Finding empirical and methodological research articles

When it comes to research methods or research methodologies, there can be a lot of unfamiliar terms and concepts to get to grips with. One question we’re often asked by masters business students is how to find empirical and methodological research articles. It’s a good question as it can be quite tricky to locate articles on these topics, so here’s some advice on how you can go about searching for them in Library Search and the databases that we subscribe to.

Book shelves with hanging light bulbs
Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

What is the difference between empirical and methodological research?

Let’s start by defining our key terms, so we know what to look out for:

Empirical research

Empirical research is based on observed and measured phenomena and derives knowledge from actual experience rather than from theory or belief.

How do you know if a study is empirical? Read the subheadings within the article, book, or report and look for a description of the research methodology. Ask yourself: Could I recreate this study and test these results?

Key characteristics to look for:

  • Specific research questions to be answered
  • Definition of the population, behaviour, or phenomena being studied
  • Description of the process used to study this population or phenomena, including selection criteria, controls, and testing instruments (such as surveys)

Another hint: some scholarly journals use a specific layout, called the “IMRaD” format, to communicate empirical research findings. Such articles typically have 4 components:

  • Introduction: sometimes called “literature review” — what is currently known about the topic — usually includes a theoretical framework and/or discussion of previous studies
  • Methodology: sometimes called “research design” — how to recreate the study — usually describes the population, research process, and analytical tools
  • Results: sometimes called “findings” — what was learned through the study — usually appears as statistical data or as substantial quotations from research participants
  • Discussion: sometimes called “conclusion” or “implications” — why the study is important — usually describes how the research results influence professional practices or future studies

Thank you to Penn State University for their description of empirical research: https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/emp

Methodological research / study

According to Mbaugbaw et al., a methodological study will:

“…evaluate the design, analysis or reporting of other research-related reports […] They help to highlight issues in the conduct of research with the aim of improving […] research methodology, and ultimately reducing research waste (2020, p.1).

In simple terms, it’s research on research!

Key characteristics to look for:

  • Will have the term ‘methodological research’ or ‘methodological study’ in the title or abstract.
  • Has more of a focus on the method(s) employed to do the research (e.g. interviews, questionnaires) rather than the findings of the research.
  • Evaluates how research was done and how the methodology could be improved.

How to find empirical and methodological research articles in Library Search and databases

Finding these research articles isn’t always easy, but it can be done! While they are indexed in most databases, it can sometimes be tricky to find them because of the wide variety of names used for these type of studies (methodological research can also be known as research-on-research, meta-research, meta-epidemiological studies etc.). Here’s our top tips for finding empirical and methodological research articles:

Searching via journal titles

The easiest way to find these journal articles is to target journals that are focused on research methods, then search or browse within those titles.

Here’s some examples of such journal titles to help you find methodological studies:

I recommend that you search for these titles in Library Search under ‘Everything except articles’ filter:

Screenshot of Library Search and searching for a particular Journal title.

Within these titles I recommend searching for “methodological study” in the abstract:

Screen shot of searching within SAGE Journals for "methodological study"

To find empirical research articles, you would go to top, peer-reviewed, research journals in your field of study (the list is endless!) and search within these using relevant keywords.

Here are some key journal titles in the field of business:

You then need to search within these journal titles, ideally within the abstract, for keywords relating to the research design / method ( i.e. how the researcher collected their empirical research) So you might search for terms such as interview*, survey*, questionnaire*, “focus group*” or “mixed method*” :

Screen shot of searching within a business journal for an empirical research method

Searching via keyword in Library Search and databases

If you aren’t finding enough when searching within journal titles, broaden your search by looking within Library Search and other suitable databases.

The Advanced Search within Library Search is a good place to start. Again, try to search for keywords such as “methodological study”, or by method, e.g., interview*, survey*, questionnaire*, “focus group*” or “mixed method*”, along with your subject topic. Remember to use the filters if you need to find research within a particular time frame, such as the last 10 years:

Screenshot of Library Search search for "methodological study"

If you are looking within Scopus or subject specialist databases, such as Business Source Complete, the process is exactly the same. If your search isn’t working, try different keywords, but persevere as the research is there, it just might be hiding:

Screenshot of Scopus showing searching "methodological study" within the Abstract field.

