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Research Skills for Dissertations: 2013. Sue Bird Bodleian Subject Librarian Geography. Cloud computing. Oxford Libraries Information Platform. Cloud computing. e -Journals e-Books. Literature & Data Search E ngines. The digital architecture facilitating research & study .

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research skills for dissertations 2013

Research Skills for Dissertations:2013

Sue Bird

Bodleian Subject Librarian Geography

the digital architecture facilitating research study
Cloud computing

Oxford Libraries Information Platform

Cloud computing



Literature & Data Search Engines

The digital architecture facilitating research & study

Subscription Dbases

Course Information Management

Policies & Guidelines

Data & File Sharing

On-line data bases

Data Portals


Research Skills Tool Kits

Science & Ideas Media

Networking, Communication & Living

Data Visualisation Tools

Data Mining & workflow tools


SoGE Intranet

Reference Management Tools

OUCS Personal Page

Science Blogs

Oxford iTunes U


You & Your Devices

(and WiFi connection –

Eduroam, OWL)

Note: commercial products cited merely represent commonly used services rather than endorsements

this session
This session
  • How to cite sources correctly & therefore avoid plagiarism
  • How to use Reference Management Software
  • Reference works
  • Google Scholar v. Bibliographic Databases
  • Searching Techniques & Keeping up to date
avoiding plagiarism
Avoiding Plagiarism

"...You must always indicate to the examiners when you have drawn on the work of others; other people's original ideas and methods should be clearly distinguished from your own, and other people's words, illustrations, diagrams etc. should be clearly indicated regardless of whether they are copied exactly, paraphrased, or adapted... ...The University reserves the right to use software applications to screen any individual's submitted work for matches either to published sources or to other submitted work. Any such matches respectively might indicate either plagiarism or collusion...

...Although the use of electronic resources by students in their academic work is encouraged, you should remember that the regulations on plagiarism apply to on-line material and other digital material just as much as to printed material..."

Section 9.5 Proctors' and Assessor's Memorandum

good academic practice
Good academic practice

So follow the citation principles and practices in place in your subject area, develop a rigorous approach to academic referencing, and avoid inadvertent plagiarism.

Be uniform in your referencing system:-

Probably use the Harvard system as suggested on the School’s web-site – but whatever you do use – just be consistent

citing your references
Citing your references

Just a few of the more common points

  • An article in an online journal which also exists in print should be cited in the same way as print.
  • To cite something which only exists electronically, e.g. a web site, follow special rules which include the date viewed.
  • A specific quote must include the page reference in the citation.
citation practice
Citation practice

A large number of manuals are available to give

guidance and sound practice.

  • 1:Doing a literature review / Chris Hart (London, 1998) [H 62 HAR ]
  • 2:Manual for writers / Kate Turabian (7th ed. Chicago, 2007) [LB 2369 TUR ]
  • 3:Communicating in geography & the environmental sciences / Ian Hay (3rd ed. Oxford, 2006) [G 70 HAY ]
  • 4:Cite them right /Pears & Shields (2010 ed.) [LB 2369 PEA]
  • 5: Complete guide to referencing & avoiding plagiarism / Neville (2nd ed. 2010) – available on-line via E.B.L.
references bibliography
References / Bibliography

Organize your research and manage your database of references

  • Import references from many different data sources including direct from databases like Scopus or Web of Knowledge, or library catalogues like SOLO.
  • Store links to documents – pdf’s, images, etc.
  • Include citations while you write your paper
  • Build a bibliography in a variety of styles and in different document formats (Word, RTF, HTML, etc.)
reference management systems
Reference Management Systems


(web based – access your records anywhere - free to members of university – even after you leave)

  • ProCite, Reference ManagerandEndNote (works without web access – software needs to be installed on own machine – charge of c£87 from IT Services in Banbury Rd. (OUCS)
  • EndNoteon the Web

(free to members of university, but has limited feature set – designed to be used alongside desktop version)

  • Zotero is a free plug-in for Firefox browser (only) – limited but growing capability
  • Mendeley, etc.
e journals

I didn't check for the hard copy

- so used to getting online access!

“I had just googled the article rather than using SOLO, so that was the issue & why I’d been asked to login, or use Athens or pay a fee”


Electronic newspapers

  • Some are freely available. Alphabetic list on OxLIP+
  • Best source for the “Text Only” of huge range of newspapers and magazines is Nexis UK. Goes back approximately 10 yrs in most cases and is very current i.e. today’s daily news items

Electronic newspapers

  • Factiva - from Dow Jones & Reuters Company
  • Business news & challenges, market trends & info.
  • 14,000 + sources inc. local & global newspapers, newswires, trade journals, newsletters, etc.
  • Archive back to 1969 - 28 languages from 159 countries
  • Dun & Bradstreet company profiles, Reuters Fundamentals, etc.

