Finding Information: Knowing Where to Look

Photograph of several closed doors, one painted yellow the others painted white.

When you’re looking for information to help you write your essays, assignments or projects it can be tempting to turn to the source of information you use every day – Google.  While Google can be useful in some ways (such as finding company websites or journal author’s profiles), it wasn’t exclusively designed to help you find good quality, academic information that is reliable and relevant.  This means you’ll likely have to spend more of your time wading through huge amounts of information and fact-checking resources for accuracy.

Thankfully, Google isn’t your only option – there are a number of different places to look that have been created with the aim of providing you with the information that you need, such as your reading lists, Library Search, and key Subject Databases.

Take a look at this video to find out more about how these sources can help you:

For more help on finding information, take a look at our Finding Information Guide.

Evaluating Information: Choosing the Cream of the Crop

Field of Wheat

With the high volume of information available to you online when you begin your research, it can be difficult to know which of the sources you find to actually use in your assignments or essays.  Ultimately, you’ll want to choose the information that is of good quality and that can help you to answer your research questions most effectively.  This means you need to make some critical decisions about the information you have found.  Even if the materials you find are from reliable sources, such as Library Search or a Subject Database like Scopus you’ll need to consider how the information you’ve found compares to other information and if it is suitable for your purposes.

To help you make effective critical decisions you’ll need to think about these key areas:

Currency – is the information up-to-date?

Relevance – does it help you answer your research question?

Authority – who wrote it?  How qualified are the authors?

Accuracy – how did the authors of the information reach their conclusions? What evidence and data have they used?

Purpose – Why was it written?

The video below looks at these in more detail:

See our Evaluating Information guide for more advice on selecting suitable information for your assignments and for more on the ins and outs of critical thinking take a look at this great blog from the Writing Development Centre: Shopping Around for a Critical Opinion

Free Access to Gartner® Core IT Research for Higher Education

You can now search and download the latest IT research, case studies and tech trends to support your research and business projects. 

​​​​​Newcastle University students and staff have free access to the Core online resources of Gartner, the leading provider of research and analysis on the global information technology (IT) industry.  

Gartner Core IT Research for Higher Education includes:

  • The latest IT research and technology news, case studies and trends to support your research and business projects. 
  • Access to research Special Reports – providing insights into major business and technology trends. 
  • Gartner® Magic Quadrant, Vendor Ratings and Hype Cycles, to inform plans and support business decisions. 
  • Access to online IT events and webinars  

Getting Started 

You can sign in to Gartner Core IT Research at go.ncl.ac.uk/gartner using your University login name and password.

If you have any problems accessing the service please contact it.servicedesk@ncl.ac.uk

Three Steps to Getting the Most from EndNote

Someone walking up metal staircase

If you’re writing a detailed essay, dissertation or thesis, reference management software such as EndNote can save you a lot of time and effort but only so long as you put in some time and effort to learn how it works first.

So let us help you get a head start with these three steps:

Step 1: Getting set up & practising the basics

Use our online workbook to get off on the right foot with EndNote; it will guide you through setting up your EndNote Library, adding references and using EndNote with Word.

You can watch this handy video from Clarivate for a visual demonstration too:

Step 2: Organisation from chaos

You’ve probably got a lot of records in your Library now so it’s time to get organised!  Take a look at these short guides and build up your EndNote expertise:

These tools will help you keep all your information together and make it easily accessible for step three…

Step 3: Now for the real magic

Now you’ve collected and organised your references, it’s time to put them to work for you using Cite While You Write in Word.  Watch this video from Clarivate to see how it’s done:

Some EndNote Extras

Keen to learn even more? Take a look at the EndNote Extras section of our EndNote Guide to find out how to merge documents and reference lists, how to share your Library with colleagues or how to find the full text PDF of an article from your EndNote Library.

Outside the Box

While the University has a subscription to EndNote and the Library offer some support to help you use it, there are other reference management software tools available.  Take a look at this FAQ to see some comparison charts that can help you decide which tool might be best for you!

Managing Information: Referencing

Referencing is an important part of academic writing – you’ll usually find it included in the marking criteria for your assignments and projects, with marks being awarded for correctly formatted citations and reference lists.

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?

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’re 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 so that you can spot mistakes or missing information.

You can find out more about referencing and plagiarism by following this tutorial from Cite Them Right.

Mobile Apps & Resources Guide

Collage of mobile app icons

Our mobile devices are great for helping us to stay in touch with friends and family, keeping us up-to-date with the latest trends and news on social media and, of course, for sharing cat videos.

However, your mobile device can also be a great tool for learning and study, if you’ve got the right apps!

With recommendations from students in SNES, (who have been using tablets on their course for the past year) our updated Mobile Apps and Resources Guide provides a host of freely available apps and mobile friendly resources that can help you get the most from your device. It includes apps for study and productivity, creativity and design, history, languages, business, science and more.

Screenshot of the Mobile Apps Guide page

So whether you’re just getting set up with your tablet or an old hand looking for something new to help keep you organised with your work or up-to-date in your subject area, our guide has something to help.

Some highlights include:

Microsoft Office Lens – this app helps you make documents or pictures of whiteboards screen readable. You can also use Office Lens to convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files.

Pocket – allows you to save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app to read at a later time.

Trello  – a useful tool that helps you to organize and prioritize your projects using boards, lists and cards.

BrowZine –  a tool that allows you to access and keep up to date with key journal titles that the Library subscribes to in your subject area.