Searching with controlled vocabulary / subject headings

Some of our databases use controlled vocabulary (a thesaurus), this allows you to identify the preferred terms used in a particular database for your topic of interest, making it easier to find relevant articles. Here is a worked example using controlled vocabulary in Business Source Complete:

I tried a search for “empirical research”, and found it is a preferred term within this database:

Clicking on this preferred term allows you to explore any related or narrower terms, which you can choose to add to your search to improve the quality of your results:

Screenshot of thesaurus in Business Source complete

I decided to add Empirical research and the related term Quantitative research to my search, clicking add to include them in my search string:

I can then add subject related terms to my search:

Many of the social sciences databases have a thesaurus that you can search within.

SAGE Research Methods

For further help on topic of research methods and methodologies, check out SAGE Research Methods. This is a database containing thousands of resources, dedicated to the subject area of Research Methods. It supports all stages of the research process including: writing a research question, conducting a literature review, choosing the best research methods, analysing data, to writing up your results and thinking about publication. It contains information suited to all levels of researchers, from undergraduates starting your first project to research associates. Within the resource, you can access dictionary and encyclopaedia entries, book chapters, full books, journal articles, case studies, some datasets and video. There are many uses for the resources you will find in SAGE Research Methods:

  • get a quick explanation of a term or concept in a dictionary or encyclopaedia entry
  • access a full overview of a qualitative and quantitative methods, theory or approach in a specialist book
  • use an e-book chapter that covers a specific method in more detail for your methodology chapter or when choosing how to approach your research
  • access a journal article that illustrates the real world application of the methods in research

Access the SAGE Research Methods User Guide for an overview of the resource, and use the tabs below to access videos and training materials to get started. 

To access SAGE Research Methods, either:

I hope you have found this useful. I’m sorry there isn’t an easy way for finding such articles, however, a thorough and systematic search within journal titles, Library Search and databases will allow you to find some relevant and good quality articles that you can use in your research.

If you need further help with this topic or something similar, please make an appointment with your Liaison Librarian.

References

Mbuagbaw, L., Lawson, D. O., Puljak, L., Allison, D. B. and Thabane, L. (2020) ‘A tutorial on methodological studies: the what, when, how and why’, BMC Medical Research Methodology, 20(1). Available at: https://bmcmedresmethodol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12874-020-01107-7 (Accessed: 15 June 2022).

Be Connected: EndNote

What is EndNote?

The official blurb on EndNote is that it is “…the industry standard software tool for publishing and managing bibliographies, citations and references.”

EndNote takes a little getting used to and we recommend you familiarise yourself with it at the start of your research process. EndNote isn’t for everyone, but EndNote can save you a lot of time in terms organising and managing your references for assignments, dissertations or big research projects.

You can use EndNote to create and organise a personal library of resources relevant to your research. You can import references from Library Search, and a huge range of databases such as Scopus, Web of Science, IEEE Xplore and Business Source Complete. Did you know you can instruct Google Scholar to import references into EndNote too? Give it a go.

You can also ask EndNote to locate full-text PDFs for references and annotate the documents within EndNote. Finally, if you already have PDFs stored in your home folder (H:\) then you can attach them to a manually-created reference within EndNote, bringing all your research together in one place.

In addition to organising your references (and this is the clever bit) you can then get EndNote to ‘talk’ to Microsoft Word, and insert the citations into your work for you in your chosen referencing style, e.g. Harvard at Newcastle, Vancouver, APA or MLA. If you don’t want to do that, then EndNote will also allow you to create an independent bibliography of your references, saving you an awful lot of typing.

EndNote help

  • Enrol onto our Teach Yourself EndNote module on Canvas to become proficient in using EndNote.
  • Take a look at our EndNote Guide which contains all the introductory information you need, step-by-step workbooks to train yourself on the use of EndNote (the Desktop and Online versions), videos, and useful FAQs.
  • Finally, Newcastle University provides support for EndNote but it is not compulsory to use. Take some time to explore alternative referencing management tools such as MendeleyZoteroRefWorks which might suit you better.
  • If you can’t find the answer, email Library Help and someone will get back to you, or you can fill in the form on the FAQ box.

Help and training from Clarivate

For further training, you might want to have a look at Clarivate’s training calendar.  They also have really useful Question and Answer sessions where you can ask them anything regarding EndNote. You can register for any of the training via their training calendar.

