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24 July 2014
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Top tips for research skills
Using books and journals
Photo of library, lot's of books
















Librarians say that most students start their research by using the Internet.

This is understandable — it gives you the feeling that you’re in control, for a bit, anyway. The tip here is to realise that basic information can often be quicker and easier to find in a book and encyclopaedia.

Librarians say that students often ask for information, and then say they’re not sure what they want.

Be really sure that you understand the question you’re answering. If you find it difficult to explain it to someone else, then go back to your tutor and check your understanding. You have a better chance of good grades if you feel confident that you understand what’s expected of you.

Librarians say that if the title of the book doesn’t appear to relate exactly to a student’s research question, then the book isn’t thought relevant.

If you’re feeling stressed, this is understandable - you want good sources, quickly. The tip here is to look through the index — a small amount of information can be as useful as a large amount.

Librarians say that when tutors recommended a particular journal or other source, then students use it.

Check whether your tutor is able to recommend particular journals. Check whether there is a reading list for the subject you’re dealing with.

Librarians say that when students are unsure how the library cataloguing system works, they are less likely to use books as a source.

Even if you’ve been shown how to use the catalogue, it’s easy to forget. Do ask for advice and help — it feels good when you know how.

Librarians say that students don’t always note down the details of the books or journals that they’ve used. They also report that many students don’t know why they need a bibliography.

Have you ever experienced the hassle of not having the information to complete your bibliography? Develop a routine of writing down the author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication and page numbers for articles from magazines, newspapers, encyclopaedias or in anthologies. That way you’ll build a thorough bibliography as you go along.

Click ’next’ to look at using the Internet.


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