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.

Introducing…New RefWorks!

You might be about to embark on a research project, perhaps a dissertation, a case study or longer assignment which requires you to collect, store, manage and use a large amount of references. Or you might be a second-year student realising that as you are progressing through your degree you are expected to use more references. If you are, there is no need to panic as there are some handy tools available to help you manage all this information.


Proquest RefWorks logo

There are many different types of reference management software, each with its own special features. In practice, whichever tool you use, it can substantially increase the speed and efficiency with which you manage your references.

Here at SGUL, we support RefWorks, which is perfectly suited to those preparing longer pieces of academic writing. This term we have moved away from using Legacy RefWorks to (new) Refworks!  RefWorks is freely available to all SGUL students and staff. We also provide training to people who want to learn how to use RefWorks effectively and efficiently. There is a lot of online support available too, like our recently updated Libguide.

What is RefWorks?

RefWorks is one of the most popular reference management applications and it allows users to:

  • collect references – no need to type details in manually
  • store references
  • organise references
  • link to full text, web pages and documents
  • cite your references and create bibliographies in different styles

How does it work?

Unlike other reference management tools, RefWorks is a web-based software, so no need to download anything!

Go to http://refworks.proquest.com and click on “Use login from my institution”. Then, under Shibboleth find or search for “St George’s, University of London”. All you need is your SGUL username and password to log in.

Use login from my institution

The first time you do this you have to fill in some information about yourself and then you’re all set to start collecting references.

There are multiple ways to populate your RefWorks account with reference data. Depending on the search tool or database(s) you are using, there are different ways to add references:

  • Direct export from a database
  • Downloading and importing a text file from a database
  • Drag and drop PDFs into RefWorks
  • Adding references manually
  • Use the ‘Save to RefWorks’ browser extension

For more information on how each of these options work, have a look at our RefWorks Libguide.

Be sure to always check if the information that was added is correct and complete! As you start adding more references, you will want to organise them so that they stay manageable. You can for example assign references to different folders and subfolders. You can also deduplicate them, if you are in the habit of adding big batches of references in one go.

Top tips

  • Quality check your references by looking at citation view, that way you can see what details are missing. Make sure to select Harvard – SGUL & FHSCE and save this as the default setting to ensure that you are using the right citation style. It is a good idea to double-check your reference in citation view immediately after adding it, so you can compare it to the original document without having to retrieve it.
Citation View
  • Refworks can generate an in-text citation in the correct style for you and it can create a bibliography too. Just click on the “Create Bibliography” icon at the top of the page. Follow the guidance on the screen and copy/paste what you need, done!
  • Much easier and more effective is using Write-N-Cite which is a small separate programme you can download which connects your Refworks account to Word. An equivalent is available for Word on Mac devices as well. On SGUL computers, this programme is built into Word so no need to download anything!

Legacy RefWorks vs (New) RefWorks

The new RefWorks is intuitive to use and has better functionality than Legacy RefWorks. However, if you have used RefWorks before, you will have created a Legacy RefWorks account. If you are interested in migrating your references from the old to the new version, please be aware that it is currently not possible to edit documents in new RefWorks if they have previously been used in Legacy RefWorks.

We recommend that you continue to use your Legacy account until you have finished the projects you are currently working on. More information on migrating from Legacy RefWorks can be found here.

Referencing styles at St George’s

Screen capture of Cite Them Right website

We have also updated our guidelines around using the Harvard referencing style, which is the referencing style used across St George’s, in line with the recent new edition of Cite Them Right (2019). Although the new edition doesn’t contain big changes, it includes a lot more examples, including of a NICE guideline and a systematic review published on the Cochrane Library. For more information, have a look at our user help sheet for Harvard.

If your lecturer requires you to use the Vancouver style, you can have a look at this help sheet. Vancouver at SGUL is based on Citing medicine: The NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers (2007) by Patrias.

Further help

Make sure to have a look at our Libguide on RefWorks and Reference Management and check out RefWorks’ own YouTube tutorials.

Many of you will receive RefWorks training as part of your degree, but if you want to get ahead or missed out on training, get in touch by emailing liaison@sgul.ac.uk to book a session with us in which we cover the basics of using RefWorks.


For general research and referencing questions, be sure to make use of the Research Enquiries Desk (RED) located in the Library and staffed every weekday from 11 am to 2 pm.

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.

September Update

Whether you’re back in Tooting or still a little further afield, the Library has a range of help and resources that you can connect to from (almost) anywhere, helping you get a headstart on your studies for the new semester.

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Access online resources with your SGUL login

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Use the new-look Hunter to search for e-books and online journal articles that you can access from anywhere with an internet connection.

  • To find e-books, drop down to ‘Books and more’ before you search, then use the filter options to narrow your results to Online Resources.

E-book search

  • Search in ‘Articles and more’ to find online journal articles and similar material.

To open the full e-book or article, follow the links under ‘View Online’ and enter your SGUL login and password. You can find more help in our PDF guide to accessing e-resources from offsite.

For more advice about finding resources in Hunter, see the Hunter FAQs.


More online resources, including Acland’s Video Atlas of Human Anatomy, BMJ Best Practice and DynaMed Plus, can be found in the Databases A-Z.

  • Find a resource in the A-Z list then follow the link for offsite access
  • Enter your SGUL login and password to access

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Find more information about online resources and apps in the Useful Apps section of our Library Essentials LibGuide.

Forgotten/Expired password?

Use this link to reset it from offsite.

Note: you must have already set up an external email address and if you don’t receive a reset email, check your junk mail folder.


Contact the Library for help

The Library remains open 7 days a week, with 24 hour opening returning from Monday 17th September.

The Library Helpdesk is staffed as usual from 8am to 6pm every weekday. Call in and see us, or phone us on 020 8725 5466.

Helpdesk iconRED icon

The Research Enquiries Desk can help with more in-depth queries about finding resources, referencing and more. Drop in or phone 020 8725 5514 during the RED’s staffed hours (see below).

Alternatively, email a query to liaison@sgul.ac.uk and a liaison librarian will get back to you.

Summer From Sep 17th
Library Opening Hours Mon to Fri: 8am – 11pm

Sat and Sun: 9am – 9pm

24 hours

Library Helpdesk staffed Mon to Fri: 8am – 6pm Mon to Fri: 8am – 6pm
Research Enquiries Desk staffed Mon to Fri: 12pm – 2pm* Mon to Fri: 11am – 2pm* from Sep 11th

*subject to change

Find more information about these and other services – including support with IT and academic writing – in the Getting help section of our Library Essentials LibGuide.

Research Enquiries Office – closed during August 2012

 

Due to the Library refurbishment, the Research Enquiries Office will be closed throughout August.

Research Enquiries help is still available – to book a session please visit the Library Helpdesk or email liblearn@sgul.ac.uk and your Liaison Librarian will be in touch.

Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.