They also have an excellent suite of training resources which includes video tutorials, self-guided learning, PDF reference guides, live training and online guides for:

Be Connected: Finding Market Research

Following on from our Be Connected: finding and using market research for your research session, this blog post covers the main points that we covered in our session.

Where to find market research

Market Research Resource Guide

Our Market Research guide draws together the resources that we have at Newcastle University for finding key market research information. Visit the Market Research guide to access our University subscriptions on and off campus.

Mintel

As a globally recognised market analyst, Mintel produces hundreds of reports into UK-specific consumer markets every year. Each report that Mintel publishes provides a unique overview of a market’s dynamics and prospects, giving you the knowledge to devise informed and profitable marketing strategy.

What type of information will I find in Mintel?

Mintel provides consumer market research reports covering different topics or sectors of the UK market. You’ll find market research data that analysts at Mintel have collated including trends, statistics, information on brands and companies, demographic data on a range of sectors.

Which countries does Mintel cover?

Mintel covers UK only. For international marketing data, you’ll need to access another information resource we have called Passport which is provide by a company called Euromonitor.

What does our Mintel subscription at Newcastle cover?

We do not subscribe to all the reports on Mintel, currently we have access to:

  •          Automotive
  •          Beauty and personal care
  •          Clothing and footwear
  •          Drink
  •          Food
  •          Health and Wellbeing
  •          Home retailing
  •          Household care
  •          Media
  •          Retail
  •          Technology

Library Horizons contains issues associated with marketing such as green lifestyles, Christmas shopping, consumers and the economic outlook. We also have some one off reports which we’ve purchased e.g. European Retail Handbook. So we currently have access to around 200 reports.

Recently Mintel has been providing ongoing insight and analysis across a range of industries to help you understand how and why consumer sentiment and behaviour are changing during the pandemic.

To find these resources, you need to go to Mintel (via Library Search) and there’s tab dedicated to Covid-19 analysis:

Screen shot of Mintel homepage highlighting the Covid 19 tab.

With over 200 results, there’s plenty to help any research project looking at consumer behaviour during this time.

Passport

One of the major resources we have for students, researchers and staff within the Business School is Passport. This is particularly good if you’re looking for information on Market Research which can be anything from consumer preferences and buying habits, companies and their products and market share.

You can learn more about the platform from their help guide.

What does our Passport subscription at Newcastle cover?

We subscribe to research data strands that cover industries, economies, business landscape and finance. Market research data that analysts at Euromonitor have collated including consumer lifestyle reports, future demographics, country profiles, updates on consumer and industry trends, company information, market sizes and economic indicators. Passport covers more than 200 countries and regions, with a global outlook.

The company who provide Passport, Euromonitor have a great YouTube channel where they upload short videos which covers information on sectors, trends and hot topics. These are created by data analysts who work closely with that sector and collate the data which feature in the reports and charts.

We think this is great way to quickly identify developing markets, flourishing segments and areas for predicted growth and trends. So if you have been asked to pick or research a growth area or identify a gap in the market to launch a new and viable product you might to browse through their channel.

If you click to display by videos and ensure you’ve got them displayed by newest first you’ll see some trends videos so for 2021 so you’ll get a good idea of consumer trends, top cities to watch, industry and economic trends.

Euromonitor have also curated their videos under a section on their channel called playlists So if you’ve been asked to look at a specific market you might want to browse through playlists and see what videos they have.

They are short, snappy and give you enough insight which might spark an idea or help you decide on a product or market.

Statista

An extensive statistics platform covering over 1.5 million data sets (and adding an additional 500 each day) with revenue forecasts from 2015 to 2022 on over 400 industries.

Data is collected from over 22,500 sources covering over 75,000 different topics.

The platform can broken down into different elements including:

Statistics : where you can choose your industry e.g. Consumer goods, Retail & Trade.

Reports: This section is very comprehensive and you can select :

  • Dossiers which are a quick quantitative overview of a topic. These are in house reports which contain the most recent and relevant statistics concerning a single subject. You can export these in PowerPoint or PDF format.
  • Outlook Reports which are trend forecasts
  • Surveys which are market insights from an expert and consumer perspective
  • Toplists which are company ranking for sales and analysis
  • Market studies
  • Industry Reports which are perfect for highlighting key figures for a particular industry sector. These are updated annually and contain textual information as well as numerical data such as turnover and revenue.
  • Global Business Cities Reports which are ranking and key statistics on particular cities.
  • Brand reports contain insights into the brand itself
  • Country reports
  • Further studies which are more in-depth reports

Outlooks; these provide information on specific areas and help you identify the potential in those areas. This can include forecasts, detailed market insights and key performance indicators.

