2. Finding and selecting

Academic staff nurture the development of students’ abilities to frame questions in their discipline, to see patterns in the literature, to evaluate the arguments and to find the gaps. Subject librarians can help to develop students’ skills in finding where the academic discussions are taking place, in identifying quality resources and background evidence as well as in finding resources for other tasks, such as for creating presentations or researching potentials employers.

2.1 Practices


2.1.1…use search tools and sources best suited to the task at hand
2.1.2…identify the key conversations and research in the topic I am investigating
2.1.3…ask questions about what I find to be sure that information is accurate, authoritative and relevant to my purpose

2.2 Skills

I can…

Example activities

2.2.1…select appropriate information research tools for my task, recognising the differences between them and their benefits and limitationsExploring resources activity (page 8)
2.2.2… analyse my topic and formulate keywordsMind mapping or planning keywords (pages 4 and 5)

Finding appropriate sources tutorial (Post graduate taught level) (pages 4-7)

Mindmap template
2.2.3…construct search strategies and use advanced techniques, such as Boolean searching, wildcards and truncation, and limit searches by particular parametersIn pairs, explore the effect of using these techniques on the relevance of the results found

2.2.4…locate sources of full text information, both online and printSet an exercise on accessing the full text of electronic books and journal articles into a searching task (page 12)
2.2.5… track further relevant sources by using citationsPractical task using Scopus or Web of Science to track citations. (A demonstration is available in Choosing quality sources (page 12))
2.2.6…select appropriate information for my task, applying relevant evaluation criteria to determine the quality of the information foundIn pairs students are given a broad topic (e.g. climate change) and asked to prepare a ‘for / against’ argument. Students debate issue and a vote is taken. Marks awarded for use of evidence to support arguments.

Choosing quality sources tutorial

Using a critical appraisal checklist activity (page 9)
2.2.7…maintain a record of searches carried out and information foundIn database search exercises ask students to set up a personal accounts in databases to save search histories and/or email results to themselves

Critique and evaluate examples of research trails
2.2.8…find specialist content appropriate to my task e.g. statistics, datasets, systematic reviews, legal information, market reports, maps, historic documents, re-usable images etc.
2.2.9… use social media and alerting services to keep up to date with my disciplineKeeping your research up to date tutorial

2.3 Awareness

I am aware of…

Example activities

2.3.1… the importance of supporting my arguments and research findings using quality secondary sourcesWhat is synthesis? video (page 5)
2.3.2…the need to consider the relevance, accuracy, bias, reputation and credibility of information found Synthesis quiz
(pages 6 and 8)

Evaluating information tutorial

Evaluating information flowchart
2.3.3… the iterative nature of the search process as I review my findings and explore new avenuesDuring a search exercise ask students to note and reflect on the success of their search strategies.

Image of literature searching cycle (page 3)