EAP: Finding Information
Lynne Meehan and Rachel Nelligan
Room 314, UCL Science Library
Tel: 020 7679 2634 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Evaluation Form: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NGYWHH7
Finding information for course work and research takes time. Developing your information
skills will help you to find information faster and to a higher standard.
• It is possible to “speed up” the searching process by using consistent, structured ap-
proach as well as by making use of alerting services and “saved searches”
• You can improve your standard of your work by including material from a broad range
of information sources.
Where do you look?
Assignment Search engine Wikipedia Library Database
(e.g. Google) Catalogue
Writing a short -Google Scholar An overview Find a book on Look for references
assignment -Intute of your topic your topic that to journal articles if
you can use you had time to do it.
Writing a long - Google Scholar - An overview - Find a book You might try using
assignment - Intute of your topic on your topic a database of journal
- Finding - Suggested that you can articles to look for
organisations linked keywords you use what research there
to your topic can use when - Possibly find has been over the
- Political policies searching the conference last few years into
relating to your topic database's. papers or your topic.
Types of Information
Type of Information Useful for Examples
Journals Up-to-date research -Nature
Usually published monthly or developments within the -Scientific american
quarterly, and contain a field, or reports on -Science
selection of articles providing technological innovations,
details of recent research. current affairs, business
practical experience 'in the
Books Useful to provide an -Textbooks as part of your course material
Take a general approach to introduction or overview of -Knovel is our largest collection of
the subject, typically covering a topic or building on engineering books.
basic principles, facts and research published in
theories journal articles.
Web Useful for official -Intute – www.intute.ac.uk
information, specialist - Sciverse -
organisations, statistics http://www.hub.sciverse.com/action/home
Official publications Governments are involved -Directgov website provides access to a
Publications issued by the with most areas of society, wealth of government information and
government and its and there are few subjects services online.
departments. that are not covered. -Department for Business, Enterprise and
Official publications will Regulatory Reform website is a good
ultimately affect corporate example of an government website
strategy to a greater or
Reference material Looking up company facts,
Such as dictionaries, data, statistics, specialist
directories, and encyclopedia organisations and
KnowUK - http://www.knowuk.co.uk/
Oxford English Dictionary
useful for providing
specific pieces of
information (i.e. facts)
Overview of topic
Before you begin, get an overview of the topic you are researching. Especially if you are not
familiar with the topic. Good places to get an overview are:-
Encyclopedias e.g. Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia
Subject websites e.g. www.ucl.ac.uk/library/guides/subjguidehtml
This will also help choose concepts and keywords to describe your topic when searching.
Define your topic
Go through the following steps :-
Think about the question you want to answer and break it down into its broad areas or
“concepts”. You usually find that your question breaks down into a couple of areas or
Brainstorm for words and phrases associated with the major areas or concepts.
Remember to include synonyms and alternative spellings and colloquial and scientific/
-abbreviations – UK, United Kingdom
-Variations in spelling – colour, color, specialised, specialized
-Variations in terminology used in different cultures and countries – for instance,
‘children with emotional and behavioural problems’ (UK) are referred to as
‘maladjusted children’ in the US. This will help to ensure that you find things that
an author might have referred to using different terms.
But don't worry if you can't always find any sensible substitutes for the words you have
chosen – there might not be any.
Are there any grographical or date limitations you need to build in to our search? (e.g.
are you looking for the worldwide or european perspective? Are you interested in his-
torical or very current materials?.
The process may help you decide what you don’t want to investigate as well as what you do –
saving you time when deciding what to read and what not to read.
In groups discuss the topic “Greener city transport” and write down the main “Concepts”
and brainstorm for alternatice words and phrases to describe the concepts.
• If you want an online database or search engine to understand you, you need to speak
its language. That's why syntax - the way you put your search terms together - mat-
• Since syntax can vary between databases and search engines, you should refer to the
Boolean determines how multiple search terms are combined in a search. Two common
connectors are and, or. Sometimes symbols are used instead of words, i.e. + or –
Boolean logic – USING OR Boolean logic – using AND
Useful for combining a search on the same concept Useful for combining different concepts
Sustainable AND Transport
Green OR Sustainable
Only get results
Results will contain either term mentioned
Nesting: The order in which search engines execute your commands is not always obvious.
You can use round brackets ( ) to control the search sequence.
• Example: the search term transport and (green or sustainable) will find documents that
contain one of the words in brackets -i.e. green or sustainable – but only if they also
contain the word transport.
Phrase searching: Some databases will treat two or more words entered into the search box
as a phrase, while others require you to place a phrase in double quotation marks “”.