Statista online help video

This short video from Statista gives a nice overview of the different search functionalities.

Access via https://www.statista.com/ or via the record on Library Search.  (If you are accessing on campus, the platform will authenticate using IP address. If you are accessing off campus you will be taken through EzProxy so access should be seamless if you’ve logged in previously using your Campus ID and password).

Business Source Complete – MarketLine Reports

MarketLine Reports provide detailed analysis for companies, industries, and countries. These reports can be found within Business Source Complete and contain:

  • Industry: Includes Porter’s Five Forces, trend drivers, and outlook.
  • Country: Based on PESTLE analysis, cover a wide range of issues.
  • Company: Includes company performance and SWOT analysis

Where else to look?

The University subscribes to a number of business news sources, including online access to the Financial Times and The Economist. Visit the Business News Resource Guide to find out how to access the University Library subscriptions for free, including downloading the Financial Times app.

The Business School also provide alternative resources to find market research, which you can access via the Business Subject Guide.

Don’t forget to check out our Market Research Resource Guide and the Business Subject Guide for additional help and resources.

If you have any questions about any of these resources, please contact you Business Library team via Library Help.

Slide from our Market Research session

Be Connected: Finding Company Information

As a student, it can be difficult to decide which databases or web sites you might want to use for your research and it will be dependent on the question you are trying to answer. 

Company information resources can help you compare companies across industries, financial or employee criteria and research individual companies of interest. Depending how much detail you are looking for, you can access short profiles that give you an overview of individual companies or build detailed reports for companies that fit your criteria, including full balance sheets, income statements, ratios and more. 

Where to find company information

Company Information Resource Guide

Our Company Information guide draws together the resources that we have at Newcastle University for finding company profiles, financial data and executive information. Visit the Company Information guide to access our University subscriptions on and off campus.

Business Source Complete

Business Source Complete is a full text business database that covers management, economics, finance, accounting, international business. It has full text access for nearly 3,600 scholarly, business related journals. It also includes trade publications, industry profiles, company profiles and SWOT analysis.

Company Information can be found in a basic search across all of Business Source Complete. You can either search by a company name or BSC will suggest companies that are linked to your topic keywords.

Alternatively, you can search within the Company Information section by company name.

What else can you find in BSC?

Company Profiles

The Company Profiles section found under the more menu gives
you access to a full profile report for thousands of companies.
Search by the company name. It includes detailed company
information for more than 1.1 million of the world’s largest
public and private companies.Information includes financials,
subsidiaries, products, employees, industry information and
more.

Company Profiles are drawn from a number of different sources
including:

  • Marketline: A business information company covering the automotive,
    consumer, energy, financial services, healthcare and technology
    sectors. Used to called Datamonitor.
  • Medtrack Company Profiles: A biopharmaceutical corporate intelligence company.

Industry Profiles

Nearly 10,000 Industry Profiles that are updated annually. These are full text and can come from a variety of different providers including Marketline.

Nexis

Nexis is a major full text database for global news and business information.

Access to over 35,000 sources, with more than 12,000 international news sources including UK daily and regional newspapers, and company information for over 200 million companies worldwide.

In Nexis you can :

  • find newspaper articles and trade journal articles on a business related topic
  • gather information about a company, industry, country and people
  • keep up to date on a topic of interest

Company and financial reports

  • 180 company databases from around the world
  • Coverage of over 200 million companies worldwide (public and private)
  • Over 20 million US companies included (public and private)
  • In-depth company profiles
  • Company snapshots
  • Financial analysis and competitor information

Industry and Country Reports

  • Daily industry-led news
  • Comprehensive monthly/quarterly reports
  • Industry & country driven reports including SWOT, forecastings, market trends and analysis
  • Multi-national sector directories broken down by key industry verticals

Companies Search

Use the Companies tab to look up factual data on a company. For example name of executives, ages, bonuses, salaries, description of the company, history of how they were funded and competitors.

For advanced use of Nexis, select the Power Search. This allows you to be very specific about the keywords you enter, where you would like them to appear in the article and which publications you would like to search.

Bureau van Dijk databases

At Newcastle University we subscribe to three products which provide access to company accounts, ratios, activities, ownership and management information.