Legal information, cases etc.

  • Lexis Library
  • WestLaw – both UK & US editions
  • But there are a lot more

(if necessary ask the Law Library for help)

dissertation techniques
Dissertation Techniques
  • Use SOLO or OxLIP+ to access
  • Reference tools
  • Abstracting and Indexing services
reference sources
Reference Sources

General reference tools

  • CREDO Reference : Reference works incl. Dictionaries, encyclopaedias etc
  • International Encyclopedia of Human Geography
  • Dictionaries. OED; Oxford Reference On-line
Bodleian Maps

e books

Reference books

  • Blackwell Reference Online
  • SAGE Reference Online
  • SAGE Research Methods Online

Text books

  • EBL (officially) the E-Book Library
  • NetLibrarynow hosted by EBSCOhostEbook Collection
  • Oxford Scholarship Online
  • Taylor & Francis Online eBooks Library
subject searching
SOLO and Oxford e-journals cover Oxford holdings only by title
  • Better to use specialist indexes covering the world’s literature to find articles
  • Access via OxLIP+
  • Use inter-library loan for items not held in Oxford and not online
Subject searching
bibliographic databases
Bibliographic Databases
  • Excellent for locating journal articles , book chapters and book reviews (NB. References only,)
  • General or specific subject coverage
  • Different interfaces but similar functionality
  • Not tied to library holdings
  • Frequently will provide a link to full text
google is fast
Google is fast
  • Very fast
  • Proudly fast
  • Tells you how fast
  • Found SoGEhome page in 0.13 secs
  • Also found 26,600,000 other ‘relevant’ pages
  • But put home page first
  • Brilliant - How does it do it?
  • Not telling….
did i need 26 million references
Did I need 26 million references?
  • Nobody looks at all the references Google retrieves
  • So why display them?
  • Algorithm takes into account links made by other pages
  • And click-throughs
  • So the top result for a given search is determined over time by the people who make that search
  • Is that the same as the ‘best’ result?
so let s invent
So let’s invent…

Google Scholar

  • Let’s modify our algorithm so it excludes non-scholarly material (how do we define that?)
  • Let’s look at citations so when one article we index cites another one we index, we can move it higher up the relevance ranking

But let’s not allow:

  • creation of sets / or combining of searches
  • controlled vocabularies
  • info on what is included & what is not / indication of update frequency
databases vs search engines
Contents are indexed by subject specialists

Subject headings

Limiting functions e.g. publication types, language

Allow you to

View Search history

Combine searches

Mark and sort results


Save searches

Set up alerts

Searches done by automated “web crawlers”

No thesaurus / subject headings – just free text searching

No limiting functions

Usually none of these!

Databases vs. Search engines
databases scopus or web of science enable you to
Databases (Scopus or Web of Science) enable you to:
  • Refine results overview to find the main journals, disciplines and authors that publish in your area of interest.
  • Click on the cited by and reference links to track research trends and make connections.
  • Find out who is citing you or your supervisor, and how many citations an article or an author has received.
  • Use Author Identifier to automatically match an author’s published research including the h-index
  • Use Journal Analyzer to provide quick insight into specific journal performance
  • Analyze citations for a particular journal issue, volume or year.
  • Use this information to complete grant or other applications quickly and easily.
  • Use Alerts, RSS and HTML feeds to help you stay up-to-date
  • Data export via bibiliographic managers such as RefWorks, EndNote and BibTeX
bibliographic databases1
Bibliographic Databases
  • Abstracting and Indexing Services
  • Vast range.
  • SCOPUS (includes GEOBASE)
  • ProQuest
  • Web of Knowledge
search strategies
Search Strategies
  • Boolean logic
  • Truncation
  • Wild cards
  • Synonyms
  • Which language are you using?
boolean connectors
Boolean connectors
  • AND – combines terms to restrict results
  • OR – useful for covering synonyms
  • NOT – excludes unwanted areas of research

THEbibliographic database for the Earth, Geographical and Environmental Sciences

Abstract and citation database containing both peer-reviewed research literature and quality web sources. With over 19,500 titles from more than 5,000 international publishers, including 325 book series.

47 million records:

26 million records with references back to 1996 (of which 78% include references).

21 million records pre-1996 which go back as far as 1823.

4.9 million conference papers from proceedings and journals.

eReader Formats

The eReader Formats application allows users to convert ScienceDirect articles as seen in the browser into ePUB or Mobipocket format, whichever is appropriate for the user's electronic reader device.

