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Help Centre - How do I ...?
- Join the Rewley House Continuing Education Library?
- Renew my books?
- Reserve a book that's on loan?
- Request an item from the (Bodleian) stacks?
- Make photocopies or print?
- Use my laptop in the Library?
- Find the items on my reading list?
- Find out what the Rewley House Continuing Education Library has on my subject?
- Renew my books?
- Search the catalogue?
- Find out which other Oxford University libraries cover my subject?
- Research my topic?
- Find and use e-journals?
- Find and use e-books?
- Find other electronic resources?
- Learn how to use a specific electronic resource?
- Access electronic journals and other electronic resources from home or work?
- Use Google Scholar to link to Oxford collections?
- Site Index
- SOLO - Oxford libraries' catalogue
- OxLIP+ - Electronic resources
- Bodleian Libraries
How do I research my topic?
The approach you take will depend on two factors:
- Your subject area
- The level of your work - is it a 1,000 word essay for a Weekly Class or are you starting your Master's dissertation?
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.
- Finding books (printed and electronic)
- Finding journal articles (printed and electronic)
- Finding conference papers and proceedings
- Finding theses and dissertations
- Finding official papers
- Finding statistical information
- Finding news sources
- Finding maps
- Finding images
- Finding biographical information
- Top tips for effective searches
Finding books (printed and electronic)
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:
- If you wish to limit your search to books, click on 'All items' underneath the SOLO search box and select Books.
- Sometimes it is helpful to limit your search to specific fields. To do this, click on 'anywhere in the record' underneath the SOLO search box and select the appropriate field. This is especially useful if you are searching for biographical or critical works. For example, entering Jane Austen as your search term and selecting as author/creator would retrieve works written by Jane Austen. Selecting in subject would retrieve critical or biographical works about Jane Austen. Accepting the default of anywhere in the record would retrieve all works, whether by or about Jane Austen
- Use the Refine my results facility on the SOLO screen once you have carried out a search if you have a large number of results.
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.
Finding journal articles (printed and electronic)
Are you trying to find a specific article?
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.
Are you trying to find articles on your topic?
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.
How do I find bibliographic databases?
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:
- Click on Subject
- Scroll down the left hand panel and click the appropriate subject
- Some subjects have been subdivided. Look for Bibliographic Databases in the right hand panel. Click on it, then click Go
- If your subject has not been sub divided, click General, then click Go. Look for resources that have Abstracts/indexes in the Type column
- Click on the information symbol to find out more about a database
- When viewing the results of a search, a link to Full text may be offered. If not, look for the Find it @ Oxford symbol. This will either direct you to the full text if available, or will offer you a link to OLIS to locate a print copy
How do I know which database to use?
- Looking for databases in your subject area on OxLIP+ as descibed above will help you to identify relevant resources.
- Use the information link on OxLIP+ and/or information supplied by the database to check coverage.
- Our Subject Guides will also indicate key databases for your subject.
- Many of the Oxford libraries produce online LibGuides to resources in their subject area. You may also find useful information on individual library websites, for example:
- Here are a few of the main bibliographic databases to get you started:
- Web of Science. Don't be put off by the name - WoS covers all subjects! It includes the Science Citation Index, Social Science Citation Index and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index.
- ArticleFirst. This covers all subjects
- British Humanities Index. Wide coverage of journals, magazines and newspapers in the Humanities. BHI also includes some Social Science areas such as Political Science and Economics.
- ASSIA - Applied Social Science Index and Abstracts Covers Health, Social Sciences, Economics, Race relations and Education.
- SCOPUS A major resource for Science, medicine and aspects of Social Science. It includes content from other well-known databases such as Medline (Medicine) and Geobase (Geography and Environment)
What about JSTOR?
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:
- JSTOR is a full text archive of key scholarly journals
- Because it is an archive, JSTOR will never include the most recent issues of a journal title, usually the most recent will be 3-5 years old. The record for each journal title will state the 'moving wall' policy
- JSTOR does not include all journal titles. Lists are available by title and subject so that you can check the coverage
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
Why can't I just Google it?
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:
- Your search results will be headed 'Articles' but will in fact contain books, theses, papers, citations etc as well
- Search functionality is very basic compared to bibliographic databases
- You have no knowledge of which journals are included on Google Scholar searches
- You cannot save search results
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.
Finding conference papers and proceedings
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+:
- Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Science. This is part of the Web of Science suite of databases. The Conference Proceedings Citation index can be searched on its own, or as part of a combined search with the other databases. Disciplines covered include Computer Science, Environmental Sciences and Medicine
- PapersFirst. This is is an international, interdisciplinary database covering every published congress, conference, symposium, workshop etc received by the British Library
- ProceedingsFirst. This is is an international, interdisciplinary database covering every published congresse, conference, symposium, workshop etc received by the British Library. Each record for an event will contain a list of every paper presented at it.
