Project Management Research Methods

R20–0699 MACE60050

Library for Educators
6 min readFeb 10, 2022

Supporting Materials

  • Slides: Slides
  • Other materials: mentimeter

Learning Outcomes

  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different search tools
  • Identify an appropriate tool to use for finding information for your specific purpose
  • Develop an awareness of a wide range of information sources to use in academic work
  • 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
  • Shopping for information: introducing subject databases
  • Finding the good stuff: evaluating your sources
  • Know your sources: types of information
  • Search operators: refine AND combine OR NOT?
  • Know your sources: types of information


Introduce self and the session. This session will give students the chance to try different searching strategies useful in finding information. Ask students to prepare their phones, tablets, laptops etc., which they will use throughout the session.

Activity: ask students to use mentimeter to list any difficulties they have come across while searching for information for assessments so far. (This activity is designed to gauge student knowledge and mirror agenda-setting).

Direct Instruction: (Slide 3) Discuss outline of the session and relate these to student menti comments where appropriate.
- Understanding sources — what types of sources you will come across, how you can tell what is what and thinking about when different sources may be more relevant/appropriate than others.
- Planning your search — importance of taking time to establish your plan / approach
- outline different searching strategies and have the opportunity to practice and use these yourselves.

Direct Instruction: (Slide 4). Relate the importance of taking the time to plan your information search carefully before driving straight in. This will save time, energy and stress in the long run! Outline three step plan on the slide as a tried and tested method to plan your search.
WHAT — am I looking for?
WHERE — will I look for it
HOW — will I look for it

We will go through the steps one-by-one across the rest of the session. Students will have the opportunity to practice different steps across this plan. We will start with the WHAT.

Direct Instruction: (Slide 5–6) Explain that there is a wealth of different sources of information that can be used when researching a new topic. Before starting any assessment, it is important to take some time to consider what types of sources you will use. Slide 6 can be used to introduce the different types of sources students can use.

Direct Instruction: [Academic had noted student confusion between conference paper/proceeding/journal article]. Use this slide to articulate the difference.

Direct Instruction: (Slides 7–10) Different source types have different strengths and weaknesses. Before using any source, it is important to carefully evaluate its reliability, objectivity and relevance.

Activity: (Slide 11). Knowing more about different types of sources can make evaluating their reliability, objectivity and relevance slightly easier. Ask students to load menti page to take part in a quiz that will test their knowledge of different source types and jargon/terms associated with academic texts.

Direct Instruction: (Slides 12–14) Discuss the importance of collecting bibliographic information when using a source and how becoming familiar with different elements can help identify what type of source it may be. Highlight that support is available through online resources and SLS to help with referencing.

Direct Instruction: (Slides 15) WHERE. There are many different options and places you can use to look for resources and reading materials. Three places we would recommend for their reliability and accessibility are:
1) Library Search
2) Google Scholar
3) Subject databases

Direct Instruction: (Slides 16–17) Ask for a show of hands for how many students have used Library Search.
Library search will show/give you access to all the resources the University has. Discuss how/where library search can be found. Encourage students to bookmark the page on their browser.
Outline advantages of of Library Search.

Direct Instruction: (Slides 18–20) Ask for a show of hands for how many students have used Google Scholar.
Likely familiar with Google or similar search engine. Google Scholar is the academic version of Google and can be very useful for finding sources.
Outline pros and cons of Google Scholar.

Direct Instruction: (Slides 21–23) Ask for a show of hands for how many students have used their Subject Pages.
Subject Pages are a great place to start when research for a new topic. It collates all the different pages and places you can search for resources. The subject databases listed here are particularly useful. Each of these databases will contain different types of resources (use the small descriptions to see what each focuses on). You may find that different databases are useful for different assignments.

Direct Instruction: (Slides 25–26) The next part of our searching plan to look at is HOW. For this, we will look at three different strategies you can use to find resources. The three strategies we will look at are:
1) Alternative search terms
2) Boolean operators
3) The citation trail

I will briefly explain what all of these strategies are and how they work. They you will have a chance to use and practice each in turn.

Direct Instruction: (Slides 27) The first strategy focuses on expanding the terms you can search for to help generate more results. This has three main steps: identifying the key words in your assignment title, thinking of synonyms and alternate terms for those words, considering different spellings and endings.

Activity: (Slides 28–29) Ask students to call out what they think are the important key terms from the practice assessment title. Feedback that if you only used these terms to search for literature you could potential miss important works that would be useful. Use Slides 30–31 to highlight the importance of thinking of alternatives to the original key words.

Activity: (Slides 33–34) Ask students to use mentimeter to share alternatives to the keywords in the next example question. Ask for at least 2/3 from each student/group.

Direct Instruction: (Slides 35–36) The second strategy we have is called Boolean operators. This strategy allows us to use the different synonyms and alternative phrases we thought systematically. Three main operators are: 1) OR 2) AND 3) NOT. Putting these into your search will allow you to gain either more or less search results, depending on what you want or need.

As you can see from this slide (slide 35), Boolean operators allow you to combine and exclude terms together in your search. You can use a mix of combinations to find the right fit. Demonstrate how to use Boolean operators in Library Search / Google Scholar

Activity: Ask students to have a go at using Boolean terms with their own search terms from the previous task or with terms related to their own topic. Students should upload names of articles/books etc. they find on menti.

Direction Instruction: (Slide 38) The third strategy we are going to look at his following the citation trail. This is very useful once you have already found a small number of resources. Allow you to let the reading you have already found do the work for you. With the citation trail you can either go back or forwards. Go backwards if you want to find older work / go forwards if you wanted to find newer work. When using this strategy it is just as important to look for recurring author names and/or journal names. These can help you identify important researchers/publishers, which you can then also search.

Demonstrate how to use Cited By button on Google Scholar.

Activity: Ask students to search for one of the articles they have found in previous tasks on Google Scholar and then use the ‘Cited by’ button to find more related results. Students should share 1/2 article names they find on mentimeter.

Direct Instruction: (Slides 41–48) Wrap up and highlight further sources of support, with a focus on drop-ins. Reinforce the fact that our research has shown students who whose MLE are more likely to get a first.



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