Tips and tricks for longer research projects

The focus of this blogpost is literature searching, specifically for longer research projects such as dissertations, and it is aimed at St George’s students.

Your expert Liaison Librarians are able to support you with every step of the way so don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing liaison@sgul.ac.uk. We are able to advise on how to plan and carry out a complex literature search in a variety of databases. We can also recommend which databases are most suitable for your topic.

You can email us for an individual appointment or come to one of our online drop-ins. Monday to Friday between 12-1pm you can chat to a Liaison Librarian directly. Click on the relevant link on the day you want to drop by.

Here we provide tips and tricks, no matter which stage of the process you are currently at.

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If you are…

…just getting started

Do a scoping search in Hunter. Even if you already use Hunter to locate books and journal articles in our collection, our Hunter video might teach you another thing or two about how to really make the most of its search functions.

If you aren’t familiar with the planning stage of literature searching or you usually skip this bit to get stuck in straight away, now is a good time to change that. When it comes to dissertations and research projects, you need to be much more systematic in your work, including when you formulate your research question. Have a look at our Canvas unit on this topic. It gives you more information and by the end, you will have a research question ready to start searching with.

If you are worried about how to structure your dissertation or academic writing, you can make an appointment with the Academic Success Centre team. Their details are found on the Study+ section in Canvas. We also have a number of books in our collection which can help with academic writing, including how to approach a literature review, dissertation or research paper. They are listed on our Writing for Assessment Wakelet.

If you need specific software to do your research, such as SPSS, have a look at what is available to you through St George’s University and request it here.

And finally, a little tip on how to get started. If you know of a paper which covers the area you are interested in already, have a look at which articles they reference and perhaps you find some relevant papers in their reference list for your project. While this is not a systematic method, it can help you get started and add to your search strategy (e.g. which alternative terms to use).

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…ready for an in-depth literature search

If you are a little overwhelmed by the prospect of doing a complex search in multiple databases (and who can blame you), you need to start by familiarising yourself with how to build a complex search, what alternative terms are and how to include them and how to use advanced search strategies. We have a libguide that takes you through the whole literature searching process. For those of you who are working on a systematic literature review, have a look at our relevant libguide, which highlights what you need to consider to turn your literature review into a systematic literature review. Watch the following videos to find out more about identifying keywords and alternative terms.

We have introductory videos on Ovid (Medline), Ebsco (Cinahl) and Internurse to get you started. Once you have familiarised yourself with the basics, watch our detailed video tutorial on how to search in Ovid/Medline using advanced search techniques.

Have a look at our Databases A-Z list to see which databases are available to you. Your subject guide will tell you which databases are most relevant to your course.

Don’t forget – you can also ask a Liaison Librarian for help by emailing us at liaison@sgul.ac.uk or coming to one of our daily online drop-ins. We can recommend which databases are most suitable for your topic.

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…finishing up and sorting out your references

To cite correctly at St George’s, most of you need to use Harvard Cite Them Right. While we have a number of physical copies of this in the library, you will probably be using the Cite Them Right website (login required). In case you need a refresher on how to navigate Cite Them Right, we also have a detailed walkthrough video on our YouTube channel and in our Referencing Essentials unit in Canvas.

We strongly recommend you don’t use reference generators such as Cite This for Me as we find that generally the references produced by such tools are wrong. You end up spending longer correcting and double-checking your references than you would have done writing them from scratch. If you find the resource in Hunter, you will notice a “citation” option for each record. This has been formatted to match the requirements of Harvard Cite Them Right but it is not always correct. Make sure you compare it to Cite Them Right and correct it if necessary.

For a longer project, we encourage you to use reference management software as it helps you to deduplicate your search results, manage your references and create in-text citations and references. At St George’s, we support RefWorks, which is a web-based software. You need your St George’s login to access it and create an account. To get started, have a look at our RefWorks libguide. Additionally, our detailed video tutorial covers everything from how to get started to how to create references and in-text citations from within Microsoft Word.

We can also help you with your references, so if you are unsure about anything please email liaison@sgul.ac.uk or come to our drop-ins.

Libraries Week 2019: Celebrating Liaison Librarians

Libraries Week takes place between 7th – 12th October 2019. This year’s campaign is focused on celebrating the role of libraries in the digital world. Over the course of the week we’ll be introducing you to different teams within the Library and explore how they use technology to support our community.


To round-off this year’s Libraries Week celebrations we’d like to highlight the work of our Library Liaison team and how they can help you connect with the right digital resources at the right time to grow your learning and, ultimately, improve your grades, practice or research.