Other sources worth trying include:
- Google Scholar
- The website of the institution or organisation that organised the conference
- Many universities now have open access electronic archives where papers presented by researchers attached to the university are published. Oxford University's repository is ORA, Oxford University Research Archive. If accessing a university website, look for or search for links to Repository, Eprints, Electronic Archive etc. Alternatively, OpenDOAR is a gateway to repositories worldwide which enables you to search for a repository, browse a list of repositories geographically or search for content within repositories
Finding theses and dissertations
A comprehensive guide is available for finding theses. It covers:
- Theses holdings in Oxford University libraries and how to find them using SOLO/OLIS
- How to obtain other UK theses, including information on obtaining digital copies from the British Library's EThOS service
- How to find and obtain theses, both print and electronic, from other countries
- Conditions for accessing theses, making copies etc
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.
Finding official papers
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
Finding statistical information
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:
Key print works available in the Rewley House Continuing Education Library
- Social Trends, Office of National Statistics. Also freely available online from the Office of National Statistics
- Annual Abstract of Statistics, Office of National Statistics. Brings together statistics from many sources covering all aspects of the UK. Also freely available online from the Office of National Statistics
Print works in other Oxford University libraries
The Bodleian Social Science Library holds a large collection of economic and social statistical series
- The Economic and Social Data Service International (ESDS) gives access to a range of international datasets. Note: This resource is only available if you have a Single Sign On, even on the Oxford network and registration is required before use
- Histpop - Online Historical Population Reports Complete British population reports for Britain and Ireland from 1801 - 1937 with additional supporting material
- Social Science Library data Search. A customised Google search facility provided by the Social Science Library. You can search by topic and refine your results gegraphically or by type of website
- UK National Statistics Publications Hub. Freely available website providing a gateway to Uk official statistics
- Intute - Statistics and data. Free access to quality internet resources selected by subject experts. The listing is subdivided by catagory and the coverage is international. The site also includes a link to an online tutorial provided by Intute which will help you to find and evaluate internet resources for social statistics
- Further tips:
- Explore your subject area on OxLIP+ - click the Subject tab and scroll to find your subject. Resources with the description Data/Statistics may be of particular interest.
- Explore the websites of organisations and/or professional associations in your subject area as they may publish statistical information
Finding news sources
Accessing news sources is generally best done online
Are you looking for current news sources?
OxLIP+ provides access to two key current news services:
- Factiva Covers local and national newspapers worldwide, enables you to search for a news topic across many publications
- Nexis UK International coverage, enables you to search for a news topic across many publications
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:
- MediaUK - covers newpapers and magazines as well as other media such as television and radio
- Online newpapers is one of many sites that provides links to newspapers worldwide including many local papers. This is a directory site - you cannot search for news topics.
- Google News UK - stories from English language news sources world wide
Are you looking for historic news sources?
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:
- British Newspapers 1600-1900
- Guardian (1821-2003)/Observer (1791-2003)
- New York Times Historical Archive (1851-2004)
- Times Digital Archive (1785-1985)
Many Oxford University libraries, including the Rewley House Continuing Education Library, include maps in their collections. To find maps on SOLO:
- On the main SOLO screen, click on All items and select Maps
- Enter your search terms, for example:
- a place name
- 'geological' if you want a geological map
- 'ordnance survey', possibly with a place name, if you want an Ordnance Survey map
- a series name if you know it, eg 'landranger', possibly with a place name
- the sheet number if you know it, eg 'landranger 151'
- If you wish to search in a specific library, click on All libraries/collections and select the library of your choice
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.
Online/digitised maps and digital mapping
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:
- Map images from the Bodleian Library are available on the Showcase area of the Bodleian Library Map Room website
- The Bodleian Library Map Room website also provides links to other major map collections
- The British Library Online Gallery provides images from the British Library's map collection. Enter 'Maps' (or a more precise search including the word 'maps') in the search box
- British History Online includes historical Ordnance Survey maps (1:2,500 and 1:10,560 series). The historic maps can be compared with modern maps and satellite images
- Google Maps offers scaleable maps with satellite images, photos etc and enables you to create your own maps. Google Earth offers greater functionality, but requires a free software download to your PC
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.
Image resources on OxLIP+
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:
- On the main OxLIP+ screen, under Find Database click on Other options.
