Ask the librarian

Continuing from May’s Ask the Librarian blog that discussed how to find the right content online, lets next discuss what you should do once you have completed your first search for research.

My advice is to continue to review and revise your search plan, record and evaluate your results until you are happy with the materials you have found.

It is a good idea to start the literature search process early in your project, and then re-run your searches as the project progresses to update yourself on any newly published material.

How to review your search plan?

Finding too much

Sometimes you will find that there is just too much information. This might be because:

  • A lot has been written on your main topic
  • Your topic has links with many other subject areas

Return to your research question and re-focusing can solve this problem by giving you a clearer idea of what you really want to find out.  If your research question is already explicit, you may need to revise your search plan. Things to try including:

  • Use more precise keyword terms
  • Concentrate on key authors and books
  • Using database features like advanced search, or subject headings

Finding too little

Sometimes you will struggle to find much relevant material. You will need to think of ways of broadening the scope of your project. You can think about:

  • Making the topic (or just your keywords) more general.
  • Searching for related information, e.g. looking at all artists/designers in an era, rather than a particular one.

Your tutor is a good source of advice: they can often tell you if a topic is very new, or little-studied, and they may be able to suggest related areas of research to investigate.

Finding materials which are not ‘academic’ enough

Your tutor may have told you that you need to make your work more academic. This just means you need to be more selective in your choice of sources. Two helpful ways of accessing scholarly material are:

  1. When searching the library catalogue, limit your search to scholarly or peer-reviewed journal search options and make sure you are using academic rather than trade journals.
  2.  Limit your Internet search to sites which end in .ac or .edu.

(City University of Hong Kong, 2019)

(Following this hyperlink will lead you to a third-party website, the contents of which OCA has no control over and for which no liability is taken)

In the meantime, if you need additional help sourcing research, feel free to contact me directly (email: library@oca.ac.uk)

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

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