Fame

This resource covers UK and Irish companies providing data for company accounts, ratios, activities, ownership and management.

  • Turnover > £1.5 million
  • Profits > £150,000
  • Shareholder Funds > £1.5 million

Amadeus

This resource covers standardised annual accounts (for up to 10 years), consolidated and unconsolidated, financial ratios, activities and ownership for over 7 million companies throughout Western and Eastern Europe, including Germany, France, Italy, Ukraine and Russian Federation. Company financials are in a standard format so you can compare companies across borders. Information includes Financial strength indicators, directors, images of reports and accounts for listed companies, stock prices and detailed corporate structures

  • Operating revenue > €15 million
  • Total assets > €30 million
  • Number of employees > 150

Oriana

This resource covers accounts, ratios, activities, ownership and management for around 80,000 very large companies across the Asia-Pacific region, including China, Singapore, Hong Kong and India. information includes company financials, financial strength indicators, directors and contacts, original filings/ images, detailed corporate structures, market research and economic country profiles and outlooks, business and company- related news and M&A deals and rumours

  • Operating Revenue >= 100 million EUR (130 million USD)
  • Total assets >= 200 million EUR (260 million USD)
  • Employees >= 1,000

Where else to look?

The University subscribes to a number of business news sources, including online access to the Financial Time and the Economist. Visit the Business News Resource Guide to find out how to access the University Library subscriptions for free, including downloading the Financial Times app.

The Business School also provide alternative resources to find company information, which you can access via the Business Subject Guide.

Don’t forget to check out our Company Information Resource Guide and the Business Subject Guide for additional help and resources.

If you have any questions about any of these resources, please contact you Business Library team via Library Help.

Slides from our Company Information session

Be Connected: skills for postgraduate students

Join us for a summer of connecting and learning with our two-week programme of online supportive sessions for Be Connected (w/c 14th June 2021), and end your academic year (or start your summer!) on a positive note.


Throughout Be Connected weeks the Library, Academic Skills team, and Writing Development Centre are hosting a series of online live events that will help you enhance those all-important academic skills. We will also be highlighting our very best resources, so you’ll have a host of useful tools and advice at your fingertips.  

A good place to start 

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Now is a great time to take a step back and assess your academic skills, review your deadlines, and organise your research. Join the Academic Skills Development team for an essential workshop on Time Management or sign up to a session to work on academic skills for your dissertation. The Library’s live session on ‘Getting the most from your search strategy’ will give you the tools to improve your search skills, particularly if you are undertaking a Systematic Review: 

Time management: priorities and breaks

Academic skills for dissertations

Getting the most from your search strategy – Hints and tips

Library Subject Support Blog: Top tips 

Academic Skills and Writing Development blog: Time Management 

Getting results 

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As you embark on your dissertation or research project there are many ways the Library, Academic Skills Development team and Writing Development Centre can advise and support you with your reading, notetaking, searching, and critical thinking. Our live Dissertation and Literature Review sessions are designed to help you at each stage of your research, whether you’re looking to plan your next steps, or add in finishing touches before submission. Also check out a fantastic session from our Special Collections and Archives team, which highlights how you can use our incredible collections for your research.

Critical writing: indicating stance

Managing a Dissertation, Thesis or Research Project

Dissertations: Building from firm foundations

Dissertations: The Finishing Touches

The Literature Review: in Discussion with the WDC

Introduction to Special Collections and Archives

Library Subject Support blog: Subject Guides 

Academic Skills and Writing Development blog: Dissertations 

Searching, Reading and Notetaking 

Fine-tune your skills 

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You might feel confident with your academic skills, but maybe some of those abilities could use a little bit of fine-tuning? Take time during Be Connected to hone your skills with the help of our live sessions.  Referencing and referencing management can easily fall off your list of priorities, so to help you keep on top of all those citations and bibliographies the Library will be looking at common referencing problems and where to find help. Or you might like to investigate some of our subject specialist resources, such as newspapers, audio-visual, company information or market research:

Finding newspapers and audio-visual sources for your research

Business resources: finding and using company information for your research

Business resources: finding and using market research for your research

Referencing drop-in

EndNote drop-in

Library Subject Support blog: Referencing 

Shape the future

During these two weeks the Academic Skills Development team want to hear from you at two focus groups to gather feedback on the redevelopment of the Academic Skills Kit website and to inform the creation of future resources:

Wednesday, June 16th, 2pm: Academic Skills Development Team focus group

Wednesday, June 23rd, 3pm: Academic Skills Development Team focus group

We look forward to seeing you soon!

