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 email@example.com. 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.
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).
…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.
Don’t forget – you can also ask a Liaison Librarian for help by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or coming to one of our daily online drop-ins. We can recommend which databases are most suitable for your topic.
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 email@example.com or come to our drop-ins.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to check our website about our current capacity on our Covid-19 response page.
Even with these resources, it’s easy to make mistakes. The Liaison team regularly meet students with referencing enquiries and over the years have identified a series of common citation and reference list mistakes we see in written assignments. So based on our experiences – and feedback from teaching staff – we’ve compiled for you here (in no particular order) a breakdown of the most common referencing mistakes and some useful advice on how to avoid them!
Read on for the full article, or use the links below to navigate to the sections that most interest you:
(Please note that any links to Cite Them Right online may require your SGUL username and password if you are reading this post off-site, i.e. not connected to eduroam or the SGUL network)
1) Using et al. incorrectly
A common issue we see at the Research Enquiries Desk is the incorrect use of et al. To remind you, this stands for ‘and others‘ and it can be used in both in-text citations and your reference list to indicate a work has multiple authors.
However, it should only be used if the source you are referencing has four or more authors.
If the source has one, two or three authors they must all be named.
The problems we see most often include et al. being used to replace just two or three authors; inconsistent use of et al. between corresponding citations and references and incorrect formatting and punctuation.
Remember: St George’s doesn’t require the naming of all authors in your reference list. You can use et al. in both your in-text citation AND the full reference at the end of your work.
Also:et al. should always be written in italics, with a full-stop at the end. Check over your work to ensure you have done this consistently throughout your writing.
2) Numbering reference lists…
The Harvard style of referencing is all about the author of a publication and the date it was published. It’s these pieces of information that dictate the order that your references appear at the end of your work: you should list them in alphabetical order, by the author’s surname:
Cottrell, S. (2019) The study skills handbook. 5th edn. London: Red Globe Press.
Dimond, B. (2013) Legal aspects of midwifery. 4th edn. London: Quay Books.
We regularly see students who have unnecessarily numbered their references in an otherwise exemplary alphabetical list, or have listed their references in the order they appeared in the body of their work.
How can you avoid it?
This is an easy one – just don’t number them! In all seriousness though, it is always a good idea to double check that your references are in alphabetical order. The sample reference list in CTR can give you an idea of what a complete reference list might look like. The troubleshooting page provides additional guidance on what to do when you have multiple works by the same authors, or authors with similar names and initials.
3) …and using numbers as in-text citations
Similarly, we also regularly see people mixing up different referencing styles in their work. For example, the Vancouver style uses numbers as in-text citations which correspond to a numbered reference list.
This is incorrect: Harvard is an Author-Date style of referencing which requires both of these pieces of information within your in-text citation.
As we mentioned above, Harvard is an Author-Date style of referencing, so your citation should contain, funnily enough, the author’s surname(s) and the year of publication: e.g. (Williams, 2017)
However, we regularly see people also including the author’s first name(s) or initials within their citations: e.g. (Williams, R., 2018). This isn’t required in Harvard. You do, however, need to include initials within the full reference in your reference list.
How can you avoid it?
It’s as simple as following the guidance in Cite Them Right, either in an individual resource page or in the Setting out Citations section.
5) Forgetting to include page numbers in citations
We’ve often found that there is some confusion over where and when to include page numbers within in-text citations. This is what Cite Them Right has to say on the matter:
If you are quoting directly or using ideas from a specific page or pages of a work, you should include the page number(s) in your citations. Insert the abbreviation p. (or pp.) before the page number(s).
When it comes to your reference list, you only need to include page numbers for chapters in edited books and journal/magazine/newspaper articles. The Elements that you may need to include in your references page discusses the various types of bibliographic information required for effective referencing in more detail.
How can you avoid it?
You might be sensing a theme if you’ve read this far – follow the guidance in Cite Them Right! As linked above, the Setting our Citations page will be most helpful here, but we’d argue that it’s just as important to be thorough and methodical in recording the bibliographic details of the sources you are using in your work. Whether it’s in a notebook, a tool like OneNote or Evernote or a Word document on your device, keeping track of these important details will help you produce more accurate citations and references.
6) Using footnotes
In another example of mixing up referencing styles, we’ve seen plenty of examples of written assignments that use footnotes to display references or expand on a point in the text. Unfortunately, footnotes are not used in Harvard (or other Author-Date styles of referencing) so you should avoid using them in your written work.
How can you avoid it?
You should ensure that all of your citations appear in the body of your written work and that your references are listed in alphabetical order on a separate page at the end of your assignment. If you are having trouble succinctly paraphrasing or synthesizing information in your work, have a chat with the Academic Success Centre advisors who can help you develop your academic writing.
7) Using ibid. or op. cit.
In another example of mixing up referencing styles, it’s fairly common for us to see the terms ibid. (referring to an immediately preceding cited work) or op. cit. (referring to previously cited work) in place of the correct author-date style of in-text citation. These terms are broadly used to save on space (or your precious word count!) but as with footnotes, neither of these terms are used within Harvard (Cite Them Right) referencing so you should avoid using them in your written work.