Interactive Map Viewer

Interactive Map Viewer displays supplementary geospatial data from Elsevier online articles as an interactive map.

Methods Search

Methods Search application helps you find the methods you need for your research.

bibliographic searching
Bibliographic Searching

Search Tip : 1

  • Important to remember that although each database covers thousands of journal titles no single database is ever comprehensive.
  • If you are having difficulty finding material on a topic use the keywords you find in any relevant reference and search again.
synonyms language
Synonyms & Language
  • Topic = Personal energy use reduction
  • Search:
  • A) personal energy use
  • B) “personal energy use”
  • C) “energy use” OR “energy consumption” AND

personal OR private OR household

  • Context : “carbon footprint” OR “carbon neutral”

(including food mile* (i.e. miles or mileage)? )

bibliographic databases2
Bibliographic Databases


  • IBSS: International Bibliography of the Social Sciences
  • Sustainability Science Abstracts
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • PAIS International – government & other ‘grey’ literature 
  • EconLit
  • Environmental Sciences & Pollution Management
bibliographic databases3
Bibliographic Databases


  • CAB Abstracts – biogeography
  • Forest Science - biogeography
  • GeoRef – physical geography & geology
  • Zoological Abstracts (1864-2009 only)
bibliographic databases4
Bibliographic Databases

Web of Science/Knowledge

  • Includes Science, Social Science & Arts and Humanities Citation Indexes
  • Citation indexes can be used in the same way as any other abstracting and indexing service. Their extra facility is the option to search the bibliographies of any articles- a citation search. Academics use the citation index to find out who has cited their work.
bibliographic searching1
Bibliographic Searching

Search Tip : 2

Take time to explore the various databases & platforms available.

Some will be more useful to you than others.

  • Scopus
  • OvidSP
  • ProQuest
  • Web of Knowledge

bibliographic searching2
Bibliographic Searching

Search Tip : 3

Boolean Logical Operators AND, OR, NOT

Proximity operators

Adj (literally adjacent); Near(same sentence); With(same field)

Field descriptors: AU(author); TI(title); AB (abstract); SO(source or reference); DE (general descriptor) etc are likely to be specific to each database and won’t operate in ‘cross searches’

Combining searches: #1 and #2

other tricks
Other tricks:
  • Use symbols for wildcards and truncation
    • ? or $ for a single character

globali?ation / globali$ation (is it an ‘s’ or a ‘z’)

    • * for truncation or variant spellings

govern* for governance, governmentality, etc

  • use quotation marks for searching for phrases
  • e.g. “resource management”
bibliographic searching3
Bibliographic Searching

Search Tip : 4

  • Consider subject synonyms & British and US spellings.
  • Apply truncation, usually * to find plurals/alternative word endings and ? to replace a single character.
  • Expand search by following hypertext links esp subject headings
  • Use tagging facilities within database to mark articles for printing, emailing, downloading or exporting.
  • Authors names: Check the online help for formats. Use the database index to find different forms of author’s name, otherwise truncate first initial.
bibliographic databases5
Bibliographic Databases

Search :- Impact of La Nina and oceanic circulation on climate change (2011-13 only)

Scopus = 74 articles

ProQuest = 37 articles (after de-duplication of 41) (21 not found by Scopus)

Ovid = 51 after de-duplication of 54articles, etc. (adds another 19 to the total)

Web of Science = 84 articles (a further 38 unique items)

RefWorks de-duplication = 152

bibliographic searching4
Bibliographic Searching
  • Three ways to keep up to date:
  • E-mail alert – you can specify a search to be repeated and the results emailed to you at chosen intervals or Zetoc will tell you when the next issue of a journal is available.
  • Saving and rerunning searches – you save a search and run it again in the future.
  • Citation Alert – you will receive an email every time a particular article is cited in another WoK or Scopus indexed article.
dissertation techniques1
Dissertation Techniques

Apart from Bibliographic Electronic Resources there are some factual databases available

via OxLIP+ e.g.:-

  • World development indicators,
  • EIU Country Reports,
  • Demographic Yearbook etc.

If they are CD-ROM based they may require you to download software

guide to resources

further assistance
Further assistance:

This presentation available via WebLearn & on-line

More courses available:

Other presentations:

Guidance for references:

[email protected]

dissertation techniques2
Dissertation Techniques

Your feedback is greatly appreciated

Please complete a short survey @

  • Results from Google Scholar
  • Record for : “State of the Climate 2010” in

a) Scopus

b) Web of Science