may have read that you should include grey literature in your sources of data for your review.

The term ‘grey literature’ refers to a wide range of information which is not formally or commercially published, and which is often not well represented in library research databases.

Using grey literature will help you to find current and emerging research, to broaden your research, and to mitigate against publication bias.

Sources and types of grey literature will vary between research topics. Some examples include:

  • Clinical trials
  • Conference papers and proceedings
  • Datasets
  • Dissertations and theses
  • Government documents and reports

 

  • NGOs documents and reports
  • Patents
  • Policy statements
  • Pre-prints
  • Statistical reports
  • White papers, working papers

Key sources of grey literature

Finding grey literature can be tricky because it can vary a lot in type and where it’s published. To help you, the Library’s subject guide has some key sources of grey literature to explore. The Library also has several databases which include records of dissertations and theses, which can be a source of relevant data for your review.

Another useful approach is using a domain search in Google to search within the websites of key organisations or professional bodies in your subject. For example, searching site: followed by a domain in Google:

site:who.int will search within the WHO website.

site:gov.uk will search only websites with a url that ends .gov.uk

 

4. How do I translate searches between databases?

Illustration of two screens.

Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay

You may have heard that you need to ‘translate’ your search. This simply means taking the search you have developed in the database and optimising it to work best in a different database.

The way you tell a database to search for a term in the title of the record, or the command for searching for terms in close proximity to each other, will be different between databases and platforms.

For example, in the medical literature database Ovid Medline, the search for a subject heading on gestational diabetes is Diabetes, Gestational/ whereas the nursing database EbscoHost CINAHL uses MH “Diabetes Mellitus, Gestational”. Both the syntax that refers to a subject heading needs to be translated (/ to MH) and the subject heading itself is different (Diabetes, Gestational to Diabetes Mellitus, Gestational).

You can practice translating a search in the Learn course LibSmart II in the module on Literature Searching for Systematic Reviews. We also have a Library Bitesize session on translating literature search strategies across databases coming up in April.

Useful resources:

 

5. Do you have any training for systematic review?

Cartoon laptop.

Image by José Miguel from Pixabay

We do! The Learn course LibSmart II: Advance Your Library Research has a whole module on Literature Searching for Systematic Reviews.  LibSmart II can be found in Essentials in Learn. If you don’t see it there, contact your Academic Support Librarian and we’ll get you enrolled.

We also have several recorded presentations on systematic reviews on our Media Hopper channel, including ‘What is a systematic review dissertation like?’ and ‘How to test your systematic review searches for quality and relevance’.

For self-paced training on the whole process of conducting a systematic review, Cochrane Interactive Learning has modules created by methods experts so you build your knowledge one step at a time. Perfect for what can be an overwhelming research method.

If you are a student conducting a systematic review, we can highly recommend the book Doing a Systematic Review (2023). With a friendly, accessible style, the book covers every step of the systematic review process, from planning to dissemination.

—–

The FAQs in this post are taken from the library subject guide on Systematic Review Guidance where you can find even more information and advice about conducting large-scale literature reviews.

You can contact your Academic Support Librarian for advice on literature searching, using databases, and managing the literature you find.

—–

References

  1. Higgins, J., et al., Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.4 (updated August 2023). 2023, Cochrane.
  2. Mellor, L. The difference between a systematic review and a literature review, Covidence. 2021. Available at: https://www.covidence.org/blog/the-difference-between-a-systematic-review-and-a-literature-review/. (Accessed: 20 March 2024).
  3. Sutton, A., et al., Meeting the review family: exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 2019. 36(3): p. 202-222.
  4. Munn, Z., et al., Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Med Res Methodol, 2018. 18(1): p. 143.

Looking Under the Scope this LGBT+ History Month

LGBT+ History Month Badge Design.February is LGBT+ History Month and this year’s theme is #UnderTheScope. This celebrates LGBT+ peoples’ contribution to the field of Medicine and Healthcare both historically and today.

