Literature Searching Essentials
The following brief web tutorials are intended to acquaint you with tools and strategies for conducting and managing literature searches as a UNB scholar. Feel free to proceed sequentially or dive in where the need presents itself. Below we will cover:
- UNB Libraries Website
- UNB Worldcat for searching for books
- Article searching with ERIC and other EBSCO-based resources
- Searching for theses and dissertations with ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database
- Google Scholar for finding articles and searching through "grey literature"
- Zotero for citation management
1. The UNB Libraries Website
2. UNB WorldCat for book searching
Does anybody even read books anymore? Well at the very least they skim them or else read them selectively - and often to great effect. While journal articles might be considered the primary unit of scholarly communication, books situate the highly specific info typical of research articles - say the mathematical achievement of 11 year old boys at an Anglican schools in Trinidad on the Secondary Entry Exam - in broader contexts - like the history and legacy of standardized testing in the Caribbean or comparing boys vs girls scores across all school types or different regions – the sort of contexts, in other words, that define academic and even societal discourses whatever the subject, period, or place.
But it’s not really my job to convince you of a book’s worth, only to show you how to find the ones you’re after.
More on retrieving research materials and document delivery: https://youtu.be/Ta9qicg1e10
More on eBooks at UNB Libraries: https://youtu.be/pNpW9mMRu-Y
3. Article Searching
When I was a youngster, the first floor of the Harriet Irving Library was nothing but big bound volumes of indexes and abstracts, floor to ceiling far as the eye could see, blotting out the sun. These were the ancestors of the article and research databases of today – oh and coffee back then? Forget about it! Get you thrown out on your head. My, how the times have changed. What hasn’t changed are many of the names we now associate with easy online access: ERIC, CINAHL, Dissertations and Theses, and many, many more have been around a long time, only now they’re joined by younger siblings like Academic Search Premier and Canadian Business and Current Affairs in a vast digital universe the access to which sometimes leaves you breathless.
So sit back, loosen up, and enjoy this double feature of ERIC and Dissertations & Theses, two titans in the realm of research literature, each available from UNB Libraries on a respectively popular platform - and learn how you make their power...your own.
ERIC on the EBSCO Platform
For those of you interested in learning more about how to break down a research question into its logical parts and put it back together in a manner that works well in ERIC on the EBSCO platform, have a look at the following document: SearchStrategiesForClassroomDesign_0.pdf
4. Dissertations and Theses on the ProQuest Platform
5. Google Scholar – the what, the why, the when, and then: the how
What – It's a treasure trove of research articles and so-called grey literature: technical and government sponsored reports, white papers, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations - and more.
Why – it’s easy to use and you don’t have to worry about mastering database- or discipline- specific controlled vocabularies - though they’re hardly a liability, just not everyone’s idea of time well spent - while leaving the sophistication of the searching up to Google Scholar leads to a lot of false positives - we’re talking...millions - the cream, if there is any, often mysteriously rises to the top...
And as you gain practice you get better at making the searching work for you. Another plus: a lot of international research, often housed in institutional repositories – like UNB Scholar here, or UWISpace in the Caribbean, not to mention the aforementioned grey literature - isn’t found in the subscription databases. And then there are some great features like tracing the influence of a piece of research into the future – from when it was published – not like the future future – though with Google I wouldn’t put it past them. Maybe in a future future upgrade.
The When – Whenever – start here or go directly to subscription databases, but ideally you will use them in tandem since there is bound to be areas where coverage doesn’t overlap – and you’re a serious scholar now.
And now, the How. These next two videos impart indispensable tips and tricks for using Google Scholar as a UNB student and, while they won’t constitute the most dynamic seven minutes of your life, they will more than pay for themselves in time saved and research accrued moving forward.
5 a. Google Scholar I
How to set up authentication or linking to UNB Libraries' full text journal and ebook subscriptions from within Google Scholar
5 b. Google Scholar II
The ins and outs of GS searching
6. Zotero for citation management
A software program that collects, manages, and cites research sources, Zotero is easy to use, works with your web browser where you do your work, and best of all it's free. With one click, Zotero will save web pages, books, PDFs, abstracts, and almost anything else with all its citation information. Learn more here:
Research Booster I
- UNB Scholar Profiles
- Google Scholar + Zotero
- ETD Formatting basics
Lay a firm foundation for your research and publishing activities with this action-packed 45 minute introduction to useful practices, products, and people.
With Marc Bragdon, Mike Nason, and Rob Glencross.