Finding and using information

R20–0676 BIOL20302 ASYNC Only

Learning outcomes

  • Identify an appropriate tool to use finding information for your specific purpose;
  • Identify and use key databases in your discipline;
  • Identify and use relevant specialist information in your discipline;
  • Develop an awareness of a wide range of information sources available to use in academic work;
  • Develop strategies for assessing the appropriateness of sources to use in your assignments;
  • Discriminate between good-quality academic sources and other sources.

Suggested online resources

Planning ahead: making your search work

Knowing where to look: your search toolkit

Finding the good stuff: evaluating your sources

Know your sources: types of information

Getting results: guides to searching databases

Being critical: thinking, reading and writing critically

Session content (please embed from here):

Introduction

This resource has been created to help you find high quality information for your project. We’ll look at a range of sources of information and the ways you can critically evaluate the information you find. Let’s start by asking “where do you usually go to find information?”

ACTIVITY: Where do you go to find information?

Add your answers to the Menti question 1.

<div style=’position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; padding-top: 35px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;’><iframe sandbox=’allow-scripts allow-same-origin allow-presentation’ allowfullscreen=’true’ allowtransparency=’true’ frameborder=’0' height=’315' src=’https://www.mentimeter.com/embed/2817c5244145c970f1e8e557f4625d0f/3b932eba5e7e' style=’position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;’ width=’420'></iframe></div>

Read some of the suggestions from your classmates. Are there any information sources you haven’t used before? We’ll be covering some of these sources in more detail in this resource.

Your topic

Have your topic in mind when working through this content and apply the principles and strategies to your topic. Throughout this content I will be using an example topic:

“How has contraception affected women’s role in society?”

Before we start searching we need to break down our topic or question into its key terms or ideas. You wouldn’t usually get good results by simply copying and pasting your question into your search tool, so what terms or ideas would you search for?

ACTIVITY: What are the key terms or ideas in our topic?

Add your ideas to the Menti question 2.

<div style=’position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; padding-top: 35px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;’><iframe sandbox=’allow-scripts allow-same-origin allow-presentation’ allowfullscreen=’true’ allowtransparency=’true’ frameborder=’0' height=’315' src=’https://www.mentimeter.com/embed/2817c5244145c970f1e8e557f4625d0f/3b932eba5e7e' style=’position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;’ width=’420'></iframe></div>

Once we have identified our key terms and ideas it can be very useful to think about how other people might describe those ideas by thinking about synonyms and related concepts. For example, if I was looking for information about an average rise in temperatures across the world I might search for “global warming”. Another author might write a paper about the same topic but use the term “climate change” instead. If I was interested in information from the field of politics I might find the idea described as the “climate crisis”. I want to find information that uses any of these terms. Let’s apply this idea to our topic and the key terms and ideas we’ve identified.

ACTIVITY: What synonyms and related concepts can you think of?

Add your ideas to the Menti questions 3 and 4.

<div style=’position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; padding-top: 35px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;’><iframe sandbox=’allow-scripts allow-same-origin allow-presentation’ allowfullscreen=’true’ allowtransparency=’true’ frameborder=’0' height=’315' src=’https://www.mentimeter.com/embed/2817c5244145c970f1e8e557f4625d0f/3b932eba5e7e' style=’position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;’ width=’420'></iframe></div>

Collecting and combining your search terms

It’s worth spending a little time writing down the key terms and related ideas that you have thought of. You might do this as a bubble diagram, with each key term in its own bubble and all of the related ideas linked to it. Or you might write it down in a table, with each key term having its own column. Whatever works for you!

The next step is to think about how we combine our search terms when we put them into our database or search tool. There are two main ways to combine our terms: ‘OR’ and ‘AND’:

  • We use ‘OR’ to combine terms that are of a related concept. Using our example we might search for ‘contraception OR birth control OR family planning’. This returns results which feature any of those terms.
  • We use ‘AND’ to combine different concepts together. Using our example we might search for ‘contraception AND women’s roles’. This returns results which feature both of those terms.

Most databases allow you to do both at the same time, so you could search for:

(contraception OR birth control OR family planning) AND (women’s roles OR women’s rights OR careers)

I’ll ask you to have a go at doing this when we look at different databases.

Sources of information

Once we’ve come up with our search terms and how to combine them we need to think about sources of information that will help us to answer our question or support our argument.

PLEASE EMBED SOURCE EVALUATION 1.0

Let’s apply all of this to our example question.

ACTIVITY: What information sources would help you to answer our ‘contraception’ question?

Add your ideas to the Menti question 5.

<div style=’position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; padding-top: 35px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;’><iframe sandbox=’allow-scripts allow-same-origin allow-presentation’ allowfullscreen=’true’ allowtransparency=’true’ frameborder=’0' height=’315' src=’https://www.mentimeter.com/embed/2817c5244145c970f1e8e557f4625d0f/3b932eba5e7e' style=’position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;’ width=’420'></iframe></div>

PLEASE EMBED SOURCE EVALUATION 2.0

PLEASE EMBED SOURCE EVALUATION 2.2

PLEASE EMBED SOURCE EVALUATION 2.4

PLEASE EMBED SOURCE EVALUATION 2.5

Databases and search tools

Now that you have identified the types of information you are looking for and how you might evaluate them we can look at where we can find information. In this section we will look at tools that can help us to find scholarly information sources, such as journal articles. We’ll look at getting more out of search tools you’ve probably used before and then look at some tools you might not have come across. We’ll consider the Library’s Special Collections, how to access them and why you might use them in your project. We’ll finally touch on where you can find non-scholarly sources such as newspapers and films/broadcasts through the Library.

Library Search

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 2–2.3

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 2.6

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 2.7

Google Scholar

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 3.0

Subject databases

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 1.0

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 1.1

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 1.2

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 1.4

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 1.6 (please can the link in the activity be changed to: https://subjects.library.manchester.ac.uk/socialanthropology/databases/)

PLEASE EMBED FINDING INFORMATION 1.7

ACTIVITY: Choose a subject database and try searching by combining terms with ‘OR’ and ‘AND’ as outlined previously.

Special Collections

“The University of Manchester Library is ranked second in the UK and globally within the top five university special collections; in a number of fields it is world leading.”

The Library’s Special Collections is full of amazing things — from the oldest known fragment of the New Testament to the Manchester Medical Collection to the computing records during Alan Turing’s time at the University. Within the collections are documents, records and manuscripts which may have never been studied, meaning you could be the first person to include them in your research!

You can find out more about our on our website:

To learn about how critical analysis can help you to incorporate special collections into your research read the MLE Blog, Using Special Collections in your work:

Popular sources through the Library

The Library specialises in providing access to the highest quality scholarly sources. We also provide access to some popular sources such as newspapers, broadcasts and films.

In our Newspapers guide you’ll find tools allowing you to search across UK and international news titles.

PLEASE EMBED THE HELP AND SUPPORT AND FEEDBACK BITS

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