To help you learn more we’ve pulled together just a small selection of Library resources that will allow you to start to look ‘Under the Scope’.

Books

Book coverFor a rich examination of the history of trans medicine and current day practice, Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender draws on interviews with medical providers as well as ethnographic and archival research to examine how health professionals approach patients who seek gender-affirming care. The essays in Queer Interventions in Biomedicine and Public Health historicise and theorise diagnosis, particularly diagnosis that impacts trans health and sexuality, queer health and identity, and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Book cover

#UnderTheScope also aims to shine a light on the health inequalities facing LGBT people even today. Transgender health: a practitioner’s guide to binary and non-binary trans patient care shows healthcare and medical practitioners how to deliver excellent care to gender diverse patients. Based on cutting edge research and the lived experience of the author as a non-binary person, this is essential reading for all those working to meet the needs of transgender people in healthcare settings. The remedy: queer and trans voices on health and health care invites readers to imagine what we need to create healthy, and thriving LGBT+ communities in this anthology of real-life stories from queer and trans people on their own health-care experiences and challenges.

LGBT collections at Lothian Health Services Archive

Some of the LGBT-related resources held by Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA) include the archive of Lothian Gay and Lesbian Switchboard, the UK’s first gay helpline and Scotland’s first gay charity, and unrivaled collections that document Edinburgh’s response to HIV from 1983 to the 21st century, spanning voluntary groups, charities, local authorities, the NHS, and health promotion campaigns.

The source list on the LHSA website provides a detailed list of LGBT resources in LHSA.

LHSA is part of the University’s Heritage Collections and holds the historically important local records of NHS hospitals and other health-related material. For information about visiting please read the information on Services and Access.

More resources to look Under the Scope

If you want to further explore LGBT+ peoples’ contribution to medicine and healthcare then you can use some of the Library’s research databases to search for journal articles, book chapters, reviews, theses, conference papers, etc., on this topic and beyond.Screenshot of Archives of Sexuality and Gender

Archives of Sexuality & Gender provides a significant collection of primary sources for the historical study of sex, sexuality, and gender. With material dating back to the sixteenth century, you can examine how sexual norms have changed over time, health and hygiene, the development of sex education, social movements and activism, and many other interesting topical areas.

Use the online resource LGBT Thought and Culture to find books, periodicals, and archival materials documenting LGBT political, social and cultural movements throughout the twentieth century and into the present day. The collection illuminates the lives of lesbians, gays, transgender, and bisexual individuals and the community.

Researching hidden and forbidden people from the past can be difficult. Terminology used to write about LGBT+ people has shifted over time or is obscured. A practical guide to searching LGBTQIA historical records is an accessible guide to doing historical research on LGBT+ subjects in libraries, archives and museums.

Even more resources to help you discover LGBT+ history can be found in the Gender and Sexuality Studies subject guide.

What are we missing?

This is just a small selection of the resources on LGBT+ history in the Library. However, if there are areas in the collections that could be improved or you know of a book the Library doesn’t already have, you can use the Request a Book form to tell us.

 

Note that some online resources mentioned in this blog post are only available to current students and staff at the University of Edinburgh.

Trial access: ProQuest Black Studies

As part of Black History Month at the Library, we have trial access to ProQuest Black Studies. Developed with faculty, scholars and librarians, ProQuest Black Studies brings together award-winning content into one destination that can be used for research, teaching, and learning.

Screenshot of ProQuest Black Studies homepage.

You can access ProQuest Black Studies via the E-resources trials page.

Trial access ends 15th November 2023.

ProQuest Black Studies combines primary and secondary sources, including leading historical Black newspapers, archival documents and collections, key government materials, videos, writings by major Black intellectuals and leaders, scholarly journals, and essays by top scholars in Black Studies. Continue reading

Stories To Tell: South Asian Heritage Month

From 18 July to 17 August it is South Asian Heritage Month, a chance to celebrate and raise the profile of British South Asian history, arts, culture and heritage. This year’s theme is #StoriesToTell, celebrating the stories that make up the diverse and vibrant South Asian community.