How to make an action plan for your studies and achieve your goals

Everyone has goals, be that for lifestyle, health, work or study. These goals give you focus, generate new habits and keep you moving forward in life. However, life is tough, particularly at the moment, so the thought of setting goals can sometimes feel overwhelming. This post will take you through how creating an action plan will help you clarify your goal journey; exploring what your goal is and why you’re setting it, what it will take to achieve, and how you will motivate yourself to reach your destination.

The examples we will focus on will be for study goals, however you can apply this method of goal setting to any aspect of your life.

1. Start with reflection

Before embarking on your shiny new goals, take some time to reflect on your previous goals. Which goals have you successfully achieved? Why were they a success? Is there anything you would do differently this time? Is there a common theme in the goals that you didn’t achieve, such as a lack of purpose?

Ask yourself ‘why’ you are setting this new goal, doing so will help you stay focused and give you meaning and purpose for this potentially challenging journey that you are embarking on.

2. Make them SMART

Your goals need to be SMART:

  • Specific – a specific and focused goal to allow for effective planning
  • Measurable – how will you measure the success of your goal? 
  • Achievable  – a goal that you will realistically accomplish within a time frame
  • Relevant  – a goal that is important and benefits you
  • Time bound – a goal that has a realistic deadline

What is your goal and how can you make it SMART?

EXAMPLE: Your goal is to hand in your dissertation early this summer. This goal, as it is, may feel daunting and unachievable, so how can we make it SMART?

  • Specific – You want to hand in your dissertation two weeks early because you are going on holiday.
  • Measurable – You will set measurable targets daily/weekly, such as X amount of words written by X.
  • Achievable – You have 10 weeks to complete your goal, so you feel it is very attainable if you plan your time carefully (if you only had 2 weeks, you might want to reconsider your goal).
  • Relevant – This goal is very relevant as you need to do well in your dissertation so you can pass your degree, but you also need to complete it early so you can go on your booked holiday.
  • Time bound – You have a clear ideal deadline of two weeks before hand-in.

Use our Goal Setting Template to get you started on your SMART goal:

3. Put your goal into action

An action plan is a flexible checklist or document for the steps or tasks that you need to complete in order to successfully achieve the goal(s) you have set yourself.

This could be written in a notebook, diary or using the Action Plan Template we have created that you can print off and use. It’s important that you get out your pen and actually write your goals down on paper. Research has shown that this will engage the left-hand, logical, side of the brain – basically telling your brain that you mean business!

Use our Action Plan Template to put your SMART goal(s) into action:

4. Plan for obstacles

There are always going to be challenges and events that may disrupt your goal, but instead of letting that obstacle derail you, plan for it.

Look at your study goal and identify what the obstacle(s) will be.

EXAMPLE: You want to submit your dissertation in early, but there’s a big family birthday coming up and a Uni field trip planned. So, get your action plan out and make sure these events are accounted for and plan your studies around them.

5. Check it off

There is nothing more satisfying in life (well apart from popping bubble wrap) than crossing or checking items off a to-do list – it’s that sense of accomplishment, feeling like you are finally getting there, which in turn reduces stress. So remember to break down your goal into small attainable actions and checklists, and for big projects, such as a dissertation or research project, you might have multiple checklists on the go. Just think of the satisfaction you will feel when it’s all done!

6. Reward yourself

This a very personal aspect of goal setting, but an important one.

To boost your motivation we recommend that you choose a reward for all your successful hard work, but select something that’s in relation to the size of the goal – maybe a piece of cake for getting a First Class degree is a bit out of proportion! Add this reward to your action plan and remind yourself of your incentive on a regular basis. It will keep you motivated when you feel like giving up.

EXAMPLE: If you hand-in your dissertation early you will treat yourself to a night out with your friends before you go on holiday.

7. A bit more reflection

You made this goal for a reason – it’s something that you really, REALLY want to achieve, so if your plan isn’t working, change it! Take some time to reflect on what’s working or not working in your action plan, be that daily, weekly, or monthly. Consider – How are you progressing? What changes can you make to bring you closer to your goals? It hard to keep on track when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, so are there any quick wins to give you a sense of accomplishment?

