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 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 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 or come to our drop-ins.

Easter Holiday Library Update

The Easter holidays are just around the corner, but whether you’re planning to spend the next few weeks close to St George’s or a little further afield, we hope that our online services and support will make you feel that help with your studies is never too far away. Below we’ve put together some quick reminders of just some of the help and resources you can access no matter where you are.

Online books and articles

Our search tool, Hunter, is the best starting point for discovering e-books and journal articles that you can access from anywhere using your St George’s login and password.

  • to find articles, select Articles and more from the dropdown menu
  • to find e-books, select Books and more from the dropdown menu. Then use the filter options to limit your results to Online Resources.

E-learning tools

Your St George’s login also gives you access to our collection of online learning tools, many of them using video, quizzes and other interactive features to help you master topics. Try out some of our new and popular resources from the links below, or view a full list here.

  • *New* Complete Anatomy – a powerful 3D anatomy platform that also features lectures, quizzes and more. Install the app from the app store on your device, then use our activation code to set up your free account.
  • LWW Health Library – a large, searchable collection of key texts, videos, cases and self-assessment questions. We have access to all content in the Medical Education and Occupational Therapy collections.
  • BMJ Learning – hundreds of accredited and peer-reviewed learning modules.
  • JoVE Science Education – video tutorials in biology, chemistry and clinical skills.
Complete Anatomy is our newest online learning tool. Find instructions to install it on your device here.

Having trouble logging in to view an e-book, article or online resource? Our PDF guide or short video on offsite access may be able to help. Otherwise, email us at and we’ll try to resolve the issue.

Help with writing assignments and referencing

We have a large collection of books that can help with planning and writing assignments, both on the shelves and as e-books – this search in Hunter brings together lots of these titles. (Use the Online Resources filter on the left to show just e-books that you can access straight away). Our Writing for Assessment collection brings together resources on academic writing, study skills and dissertations and much more.

For a refresher on referencing, have a look at the Referencing Essentials unit in the Library Module on Canvas (login required). This includes a helpful guide to using Cite Them Right, the book and website that show you how to reference in the style used at St George’s. You can access the online version of Cite Them Right here.

If you’re working on a longer project or dissertation, you might be thinking about using a reference management tool to help organise your sources. St George’s supports RefWorks, and you can learn more about this web-based software and how use it in our blog post, RefWorks LibGuide or series of RefWorks videos.

Don’t forget your Liaison Librarians can answer any research or referencing enquiries you might have. Get in touch by emailing or coming to one of our daily online drop-ins.

Easter weekend opening hours

Over the long Easter weekend from 2nd April to 5th April, the library and computer rooms will be open 9am to 9pm. There will be self-service only with security staff on hand. The helpdesk will not be staffed during this time. We will reopen on 6th April at 8 am.
After Easter, we resume normal opening hours, 8am to 11pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm Saturday and Sunday. The helpdesk will be staffed 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. Should you have any questions about opening hours or our service, please email Don’t forget to check our website about our current capacity on our Covid-19 response page.

Student Recommended: a Guide to Mendeley


Hafssa Anfishi, one of St George’s Learning Advocates has reviewed Mendeley, a free resource which can help you with referencing. Hafssa is in her second year of the Biomedical Science course and found Mendeley useful when completing her SSP. Select the link below to read her step-by-step guide on how to use this tool.

How to use Mendeley. A step-by-step guide by Hafssa Anfishi

A note from the library

There are many tools out there which can help you with referencing and citations. However, you should be careful that they are referencing according to the standard required by your course. Don’t forget that this is something that you will be assessed on. You are always responsible for double-checking your references to ensure that they are correct.

St George’s Library provides access to a tool called RefWorks which can also help with referencing and reference management. We can offer training and support in using this resource as well as general referencing support. For more information, consult the help page of the library website or contact the library.