Sometimes, to understand your own story or those of others, you have to look back and in this blog post we are highlighting just a small number of digital archives you can access through the Library that allow you to learn more about South Asian history and the stories that have shaped our present and future.

South Asia Commons (formerly South Asia Archive)

Continue reading

5 things to remember if using the Library this summer

The summer vacation period officially started this week! And while many of you are probably thinking the last thing you want to do is use the Library over the summer break, there will be a large number of students who will need to (or just want to) use the Library during the summer vacation period to continue with their studies or research.

So if you are one of the many who is planning on using Library facilities or services over the summer then read on. And for those of you who are not planning on doing this, we’d recommend you read on anyway (particularly if you have not returned books you have borrowed from the Library).

1) The Main Library and all our site libraries remain open throughout the summer vacation period.

Opening hours and staffed hours will be reduced in many libraries so check the opening hours website before you visit and follow the Library on social media for any updates – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Continue reading

E-Resource trial: Skills for study

As we’re midway through the second semester, many eyes are turning to assignments and thinking ahead to final exams. Did you know that we’ve recently secured a trial of the interactive resource Skills for Study?

Screengrab from the homepage of the Skills for Study website. An image of a student studying with headphones on is overlaid with some text which reads 'Successful study starts here! Help students build the skills for success in their studies and beyond with their own personalised learning pathway.'

Based on the bestselling The Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell, Skills for Study offers an interactive and personalised solution to help students hone their academic skills while developing skills required by employers:

  • Confidence with Numbers
  • Getting Ready for Academic Study
  • Referencing and Understanding Plagiarism
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Group Work and Presentations
  • Research Principles
  • Employability and Personal Development
  • Projects, Dissertations and Reports
  • Time Management
  • Exam Skills
  • Reading and Note-making
  • Writing Skills

Each of the modules comes complete with exercises, activities, and module assessments along with supplementary videos, articles and blogs. We know how popular the Study Skills Handbook is for students from a range of disciplines, so here’s how to access this interactive resource:

That’s it, it’s that easy! More information about the trial is available on the E-Resources trials page. Our trial ends on the 24th April so have a good look before then, and if you want to offer any comments on this or any of our other E-Resource trials then please consider filling in the trial feedback form.

Resolving to reference in 2023

Whether you’re the type of person who makes New Years resolutions or not, we hope you’ll consider resolving to get comfortable with referencing this year. We have lots of resources available to help you with citations in your assignments, and we know it’s something many students struggle with and so can often leave to the end of their work. Some top tips for getting ahead of the referencing panic:

  1. Record the information you read as you go. You can do this using a reference manager, bookmarking tools in your browser or DiscoverEd, or good old pen and paper. Whatever method you’re comfortable with, starting off with good organisation will help you down the line.
  2. Leave more time than you think you’ll need. Do you usually give yourself a day or two before the assignment deadline to sort references? Double it! Triple it! Build in contingency time for writing up and correcting references – and for asking for help if you need it – and if you end up not needing all that time then submit early and then reward yourself with a treat for being ahead of the game!
  3. Be consistent. There are lots of referencing styles out there (you may already be familiar with Harvard, APA, Chicago, OSCOLA), but whichever one you use for your work, be consistent in how you reference. Make sure you have all the component parts of each type of reference and then style them in the same way each time – this helps you spot when information is missing as well as looking good.
  4. Use the tools available to you. This includes reference managers like Endnote, Zotero and Mendeley (or any others!), or even ‘quick’ citation engines like ZoteroBib or Cite This For Me. We highly recommend you use Cite Them Right Online which is a database we subscribe to for all staff and students to use – it will show you how to construct references for every type of material in a huge range of styles. Not sure how to reference a personal email, a blog post or a youtube clip? Use Cite Them Right to check! NOTE: Please make sure you check any reference that is created by a citation tool, as they are not guaranteed to be accurate.
  5. Get help in plenty of time! Still feeling lost at sea? We’ve got training sessions on the MyEd booking system and also recordings on Media Hopper (click on ‘174 media’ below the title card for the full list of videos) designed specifically to help you. There’s also part of the LibSmart online information literacy course dedicated to the basics of referencing, and we have a whole subject guide on the topic. If all else fails, contact your Academic Support Librarian and ask for a one-to-one appointment where we can sit down with you and work through the problems you’re facing.

