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How to research for your essay Rachel Haworth, SMLC Rachel Myers, Library.

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Presentation on theme: "How to research for your essay Rachel Haworth, SMLC Rachel Myers, Library."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to research for your essay Rachel Haworth, SMLC Rachel Myers, Library

2 University Library Aims  Find the most efficient ways to identify relevant and useful material for essay topics:  Frame your ‘research questions’ on the basis of your essay title  Find suitable websites for your topic  Search for relevant materials using library catalogue  Search for journal articles using bibliographic databases

3 University Library TYPES OF ESSAY QUESTION 1.Description [Define, describe, outline, explain, state, summarise, present] 2.Discussion [Analyse, examine, explore, comment, illustrate, account for, consider] 3.Evaluation [Evaluate, justify, comment on, to what extent] 4.Comparison [Compare, contrast, differentiate, distinguish] ** Essay questions often combine two of these tasks**

4 University Library Glossing the question Example: To what extent was nationalist discourse during the First World War a product of pre-existing French political and/or cultural ideas? Illustrate your answer with examples taken from nationalist texts and/or images. Gloss (verb): to comment upon, explain, interpret

5 University Library Rephrasing the question  To what extent was nationalist discourse during the First World War a product of pre- existing French political and/or cultural ideas?  Did WW1 nationalist discourse come from pre-existing ideas? Or not?  Essays often have a for/against structure – i.e. yes it did come from pre-existing ideas [= I agree with the statement]…BUT it changed in WW1[ = I disagree with the statement]

6 University Library Now have a look at your essay title (in pairs…) 1.What kind of question is it? (Description, Discussion, Evaluation, Comparison) 2.Is it a quotation followed by ‘discuss’? Gloss the quotation, and think about a possible answer based on agreeing/disagreeing with the statement. 3.Rephrase your question. Is it asking for a for/against (agree/disagree) structure?

7 University Library Starting your research Where do we look for sources when researching an essay question? 1.The web 2.Reading lists 3.Other bibliographies 4.Electronic databases

8 University Library Using the web  What are the pros and cons of using the web (with search engines such as Google) to do research for your essay?

9 University Library Web searches  Try Googling your essay topic. Approximately how many of the hits look useful? Is this an efficient way of conducting research for your essay?  Way of filtering/refining your searches:

10 University Library Evaluating websites. Questions to ask: 1.Is it a personal webpage? Is it from a reliable source, such as an educational site (.edu or.ac.uk) Why has it been written? 2.Who wrote the page? Are they an expert? What are their qualifications/credentials? 3.Is the page dated? Is the information up-to- date? 4.Is it scholarly – i.e. are there footnotes or links to other credible sources?

11 University Library Wikipedia  What are the pros and cons of this type of source for doing research for an essay at university level?

12 University Library Using bibliographies  How do you know what to read?  Think about using.. Index Introductions of edited volumes Footnotes Bibliographies Electronic databases …to build up/refine your bibliographies

13 University Library Finally….quoting and plagiarism  Take detailed notes, including page numbers, for referencing in your essays  Be careful about plagiarism. This is NEVER acceptable.  Beware of being too reliant on a limited number of sources, even if you are not directly plagiarising.


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