Freely available reference management tools – some pros and cons

Citing and referencing correctly in most cases is not difficult – it just requires a bit of careful attention to detail, which can be time consuming and when your deadline is looming time is not always on your side. This is where using a reference management tool can help, enabling you to generate correctly formatted bibliographies (reference lists) in a quick and intuitive way. Here is a brief overview of a couple that are freely available online.

The tools
Cite this for me – available at:
RefMe – available at:

What they do:
These tools provide templates for a range of resource types (for example: books, journal articles, websites and many more), which you can use to either automatically import or manually input the details of the resources that you want to cite and reference in your assignment. When you have added all the resources you are using in your assignment you can generate a correctly formatted bibliography simply by choosing the referencing style you require, for example: Harvard – Cite Them Right, from the style menu. You can then copy and paste or export the bibliography to a Word document. These tools also show you how your in-text citations should look in your chosen referencing style, and allow you to copy and paste these into your assignment too.

The Pros and Cons
Cite this for me
cite this for me logoPros
+ Very intuitive layout with clearly labelled functions so getting started is quick and easy.
+ No need to register for an account – your bibliography remains available for 7 days from when you first create it as long as you use the same computer and internet browser.
+ You can share your bibliography with a group if you are collaborating on a project.
– The ‘Autocite’ feature available for books, journal articles and websites will sometimes miss key details needed to correctly reference sources imported this way, for this reason it is best to always choose the ‘Add manually’ option when adding your references.
– To access full functionality requires an account, which you would need to pay for.
– Without an account you can only create one bibliography at a time.

RefME logoPros
+ You can work on multiple projects at once, and copy/move references between different projects.
+ You can access your projects from anywhere that you can log-in to your account.
+ You can share your bibliography with a group if you are collaborating on a project.
– The automatic import function is fairly reliable, however, you should always check that the required details are all present and correct, and manually edit the reference if necessary. Be particularly careful with websites and books.
– You can’t use RefMe without registering for an account, but accounts are free and quick to set up.
– The interface is quite minimal, so you will need to spend a little time exploring where different functions are, but there are on-screen tips to help when you are getting started and once you know your way around it is easy to use.

Both these tools have the potential to save you time when it comes to completing the citing and referencing in your assignments, leaving you more time to focus on writing your assignment. The University also subscribes to a reference management tool called RefWorks, on and offsite access requires a SGUL username and password. RefWorks is not as intuitive as these online tools but does offer additional functions that are particularly useful if you are undertaking longer pieces of written work. Links to all these resources are now provided on the Library’s Reference Management page.

*Top tip! Before you submit your work, always check your citations and references are correctly formatted according to the standards used at St George’s – guides and helpsheets are available on the Library’s Help pages. *

Computer Rooms 3 and H 1.9 upgrade – from March 30th

From 30th March, the computers in Computer Room 3 and H 1.9 (next to the Library), will be replaced with new machines, The standard suite of software applications will be installed, including Microsoft Office 2013 and the latest version of the RefWorks utility, Write-N-Cite 4.

For further details of these applications, please see below.

Office 2013

Office 2013 Quick Start Guides – on slideshare Quick start guides on Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for users new to Office 2013.
Adapted from: Microsoft Quick Start Guides for Office 2013


Write-N-Cite 4 for RefWorks

Write-N-Cite 4 is the latest version of this utility which runs within Word and allows you to insert citations into your document from your RefWorks database, generate a bibliography and format using a referencing style.  The previous version, Write n Cite III, is not compatible with Word 2013. (Note that Write-N-Cite 4 is compatible with Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013.)

Logging in to Write-N-Cite 4

  • Open Word 2013
  • Select ProQuest menu
  • In the ProQuest /  RefWorks  ‘ribbon’ at the top of the screen , Click Log in – you will see the popup  window below:


  • Make sure that RefWorks is selected (as shown above – grey shading)

You now need to copy & paste Write-N-Cite 4  Login code from RefWorks to Login Code field as follows:




  • Copy this Login code
  • Return to Word and paste the Login code into the Login Code field
  • Click Login

Once you are logged in – the ProQuest menu name changes to RefWorks, and in the ‘ribbon’ at the top of the screen, you will see the message ‘syncing data’. Write-N-Cite is downloading your RefWorks database of references to your Desktop.  The features are inactive until the syncing has finished. This syncing shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.