EXAMPLE: It’s late at night, you’re tired and struggling to write your dissertation conclusion. Your self-given deadline is in a days time and you are starting to doubt that your goal is achievable – maybe you need to postpone the holiday?

What you need to do is pivot your method – this isn’t working, so what can you change to still achieve your goal? Maybe leave the conclusion for the morning when you feel more awake, but spend the next hour focusing on your reference list so you can tick that off your action plan instead.

Final thoughts

Your SMART goals can be about anything and should be quite simple to plan. There’s lots of help online on using SMART goals, but working your way through the acronym for your particular goal is an excellent start. Don’t forget to use our Goal Setting Template and our Action Plan Template to help keep your goals manageable and reduce that feeling of overwhelm with your studies.

P.S. I had to set myself a SMART goal for writing this blog post and my reward was a very tasty lunch ❤

Fake News: the dangers of conspiracy theories

I actually enjoy a good conspiracy theory, and they often make for great film or TV tropes. Do you remember the end clip of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark where the American government are storing the Ark of the Covenant in a huge warehouse? Do you think this is true? Might governments be hiding top secret things from us in massive, unknown warehouses? I like to jest that I believe this is real.

However, it wasn’t until recently that I realised how dangerous really believing in conspiracy theories can be. Watching the storming of Capital Hill in Washington DC back in January this year, opened my eyes to how conspiracy theories could take hold and potentially endanger lives.

Like fake news, conspiracy theories have been around for a very, very, very long time. Here’s some that you might recognise:

Most recently, you may have spotted some of the dangerous conspiracy theories rising up around the Covid-19 pandemic.

Do you believe in conspiracy theories? Do you know anyone that really believes in them? Have you ever found it hard to talk to them about what they believe? In light of the conspiracy theories surrounding Covid-19, The European Commission have created 10 useful infographics to help people be aware of conspiracy theories, how they spread, the dangers of them, how to talk to people who do believe in them, and (like fake news), how you should think twice before sharing them online:

I found it particularly interesting to learn that it is basic human nature to question reality in periods of uncertainty/change/major incidents (such as the pandemic, 9/11, shootings of presidents etc.), hence this is often when conspiracy theories take off.

You’ll find these infographics on our Fake New Guide , along with other new content including links to some excellent videos and articles. Be sure to take our poll to share your favourite conspiracy theory movie too!

As a University student, it’s important for you to be aware of conspiracy theories; to know of the dangers they pose, to check your own beliefs and to be careful of what you share online. Use these resources to learn more and always remember, the truth is out there…

Resource in Focus: Mintel and COVID19 information

As a globally recognised market analyst, Mintel produces hundreds of reports into UK-specific consumer markets every year. Each report provides a unique overview of a market’s dynamics and prospects, giving you the knowledge to devise informed and profitable marketing strategy. Mintel is also one of the many Business specialist databases that we subscribe to here at Newcastle University, which you can access via Library Search, or along with many other of our resources via our Business Subject Guide.

Recently Mintel has been providing ongoing insight and analysis across a range of industries to help you understand how and why consumer sentiment and behaviour are changing during the pandemic.

To find these resources, you need to go to Mintel (via Library Search) and there’s tab dedicated to Covid-19 analysis:

Screen shot of Mintel homepage highlighting the Covid 19 tab.

With over 200 results, there’s plenty to help any research project looking at consumer behaviour during this time.

Let us know if you have any questions or queries about this resource: lib-socsci@ncl.ac.uk

Enrichment week: referencing drop-in

Thanks to everyone who came along to our Referencing drop-in session. Here you can find links to the key resources we highlighted, so you have them all in one handy place, whether you were able to participate in the sessions or not. You can also find a copy of our slides and a link to other useful referencing/managing information blog posts at end of this post.

Our Managing Information Guide and the slides from the session give you the context of why it is import to reference and why you should be managing your information. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information out there (and that’s before you start your dissertation/project!), so getting into good habits it essential not only academically, but also for your wellbeing.

Why is referencing important?

  • It acknowledges the ideas and contributions of others that you have drawn upon in your work, ensuring that you avoid plagiarism
  • It highlights the range of reading you’ve done for your assignment and makes your own contribution clear, showing how you’ve taken ideas from others and built upon them
  • It enables the person reading your work to follow up on your references so they can learn more about the ideas you’ve discussed in your work or check any facts and figures.