How can you avoid it?
If you aren’t sure about how to set out your in-text citations, or have a question that the Setting out Citations page can’t solve, just ask your Liaison Librarians for advice. Email us at email@example.com or drop by and see us at the Research Enquiries Desk (open Mon-Fri 11am – 2pm) where we’d be happy to help. The Academic Success Centre can also advise on the flow of your writing.
8) Missing/incorrect dates
We’ve mentioned this a couple of times already, but with Harvard being an Author-Date style of referencing, you need to include a date! This is usually the year of publication, but what do you do if you can’t find one? Cite Them Right advises you to simply write no date in full in both your citation and reference: e.g. (Cancer Research UK, no date).
Websites are probably the most common references we see that are missing their vital bibliographic details. If you find that lots of your sources are missing dates, ask yourself if you might be able to find a better, more reliable source for your work. eBooks are just as good, if not better than, websites for background information and have the benefit of including all the necessary bibliographic information at the beginning of the book.
The key to successfully referencing a chapter in an edited book is to ensure you are recording both the author(s) and title of the chapter you have read as well as the editor(s) and title of the book as a whole. A common mistake we see usually involves including only one of the other.
You also need to remember that in your in-text citation you should include the author of the chapter and the date, not the editors of the book.
Arguably the trickiest – and most tiresome – thing about any kind of referencing is ensuring your references are formatted correctly, with all the necessary punctuation in the right places. If you’ve got an errant full-stop, or a missing comma, you are likely to be marked down.
How do I make sure my formatting is correct?
Attention to detail is key: following the exact layout of the examples provided in Cite Them Right – whatever the source – will help you achieve referencing perfection.
Giving yourself time is also important! Leaving referencing to the very last minute often means forsaking accuracy in an effort to turn your assignments in by the deadline. Marks for correct referencing are easy to earn and easy to lose, so give yourself the best chance and try to reference as you go and keep track of the bibliographic information of your sources too.
A quick word on referencing generators
Another barrier to successful referencing is the use of online, automatic reference generators. We don’t recommend that you use them, although we realise they can be tempting. It’s worth bearing in mind that the references they produce are only as good as the data you feed in – so if anything is missing, you’ll get incomplete, inaccurate results. Even with ‘official’ referencing management software like RefWorks, we always caution that you should check your work before you submit it.
This is something we see a lot at the Research Enquiries Desk (RED) and while it can feel like these generators save you time, unpicking the errors and formatting of these references usually requires more effort than it would have taken to write the reference using the support in Cite Them Right.
If you’re in doubt, come and chat with us at the RED – as ever, we’re always happy to help.
We know that was a bit of a long read, but we hope it was worthwhile. If you are an SGUL student, please feel free to share this with your peers and help them avoid these common pitfalls!
Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2019) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 11th edn. London: Red Globe Press.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cite Them Right is the book and website used by St George’s to guide you in how to reference correctly. The 11th edition of Cite them Right (2019) has now been published and will be used by St George’s from September 2019.
The great news is that there are no major changes, so if you currently have the 10th edition (2016) out on loan you can keep using it until you get the chance to return it.
From September onwards you should use the 11th edition if you need guidance on how to reference. Copies are now available on the Library shelves and you can search for the new edition in Hunter. Copies of the previous 10th edition will be removed from circulation as and when they are returned.
The full reference for the new edition is as follows:
Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2019) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 11th edn. London: Red Globe Press
As ever, if you have any questions about referencing, you can email the Liaison Team for support on firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by the Research Enquiries Desk between 11am and 2pm Monday to Friday to speak to a member of staff in person.
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.
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.
New for 2016 the Library is launching a series of monthly promotions – Library Loves. Featuring different resources and events, Library Loves will support your learning, teaching, research and practice by helping you get the most out of the Library and our resources, and we hope at the times when most needed. So with out further ado, it’s the start of the year, it’s the start of Library Loves and we are looking at Library StART…
With deadlines fast approaching in January, some of these questions may be looming large:
How do I answer my essay question – what information do I need to do it?
How do I find and get that information?
Can I reference Wikipedia? How do I know I’ve got ‘the good stuff’?
What is Harvard Style, how can I make sure I’m getting it right?
Library StART (St George’s Assignment Research Toolkit) has been designed to help you navigate all these questions and more, with specific reference to how you can use resources available via the Library here at St George’s to support your assignments.
You can either work through the whole tutorial for a complete overview of how to find good quality information to support you assignment, or dip in to the section where you are stuck – the main sections are:
Identify – do you need background information or something more specific, what sort of resource can you use to find it
Find – step by step help and video guides on how to find and access resources via St George’s Library from books to journal articles using Hunter.
Evaluate – how to assess the quality of the resource you have found, and judge whether they are suitable for use in your assignment
Reference – how to acknowledge information sources in your assignments, and avoid plagiarism
Library StART is freely available online, and if you can’t find what you are looking for check the Need more help? section.