- Click on Select Type and select Images
- Click Go
Key resources are:
- ARTstor is a huge collection of image collections and is relevant to many subject areas beside Art. ARTstor includes tools to enable you make your own annotated image collections and view and share them in various ways and incorporate them in presentations including images from other sources. To make full use of ARTstor you will need to register for a personal account using a computer on the Oxford University network.
- Bridgeman Education. , a collection of over 300,000 images representing objects from museums, galleries and private collections, as well as buildings and monuments. .
- Visual Arts Data Service - VADS. A portfolio of image collections comprising over 100,000 images copyright cleared for educational use.
Other image sources
The following may provide some useful starting points:
- University of Oxford Digital Image Library.A gallery of digitised images from the Bodleian Libraries special collections
- Archaeology Image Bank. A resource for locating and sharing archeological images for educational use.
- Centre for Bioscience Image Bank. Similar type of resource to the Archaeology Image Bank
- British Library Images Online.The British Library's extensive collection of digitised images, browsable by subject category and fully searchable.
- Creative Commons. Creative Commons licences enable images to be used provided certain restrictions are followed. Full details are given on the website. The website also gives links to other sites where you can find images licensed under Creative Commons such as Flickr.
- JISC Digital Media. A very comprehensive site covering all forms of digital media including advice on creating and managing collections as well as locating material
Finding biographical information
Are you looking for information on SOLO?
If you are looking for books about a person on SOLO:
- Enter the person's name in the search box
- Click on anywhere in the record and select in subject
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
- farmers biography
You can also enter more specific terms, eg.
- farmers diaries
- farmers correspondence
Online biographical information resources
There are many full text online resources listed on OxLIP+. To find all biographical resources:
- On the main OxLIP+ screen, click the Subject tab
- Select Biographical resources in the box labelled Subject
- Select an option in the box labelled Sub-category and click Go
Top tips for effective searches
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:
- Plan your search
Before you begin searching, think about your search terms. Consider synonyms, alternative spellings. Some databases include a thesaurus so that you can check the term being used for your concept. Do you wish to limit your search to a geographical area? or by a time period? Are you interested in a specific type of material, eg journal articles, images?
- Which database?
When selecting a bibliographic database, check subject, geographical and date coverage; type of material included etc. When looking at resource listings on OxLIP+, click the Information symbol for a description of the resource. Once you have connected to a database, look for information provided by the database.
- Entering your search - which search box?
Many databases and search engines offer you different options for entering your search, eg 'Basic search', 'Advanced search' An 'Advanced search' is often more effective as you can construct a more precise search. A form-filling approach is often used, which guides you through the process
- Entering your search - phrases
Sometimes it is more effective to search for a phrase rather than separate key words. Some databases assume a string of words is a phrase, some give the option of specifying your term as a phrase by use of a drop down box. A common way of specifying a phrase is to use "inverted commas" around the phrase.
Look at search options, read search tips displayed on screen or look for separate help text links
- Entering your search - truncation
Using a truncation symbol will enable you to include variant endings of a word. The * asterisk symbol is commonly used. For example
histor* will find History, Historical, Histories etc.
You can also use 'wildcards' to replace one or more characters. The wildcard character is often ?.For example
wom?n will find Woman and Women
- Entering your search - combining terms
How you combine elements of your search is important. There are 3 main ways, and these underpin all searches:
A search for cats AND dogs will retrieve only records that include both terms. Using AND is a way of making your search more specific.
Some databases assume AND if you enter a string of terms. Sometimes you may need to type it into your search statement, sometimes you may have to select it from a drop down box and sometimes 'all of my terms' may be used. Check screen information and help text for your chosen databse or search engine
A search for cats OR dogs will retrieve records that include either or both terms. Using OR is a way of making your search less specific. Use OR to search for synonyms. Databases or search engines may express OR as 'any of my terms'
- AND NOT
Somtimes just NOT is used. A search for Animals AND NOT cats will retrive all records containing the term 'Animals' but will exclude all those that contain 'Cats'. NOT is a good way of making a search more specific by excluding a term or aspect of a subject.
- Use search limits
You can often limit your search in various ways, either when you first enter it or by refining the results. Common ways of limiting a search include:
- By publication date
- By language
- By type of material (eg limit to journal articles only)
- Use Help text
When using a new database, don't panic! Help text including tips on searching and search examples my be available on the actual help screen. Some provide 'Help' links which take you to context-sensitive help text. Many provide longer guides which may be searchable and printable. Some will provide online demonstrations or tutorials which you may find helpful.
If you use the tips in this section, it will help you to get familiar with the general way in which databases work. You can then use the help provided by a database to learn the specifics.