How does referencing work?

Once you understand the why, you can get onto the nuts and bolts of referencing – the how:

Are there any tools that can help?

Yes!  There are lots of referencing tools that can help you manage and format your citations and references correctly.  Here are some examples:

A very useful online tool that lists all the information you need to include in a reference and provides examples of how a reference will look as an in-text citation and in a reference list.  See our ‘Level Up Your Referencing: Cite Them Right’ blog for more information.

  • Citation Buttons
Citation button consisting of a speech mark "

Keep an eye out for this symbol on Library Search and Google Scholar.  Clicking the button will provide the option for you to copy a reference in a particular style and paste it directly into your reference list.  You might need to tidy it up a little bit but it will save you time over writing them manually.

Reference building tools help you to create a bibliography using the correct referencing style.  You can input information manually or use import functions to pull information through from other webpages or documents.  As with the citation button above, reference building tools can save you time but you may still need to check the references are accurate.

  • Reference Management Software: e.g. EndNote

If you are writing a detailed essay, dissertation or thesis, you may like to use a reference management tool such as EndNote, Mendeley or Zotero to help keep all of your references organised.  This software allows you to manually add references or import them from Library Search, Google Scholar or Subject Databases; sort references into groups; attach pdf documents or add notes.  You can then use the reference management software while you write to add in-text citations and format your reference list.

The University has a subscription for EndNote which is available in all University clusters and can be downloaded to your own personal device. You’ll find information about how to get started with EndNote on our EndNote Guide.

Remember: whatever tool you use, it’s always a good idea to get to know the conventions of the referencing style your school or lecturer would like you to use.

Need more help?

If you feel you need to work on your referencing a bit more, and still a bit unsure about it all, we recommend that you complete Cite them Right’s Referencing and Plagiarism tutorial – You’ll need to log in then select the tutorial button on the top right of the homepage.

Slides

Here’s a copy of our slides from our referencing drop-in session:

Referencing blog posts

Explore our other referencing and managing information blog posts.

Grow the skills you need

Grow your skills promo image

Enrichment week is a great opportunity to take some time to reflect on your academic skills and practice ahead of completing upcoming end of year assessments.  


Throughout Enrichment week the Library and Writing Development Centre are hosting a series of live events that will help you grow and enhance those all-important academic skills. During the week we will be highlighting our very best resources, so you’ll have a host of useful tools and advice at your fingertips.  

A good place to start 

It’s early days in this semester, so you have time to take a step back and assess your academic skills, review your feedback, and organise your studies. Join the Writing Development Centre for live Q&A sessions on Time Management, and Feedback, or register for the Library’s live session on Developing your Information Skills, which will give you the tools to evaluate and improve your skills: 

Live Q&A (In discussion with…) Feedback Friday (WDC) 

Developing your Information Skills: Live session with the Library Liaison team 

Managing your time effectively 

Library Subject Support Blog: Top tips 

Academic Skills and Writing Development blog: Time Management 

Getting results 

As you embark on your dissertation there are many ways the Library and Writing Development Centre can advise and support you with your reading, notetaking, searching, and critical thinking. Our two live Dissertation and Literature Review sessions are a great starting point for planning your next steps, while the Write Here, Write Now session will help you kick start your writing. Also check out a fantastic session from our Special Collections and Archives, which highlights you how you can use our collections for your dissertation.

Get a head start with your dissertation: Live session with the Library Liaison team  

Dissertations: final checks and questions: Live session with the Library Liaison team 

Write Here, Write Now with the WDC 

Special Collections and Archives for your dissertation

Library Subject Support blog: Subject Guides 

Academic Skills and Writing Development blog: Dissertations 

Searching, Reading and Notetaking 

Fine-tune your skills 

You might feel confident with your academic skills, but maybe some of those abilities could use a little bit of fine-tuning? Take time during Enrichment week to hone your skills with the help of our live sessions.  Referencing can easily fall off your list of priorities, so to help you keep on top of all those citations and bibliographies the Library will be looking at common referencing problems and where to find help. Or you might like to perfect your presentations with help from the Writing Development Centre. 

Referencing drop-in: Live session with the Library Liaison team 

Live Q&A (In discussion with…) on Presentations (WDC) 

Euromonitor International Passport – online demonstration and live Q&A

Library Subject Support blog: Referencing