Do you have any top tips for referencing? We’d love to hear them, you can leave them in the comments or tweet us @EdUniLibraries

E-Resources trials from the library

Welcome back to all staff and students! This blog has been a bit quiet of late due to high workload and some understaffing in our team, but we wanted to start off the new year with some good news and thought we’d alert everyone to some of the excellent e-resource trials we have going on!

Did you know?
Before the library subscribes to a new database we often arrange for a trial free of charge and link them on the E-Resources Trials page. We then ask anyone who’s tested the resource out to fill in a short feedback form to let us know their thoughts so we can decide how useful it will be for our users. Some of the trials we have ongoing at the moment are listed below.

Radical Irish Newspaper Archives

Radical Irish Newspaper Archives is an extraordinary collection of over 115 Irish radical and political newspapers, journals, pamphlets and bulletins. Fully searchable and consisting of more than 11,000 editions with a total page count of 102,755 these newspapers, according to Dr Ciarán Reilly of Maynooth University, ‘hold the key to understanding Ireland in the turbulent decades of the early twentieth century’. Spanning one of the most important periods in Irish history, from the Home Rule debates of the 1880s to Ireland on the eve of the Second World War, these somewhat obscure titles provide an insight into a myriad of opinions on Irish life.

Trial access until: 08/01/2023 (so have a look this weekend!) 


SAGE Research Methods: Doing Research Online

This new multimedia collection has been designed to support novice or experienced social science researchers who are conducting research online. Whether conducting their first or their hundredth study online, users will find support to employ a variety of digital methods from online surveys, interviews to digital ethnography, social media, and text analysis, as well as learn how to manage, store and archive digital data. Privacy and other ethical considerations specific to conducting research online are also covered. Researchers will also get support with how to navigate the challenges of being supervised online.

Content & Features:

  • ‘How to Guides’ (providing practical help with using digital research methods);
  • Videos (tutorials, expert interviews, video case studies, etc.);
  • Case studies (focused on challenges of designing and conducting research online);
  • Teaching sets of data with a guide (suggesting a method to analyze both digitally created and existing online data, plus a step-by-step guide to how to do it so that students can practice data analysis);

Trial access until: 26/02/2023.


Archives of Sexuality and Gender: International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture

Archives of Sexuality and Gender: International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture examines diversity in underrepresented areas of the world such as southern Africa and Australia, highlighting cultural and social histories, struggles for rights and freedoms, explorations of sexuality, and organizations and key figures in LGBTQ history. It insures LGBTQ stories and experiences are preserved. Among many diverse and historical 20th century collections, materials include: the Papers of Simon Nkoli, a prominent South African anti-apartheid, gay and lesbian rights, and HIV/AIDS activist; Exit newspaper (formerly Link/Skakel), South Africa’s longest running monthly LGBTQ publication; Geographic Files, also known as “Lesbians in…” with coverage from Albania to Zimbabwe; and the largest available collection of digitized Australian LGBTQ periodicals.

NB The Library has purchased access to three other modules of the Archives of Sexuality and Gender database – these can be found on the A databases page.

Trial access until: 12/07/2023.


We actually have TWELVE trials currently running at the moment. You can find out more on the E-Resources Trials page of the library website, where we have links and descriptions for all items as well as a link to the feedback form (login required).

If there’s a resource you’d like us to get a quote and trial for, please let us know by contacting the relevant librarian for your subject area.

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.