If you have any further suggestions for useful apps that we could add to the guide, let us know at: lib-sage@ncl.ac.uk

Meet the Liaison team

By now some of you may have already met us, but if not you may be wondering who we are and what we do. As the name suggests, the Library’s liaison team liaise with the academic schools at Newcastle University, to help us plan and deliver excellent Library services which meet the needs of staff and students. We’re a friendly bunch: you should get to know us!

How can you get in touch with us?

We’re here to help you get the best out of the Library, so if you need help it’s easy to get in touch. You can find the contact details for the liaison team for your subject area here.  We recommend you use the subject team email addresses, rather than emailing an individual person. That’s because some of us work part-time, or may be away:  emailing the team will ensure you’ll get a prompt answer.

Resource Guides: it’s all in the name!

Last week, we let you in on the secrets of Library Search. This week we want to introduce you to our Resource Guides.

Library Search is a great starting point for any piece of research or essay, but there comes a time, when you need some extra help in finding a particular type of information. And that’s where our Resource Guides come in.  We have a range of guides to suit your information needs including: company information, market research, government publications, newspapers, maps, statistics, patents, standards, theses and dissertations, plus much more.

The guides group together all the main library subscriptions we have for that specific type of information, as well as linking out to key external links and resources too. Wherever possible we also include guidance and help on how to get the best out of the databases and links and group the information together into a logical and helpful way. We know how busy life is and we simply want to save you time!

So what you are waiting for, go and check out our fabulously named Resource Guides, because they do exactly what they say on the tin!

Books added to the Library by students in NUBS (Semester Two 2018/19)

We have a service called “Books on Time” for students. This allows you to tell us about the books you need for your studies. If we don’t have the books you need, simply complete the web form and we’ll see if we can buy them. For books we already have in stock, if they are out on loan please make a reservation/hold request using Library Search.

Further information about Books on Time

In Semester Two, academic year 2018/2019 we bought the following items after requests from students in NUBS.

There were 28 requests from 22 students totalling £1836.43 (25% from Undergraduates, 14%% from Postgraduate taught and 61% from Postgraduate Research)

Title Now in Stock
Bridging Disciplinary Perspectives of Country Image 1xlong
China-Europe Relations: Perceptions, Policies and Prospects 1xlong
Co-branding: The Science of Alliance 1xlong
Competing for capital: Europe and North America in Global Era 1xlong
Corporate Social Responsibility (Business and Society 360, Volume 2) 1xebook
Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability: Emerging Trends in Developing Economies 1xebook
Data Strategy: How to Profit from a World of Big Data, Analytics and the Internet of Things 1xlong
Economic Geography: The Integration of Regions and Nations 1xlong
Empirical Asset Pricing : The Cross Section of Stock Returns 1xlong
Fiscal Incentives for Investment and Innovation 1xlong
Handbook of the Fundamentals of Financial Decision Making 1xebook
Impression Management in Organization 1xebook
Managing the Ageing Workforce in the East and the West 1xlong
Matricentric Feminism: Theory, Activism, and Practice 1xebook
Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research 1xebook
Practising CSR in the Middle East 1xebook
Product-Country Images : Impact and Role in International Marketing 1xlong
Realist responses to post-human society :Ex machina 1xlong
Reinventing Jobs: A 4-Step approach for applying automation to work 1xlong
Sexual Harassment of Working Women: A Case of Sex Discrimination 1xlong
Stereotype Threat: Theory, Process and Application 1xlong, 1xebook
Supply Chains and Total Product Systems: A Reader 1xebook
Sustainable Transportation in the National Parks 1xlong
Systemic Risk, Crises, and Macroprudential Regulation 1xlong
The Oxford Handbook of Pierre Bourdieu 1xlong
The Oxford Handbook of Strategy Implementation 1xlong
The Regulatory aftermath of the global financial crisis 1xlong, 1xebook
Volume 39 Part B – Institutional Logics in Action, Part B 1xlong

Library Search: top search tips

Library Search is a powerful tool that can help you find good quality, relevant information quickly.  Using Library Search is pretty intuitive but there are some useful search tips that can help you improve and get the most out of your searches:

Keywords and Subject Terms

When you’re searching for information it’s important to use a range of related keywords to ensure you find everything relevant to your topic.  For example, if you’re searching for information on ‘Climate Change’ you might also want to search for ‘Greenhouse Effect’ or ‘Global Warming’ too.  Thinking of related keywords can sometimes be difficult but Library Search can help!

From your search results page, click on the title of a resource to open the resource record and scroll down to the ‘Details’ section.  Here you will find a list of ‘Subjects’, also known as subject terms, used to describe the topics and themes this particular resource discusses.  Take a look at this list and add any relevant words to your search string.

Screen shot of Library Search subject terms for climate change

There are some other useful features in the resource record page that can help with your searches too:

Browse the virtual shelf

At the very bottom of the record you’ll find a virtual bookshelf, a visual list of the books that can be found next to this one if you were looking in the physical library.  As the library is organised by subject some of these titles might be useful for your research too.

Screen shot of virtual shelf on library search

Read the abstract

A quick way to tell if a resource is going to be relevant and useful for your research is to read the abstract, a summary of the contents of the resource.  On the resource record in Library Search, you’ll find this under the heading ‘Description’.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search function in Library search allows you to create a search that will produce more focused results.  It does this by providing a range of search fields and drop down lists that help you build up your search.

Screen shot of advanced search

Select from the options to:

  • Limit your search field to the title, author, subject, collection etc.
  • Apply BOOLEAN operators (AND, OR, NOT) to your keywords
  • Filter by specific material types, languages and dates to focus your search results to the most relevant resources.

Take a look at the Advanced Searching page on our Finding Information Guide for more on how to combine your keywords, create a search string and improve your search results.