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Introduction to online resources for research

In this video Holly Singleton introduces some of the basic techniques when beginning a literature search.
Hi, my name’s Holly. I’m the subject librarian for Disaster Management and Emergency Planning. The main part of my job is that I help students with the research process and how to find information more efficiently. It’s really important to ensure that you plan your search. This can really help with the overall organisation of your research and really with the bigger picture of what you’re trying to find. It also really helps with identifying the keywords of your topic as this will really help with finding information more quickly and more efficiently. So, what are keywords? Keywords are the main words or phrases that describe the information that you’re looking for. So, they don’t include any filler words such as ‘the’, ‘what’, ‘investigates’ etc.
As an example, we have a topic here ‘A study of how resilience to flooding has been developed since 2007: the case for Sheffield’. So, we’re going to look at what the keywords are in that particular example. We would be looking at ‘resilience’, ‘flooding’, ‘Sheffield’, ‘2007’. Once you’ve identified your keywords it’s a really good idea to think of alternative terms or synonyms. This will help you widen your search and it will return more results and also pick up things that you might have otherwise missed.
So, in our example we’ve got ‘resilience’ but we could also use ‘flood defences’ or ‘flood risk management’ as these mean the same thing as flood resilience but they will just pick up other information that we might have otherwise not picked up. Other ways you can refine and alter your search are things like phrase searching. So, this is when you use double quotation marks around a phrase. So, for example we’ve used it here in ‘natural disaster’. If you don’t put quotation marks around natural disaster what your search engine or your journal article database will do is it will search for those two words separately.
So, it will find you information on natural and disaster which as you can probably imagine will bring you back lots more results, which is good, but a lot of those results will be irrelevant to what you’re actually looking for. This technique works in lots of different places including Google. So, do use it because it does make a difference to the types of results that you’ll get. You can also think about things like alternative spellings.
So, for example here we’ve got organisation spelled in British English or UK English with an S, but we also have the American spelling with a Z and this kind of thing, you’ll be surprised, can also make a really big difference to the kinds of results that you get when you’re searching for information. You can also use another technique called wildcard searching and this is adding an asterisk to the root of the word and it will pick up all of the plural endings. Here we’ve got ‘flood’ with an asterisk. So, this will pick up ‘floods’, ‘flooding’ and ‘flooded’.
In this video, Holly Singleton, a Coventry University librarian, discusses how to carry out a library search for subject specific material. She covers:
  • How to tailor your search to your interested topic area and save time
  • How to find good library resources by developing good keyword search techniques

Your task

Think about your research question. Based on the information given by Holly, use the online resources discussed to find your first piece of literature.
Share what you find with your fellow learners.
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Researching Risk, Disasters and Emergencies

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