The approach you take will depend on two factors:
For some assignments you may be given a reading list but you may need to research beyond this and sometimes you may need to research from scratch. This guide gives an overview of how to find different types of information, both in Oxford University libraries and beyond. You are unlikely to need to use all of them! It is not an in depth guide to individual subjects, and does not go into details of how to use every resource. It is intended to give you some pointers to getting started, and also includes some general tips for effective searching.
SOLO is the catalogue for most Oxford University libraries. For more information on using SOLO, please see How do I search the catalogue? SOLO searches will find both print and e-books. For more information on searching for e-books, please see How do I find and use e-books? Here are some tips for subject-searching for books on SOLO:
Copac is the merged online catalogue of many of the academic, specialist and national libraries of the UK and Ireland. It is freely available from any internet connection. Copac is therefore very useful for carrying out a thorough literature search. Note that Copac will not give you access to the full text of items, but will help you to identify references to follow up or request through inter library loan.
WorldCat - Copac on a global scale! WorldCat includes records of all materials catalogued by OCLC libraries, which include many academic and research libraries worldwide.
You can use SOLO to search for journals by title to check which libraries hold print runs, or to access an electronic journal by title.
You can use SOLO to find journal articles. To do this, click on the Journal Articles tab at the top of the SOLO screen and enter your search. You can use all the usual SOLO features for entering your search, refining the results and saving items of interest to your e-Shelf. You can also choose to view only online articles from your search results, or only articles from peer-reviewed journals.
Using the SOLO journal article search is a quick and easy way to find some useful information. However, if you need to conduct a comprehensive literature search or a systematic review, you need to use a bibliographic database. Bibliographic databases act as a subject index to journal articles and will sometimes include book chapters, reviews, conference papers etc as well. Most bibliographic databases are linked to Oxford University holdings, so you will be able to access the full text if the article is available electronically, or find out where it is held if it is print only.
If you know the name of the database you wish to use, you can enter it in the SOLO search box. If you wish to see what is available for your subject, go to OxLIP+ - there is a link at the top of the SOLO screen. To find bibliographic databases:
Many people are aware of JSTOR and use it for searching for journal articles. JSTOR is a very valuable resource, but you need to understand what it is:
As long as you are aware of these limitations, you will find JSTOR a useful tool which is fairly easy to use. However, depending on the nature of your research, you may need to use other bibliographic databases to find recent articles or to search titles not included on JSTOR
If you enter search terms into Google, you will of course retrieve all sorts of information, not just journal articles
A better option is to use Google Scholar. You can access electronic journals subscribed to by Oxford University via Google Scholar, see How do I use Google Scholar to link to Oxford collections?. If you decide to use Google Scholar, remember:
Google Scholar is not a good tool for a comprehensive literature search but can be helpful for finding some useful articles
As an alternative to Google Scholar, consider using the SOLO journal article search described above. This gives you better searching facilities and allows you to save and re-run search results.
Using conference papers and proceedings can be a useful way of finding cutting edge information on a topic. To find published conference proceedings on SOLO, enter keywords from the title of the conference if you know it. If you are not trying to find the proceedings of a specific event, enter conference as one of your search terms, eg conference climate change
Many bibliographic databases - see Finding journal articles (printed and electronic) - will also also include conference papers - check information about the database. There are also specific databases for finding conference papers and proceedings - try the following, all available on OxLIP+:
Other sources worth trying include:
A comprehensive guide is available for finding theses. It covers:
Note that the guide described above refers to research/doctoral theses and will not include dissertations submitted as part of taught Masters courses. The Rewley House Continuing Education Library holds copies of dissertations submitted as part of courses run by the Department for Continuing Education. Printed lists are available in the Library. Dissertations are strictly for use in the Library only.
Oxford University libraries hold a vast collection of official papers, both historic and current. An increasing number are available electronically. The Guide to Official Papers gives a comprehensive description of the collections held and their locations, help in searching for official papers, online collections and useful websites. There is a collection of online LibGuides which give help in finding different types of official papers.
Further information can be found on the Official Papers website
OxLIP+ brings together online collections of official papers. On the main OxLIP+ screen click the Subject tab and scroll down to select Official Papers
You work may require the use of statistics. There are of course statistics for just about every topic, and you may require historical or current statistics. Many are now available online, either free or as an Oxford University subscription via OxLIP+. Here are a few starting points:
The Bodleian Social Science Library holds a large collection of economic and social statistical series
Accessing news sources is generally best done online
OxLIP+ provides access to two key current news services:
There are also many free news sources on the internet. Some require registration, and you may not be able to access older articles free. Some examples are:
OxLIP+ provides full text access to a number of historic newspapers. On the main OxLIP+ page click the Subject tab and scroll down to select Newspapers. Examples include:
Many Oxford University libraries, including the Rewley House Continuing Education Library, include maps in their collections. To find maps on SOLO:
For more information on printed maps, please see the guide'Finding Aids for Maps'
The Bodleian Library Map Room situated in the Duke Humfrey's Library in the Old Bodleian has the world's seventh largest collection of maps. Full details of the collection are on the website. Note that the collection is not yet fully catalogued on SOLO. A card catalogue can be consulted in the Map Room.
The Oxfordshire History Centre, has an extensive collection of current and historic maps relating to Oxfordshire. You may find this particularly useful if you do not have access to the Bodleian library.
OxLIP+ gives access to Digimap, Digimap Historical Map Services and Geology Digimap The Digimap products enable you to view Ordnance Survey digital data as electronic maps that can be printed or data can be downloaded for use in digital mapping programs. Note that Single Sign On is required to use Digimap even if you are on the Oxford network, and a further registration process is required. If you are not familiar with using these resources, you are strongly advised to visit the the Bodleian Library Map Room where expert help is available. PCs in the map Room are equipped with MapInfo, a GIS and digital mapping tool
There are many sources of digitised maps including:
It is very easy to find images of all types and covering all subjects freely available on the internet. However many of these may be of poor quality and may not be legal to use in your work - images are protected by copyright just as print material is. Internet for Image Searching is an online tutorial from Intute which explains the copyright issues and provides help in finding good quality, legal images for educational use.
Various image databases are listed on OxLIP+. Most of these are subscription services but some are freely available. Image databases are included on appropriate subject lists but to see all available image databases:
Key resources are:
The following may provide some useful starting points:
If you are looking for books about a person on SOLO:
Your search results will be books about the person, not books by the person. You can also use this search for finding critical works.
For biographical information about a type of person rather than a named individual, select in subject as above and enter the profession and biography in the search box, eg
You can also enter more specific terms, eg.
There are many full text online resources listed on OxLIP+. To find all biographical resources:
Whatever you are searching, - Google, SOLO or a complex database - it pays to plan your search. Here are some general tips to help you to make your searches more effective: