Finding and Gathering Materials

Library membership is provided by most universities, which ensures you have access to all the reading material required  – throughout your search books should not be your only source of information, but surfing through electronic databases, e-journals and e-books, videos and DVDs. as well as subject specific journals/periodical collections and theses, With such a vast amount of material available to you, it is necessary to transfer your essay topic into a form that enables research to take place. Your search plan must commence with sorting out the types of words which make up your topic and that you may expect to locate in books or in newspaper reports. A good search plan can be related to any sources that are available to be used. This might include library catalogues and computer databases.

The next stage is to locate the most useful resources which have particular relevance to the topic and have been included in your search plan. For example, if your search plan was:

I want to locate information about the impact of a new malaria vaccine including what harm it might do and the risk or side effects – of giving or denying the vaccination to a population.

You may be searching for:

  • Views from experts, views from pressure groups, views from members of the public and views of relevant governments.
  • Research outcomes – medical experimentation, scientific information
  • The Past – where the discussion started and its reasons and precise examples which question the use of the vaccine.

As soon as you have determined what you are required to know about your topic which will help to address the assignment, you will be in the position to study the specific resources which you have made available, including any databases, to ascertain what useful information they reveal. You will have to evaluate the suitability of the information you have accessed, and compile a profile of the opinions that have been formulated in what you read – in a few situations, authors may be openly exposing a specific point of view but in other writing there may be an element of bias, which has the ability to mask the true facts.

Ii shouldn’t be overlooked that one of the better avenues to locate relevant ideas for your essay is to divert your reading by the utilisation of the footnotes and bibliographies of the books you have at your disposal to expand your reading  on a subject. Your reading will already include most of the prominent writers; by sorting through their bibliographies you can gain access to other references which will contain the most current information on the topic.

More notes on researching material

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Your literature review

You will get to a point in your research when you will have to put together a detailed analysis and summation of today’s and previous research in your topic area. This summation is more often than not referred to as a literature summary but alternative labels may include: topic review and subject review.

To enable the production of a great literature review you will find it necessary to identify and analyse suitable material. Your literature review will be a result of the quality of material you source and it is necessary to have an understanding on how information in your area is presented and the way to look for it easily. It is often necessary to continue to locate more literature at different stages throughout your search programme.

From the very start you might have a variety of reasons for conducting the search:

  • advance your knowledge on the area of the topic
  • gain information on the way to search for ideas on your topic
  • resolve gaps in the knowledge that you already have
  • highlight the current situation and make prediction into the future
  • highlight important words / terms and phrases
  • highlight important people and groups.

When you are half way through your research it is a good idea to scrutinise your literature enabling you to:

  • study your advancement and assess your situation
  • look around for more recent research results that may effect your own research
  • try to locate useful literature in allied areas
  • use specific words that you have recently discovered.

When compiling your research you can use the appraisal to:

  • look around for more recent research results that may effect your own research
  • introduce your subject
  • put your research into its correct place
  • back up your results and research methodology
  • show you have an insight into your topic area.

Exactly what makes up a literature appraisal will depend on the subject along with its aim. It will be necessary to ask your tutor for some guidelines.

The Use of a Website!

It is very time consuming locating relevant literature. Gaining skills in accessing information will be of assistance when producing literature reviews speedily and will result in the achieving of a higher standard.

There is a way of fast tracking the process of searching by the use of a standardised focus a long with the utilising of services that alert you when you find something relevant.

You are able to upgrade the quality of your review by merging material from a wide range of available sources of information, which may include more marginal sources.

The Structure of the Literature

In order to be a productive researcher it requires excellent knowledge of the sources of information available in your topic area. This knowledge of the subject embraces the aptitude to comprehend and critically appraise appropriate information, but also being aware of and having the aptitude to use the complete spread of sources of information in your c hosen area. The term often used to include appropriate information sources in a particular subject area is ‘the shape of the literature’.