Help for using Write-N-Cite 4

Using St George’s Harvard referencing style

To select this style (based on “Cite them Right” Pears & Shields, 9th ed., published 2013):

  • In the RefWorks ribbon, click on the Style box drop down arrow
  • Click Select Other style
  • Select Harvard – FHSCE & SGUL

Moving between Write-N-Cite III & Write-N-Cite 4

  • It is possible to edit Word documents created with Write-N-Cite III in Write-N-Cite 4. You will be prompted to convert the document on opening in Word when using Write-N-Cite 4
  • It is also possible to edit Word documents created with Write-N-Cite 4 in Write-N-Cite III.

Using One-Line / Cite View to insert citations etc
If you are not able to use Write-N-Cite on your machine, you can use an alternative RefWorks feature, One Line / Cite View, which will also create citations in your paper and create bibliographies. More information here:

New RefWorks release

The January release of RefWorks is now available to all users. The release includes a number of enhancements and new features:
–    You can now drag and drop references between folders and the tasks that feature in the Quick Access menu, such as creating a bibliography and printing references
–    You can now share folders via social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter
–    The Import Results page now includes Duplicate Checking Options – allowing you to identify and delete duplicates right away, saving you time and effort later

For more information about using RefWorks to manage your references while you are at SGUL please see our Library Help Sheet: RefWorks 2.0
For a more detailed guide to RefWorks please visit the RefWorks 2.0 online help

Reminder for RefWorks users

To RefWorks users still using the RefWorks Classic interface.

After the 29th October, RefWorks2.0 will become the default interface for all users.  If you wish to use the Classic interface, you can switch back after logging in, but please not that RefWorks Classic will only be available until December.

Your references will be unaffected.

For more details, see post on the 17th October.

Update on new RefWorks interface

29th October 2011 – all RefWorks accounts will automatically switch to the new interface: RefWorks 2.0.

All users have had the option to switch since May 2011, but from 29th anyone still using the classic interface will now see RefWorks 2.0 as default when they login.

If you prefer, you can still choose to view your database in the classic interface by using the toggle option in the top right corner, but remember that this option will be turned off at the end of the year and from January 2012 you will only be able to use 2.0.

RefWorks 2.0 has all the same functionality as RefWorks “classic” but with an improved layout and navigation, making it easy to discover its features.  There are now buttons and quick links for common tasks, but all tasks are still available through the menus. This change has no effect on your references.

There are also some new features:

  • Subfolders—for creating folders within folders that keep information organized and easy to share.
  • Folder de-duplication—for de-duping within a single folder to remove multiple occurrences of a reference.
  • Limiting fields in shared items—for sharing only the desired references and information with colleagues. Account owners will be able to choose which fields to show for each share.
  • Combined Folders and Sharing page—for improved display on one screen. Easier to manage folders and decide which ones to share.
  • Keyboard navigation of interface items—for compatibility with Assistive Technologies

Want to know more about RefWorks 2.0?

For online video showing you how to navigate the new RefWorks interface, click here.  To see the new training guide for RefWorks 2.0 go to the Library Website > How to…Guide > Help Sheets > RefWorks 2.0 [PDF]

RefWorks – training webinars / materials available

RefWorks is a web-based reference management tool subscribed to by the University and free to University staff and students.

The RefWorks website provides a range of free training materials, including details of their webinars which cover both essential and advanced features, and other guides eg how to modify an output style (ie the reference formatting used in a document) and using Write-n-Cite (how to insert references into a dcoument).

The Library also provides one hour training sessions, and has a training workbook which covers the main features, available from the Library website or from the Library.