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?

They offer specialist content and focus across a range of disciplines, with coverage that is explicit and comprehensive for the subjects covered. As well as an A – Z listing of what’s on offer, we have also grouped these resources by subject area. We have provided a brief description for each resource, to give you a good idea of their scope and content and to help you decide if it’s for you. However, don’t feel that you need to restrict yourself to those for your subject, as there can often be an overlap between one subject area and another. So, take some time to explore!

Already started your dissertation?

5th Floor Study Area, Main Library.

Don’t worry – it’s not too late to learn how to use of these resources. They present user-friendly interfaces that you should find intuitive as new users, with online help on hand if needed. If your dissertation is some way off, then spend some time now investigating just what’s on offer. It’s never too early to start planning!

And finally, your Academic Support Librarian is there to help. There is one of us for each subject area. So, if you have specific questions or are struggling with things, just get in touch with yours.

And absolutely finally…

Using all of these wonderful resources will probably retrieve more information than you feel you can manage, which is where a reference management system, such as EndNote, comes in. Using one already? Fantastic – you are sorted! If not, then watch this space for a follow-up blog on the subject.

Anne Donnelly was the Academic Support Librarian for Moray House School of Education and Sport and School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences until December 2019.

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