Meet the team

For each of our distinct user groups – students, academic staff and researchers and NHS practitioners – you will find dedicated Library Liaison staff, available throughout the year to provide specialist help and support with the Library’s resources, in print as well as online.

Your Liaison Librarians for SGUL students, staff and researchers are:
Zena Ali zali@sgul.ac.uk
Beth Jackson eljackso@sgul.ac.uk

Your Liaison Librarians for Faculty of Health and Social Care students, staff and researchers are:
Anna El-Jouzi aejouz@sgul.ac.uk
Anne Binsfeld abinsfel@sgul.ac.uk

Your Liaison Librarians for NHS staff, researchers and placements students are:
Karen John-Pierre kjohn@sgul.ac.uk
Stephen Reid sreid@sgul.ac.uk

The team provides one-to-one support for staff and students and offers innovative, practical teaching sessions for all on a range of topics such as online literature searching for your assignments or evidence-based practice and managing your references.

How do we support our users?

Finding Information

For each course or trust clinical workforce group, Liaison Librarians have developed online Subject Guides curated by the relevant Librarian. These guides outline the key high quality digital resources (think literature search databases, websites, search engines and evidence-based tools) for your bespoke area and are a great launch pad to start your resource exploration.

Liaison Librarians also design and run curriculum-embedded and open information skills courses to help you use these digital tools efficiently and find the best available evidence. Users can also make an appointment to see one of the team or drop in to our Research Enquiries Desk for advice.

Evaluating Information

In this era of fake news and health scams, how do you know you can rely on the information you find online? Liaison Librarians can empower you with useful frameworks to help you be more discerning when looking for academic information for your assignment. Liaison Librarians also know about the best checklists to use to critically appraise the quality of scientific papers and we’re happy to share this knowledge with you during one of our training courses.

Managing Information

To keep information overload at bay and assist you in keeping track of your references, ask your liaison librarian about tools like RefWorks or Mendeley. These tools allow you to create personalised databases of references which can be integrated into Microsoft Word, saving you time when writing  up assignments or research manuscripts. They can also introduce you to Cite Them Right, the online bible for formatting citations for a whole host of material ranging from academic journal articles to tweets.

Get connected, get creative and learn new skills

If you want to brush up on your searching or referencing skills, there are plenty of opportunities to get face-to-face help from the Liaison team

Visit the Research Enquiries Desk (RED)
When? Monday to Friday 11am – 2pm (subject to change)
Where? Small, quiet study area towards the rear of the Library

Book on to our Information Skills workshops
See the Training pages of the website for course information and our booking form.

Book 1-2-1s or bespoke group training
By emailing liaison@sgul.ac.uk

Library @ IMBE
Zena Ali runs office hours on the 6th floor of Hunter wing and the 2nd floor of Jenner wing. Upcoming dates include:

Hunter:
Thursday 7th November 1pm – 4pm
Tuesday 3rd December 1pm – 4pm

Jenner:
Thursday 17th Oct 1pm – 4pm
Tuesday 19th Nov 10am – 1pm
Thursday 19th Dec 1pm – 4pm

We hope you’ve find this brief introduction into the range of work and support our liaison team carry out informative and inspiring. To find out more, visit our new website  where you will find audience-focused pages that highlight what’s on offer for students, teaching staff, researchers and NHS staff, as well as contact details for your Liaison Librarian.

Applying the Skills: Literature Searching e-learning final module now available

How to Search the Literature Effectively_Banner.

The final module, How to Search the Healthcare Databases, of the seven module How to Search the Literature Effectively programme has now been published. The programme aims to help health and social care professionals develop confidence in searching for and identifying relevant articles in support of work, study and research.

Each modules features a mix of explanatory material, video demonstrations and opportunities to ‘check understanding’ via practice search screens.

Module 1 Introduction to searching
Module 2 Where do I start searching?
Module 3 How do I start to develop a search strategy?
Module 4 Too many results? How to narrow your search
Module 5 Too few results? How to broaden your search
Module 6 Searching with subject headings
Module 7 How to search the Healthcare Databases (HDAS)

See our blog post New NHS e-learning programme on literature searching now available for an overview of the programme.

Module seven pulls together skills learnt from the earlier modules and encourages users to apply that learning when using the Healthcare Databases Advanced Search (HDAS). The module can be completed as a part of the whole programme, or as a standalone module for users already familiar with literature searching but who would like to try searching the Healthcare Databases for the first time or need to refresh their skills.

All modules are freely available and can be accessed without the need to login on the eLearning for Healthcare web site https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/literature-searching/. If you wish to record and save your learning you will need to login via NHS OpenAthens.