• Example: "sustainable transport” will only find documents where the whole phrase is
Truncation: Most databases allow end of word truncation, using one character, such as an
asterisk *, to replace the remaining letters.
• Example: transport* will find documents containing transprt, transported, transporting
'Wild cards': Wild cards are characters, such as a question mark, ?, used to replace replace
a single letter in the middle of a word. They are used to accommodate spelling variations.
• Example: wom?n will find woman and women; organi?ation will retrieve organization
Proximity operators: locate terms that are close to one another. One such proximity
operator is w/#, which you can use to find two words that are # number of pages apart.
• Example: sustainable w/3 transport will find documents where sustainable and trans-
port occur within three words of one another, in either order.
Searching specific fields: Field searching allows you to designate where to search for a
specific term. Sometimes there is a drop-down menu to select the field, at other times a field
'qualifier' is added to the search term, such as Smith:au or Smith in au
To find a book that you know the author and/or title of:
Use the Quick search
Enter the author surname and key words from the title
No need for diacritic marks like commas
To find books on a particular subject:
Type in your chosen key words into the search box e.g. Sustainable transport
By clicking on the blue “Library site” links on the right hand side of the “Results List” page
you can see which UCL Library the book is kept in as well as:-
‘Item status’ = how long the book can be borrowed for
‘Due date’ = displays as “Available” if it isn’t out on loan
‘Location’ = where it is shelved
The Science Library has its own scheme for arranging books on the shelves. A typical
Engineering location (or classmark) looks like this: ENGINEERING QQ 5 DOR . This is the
classmark for Bioprocess engineering principles / Pauline M. Doran, where:
ENGINEERING is the book collection;
QQ 5 is the classification (all books with QQ 5 are about Biochemical Engineering);
DOR is the first three letters of the author's surname.
Use the Quick search
Type in the words you know e.g. Transport policy
Select “All journals”
Click on “Search”
Click on the (copies/on loan) link for location information, or, if available electronically,
click on the SFX link to go the full text
TIP: The library catalogue only lists which journals UCL has, and does not list the
individual articles within those journals, therefore when looking for journal articles
ONLY look up the FULL NAME OF THE JOURNAL on the Library catalogue
SFX is a tool to link all UCL electronic library resources, including the catalogue and
databases, straight to the full text of journal articles and books.
For more information on finding journals please look at the UCL Library Services leaflet
“Finding journals” available to download from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/prints.shtml.
In which library would you find the book “Sustainable transport strategy” by Brian Madge and
Jeff Wilson and what is the shelf location?
Your library record
Click on “My account” (on the top tool bar).
Enter your barcode – the 10-digit number located on your UCL ID card.
Enter your PIN number which will be the first 4 digits of your date of birth, DDMM – not
the year, just the date/month.
Click on ‘Sign-in’. Your name should now be displayed at the top of the screen, with a
list of books on loan, reservations, etc.
Always click the “Reset” option (located at the top right-hand corner) after looking at
your personal information, so that no one else can see your personal details or borrow
books using your account.
TIP: Renewing books – when you have borrowed any books from a UCL library, it is
possible to renew your books yourself from within your personal record – select
‘loans’ followed by ‘renew’. You are not able to renew if you owe the library more than
£20 or if your books are reserved by other library members.
For an online tutorial on the library catalogue, go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/moodle, log in,
click on WISE, and select Engineering and the Built Environment.
Knovel is an interactive e-book and database package which gives searchable access to the
full text of a range of text and reference books. It covers all aspects of engineering and
applied science. Link to Knovel from the Library’s databases list:
You can search for terms within all of the subscribed titles or browse the available re-
sources by navigating through the subject areas.
For help with using Knovel, see section 3 of WISE (Finding information): go to
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/moodle, log in, click on WISE, and select Engineering and the
The web is a useful source of information but it is quite unlike library catalogues and
databases in that it isn't so neatly organised and varies greatly in quality and usefulness.
Below are some ideas to try and improve your web searching.
Google is not the only search engine, try
Also look at Internet Gateways
Intute – www.intute.ac.uk
Remember to evaluate the web site to ensure it is information you can trust using PROMPT
P = Presentation: Look at layout, language and structure
R = Relevance: Is it relevant to your topic
O = Objectivity: Do you know the authors position on the issue? Is the language emotive?
M= Method: For research reports only is the clear and appropriate
P= Provenance: Can you identify the authors or organisation?
T= Timeliness: Is it dated? Is the information updated regularly? Does the date meet
Try one of the websites above and search for sustainable transport. Note down 2
useful websites you found
A database is a way of storing, indexing, organising and retrieving information
The specialised databases we can use to search for references to journal articles are called
'bibliographic' databases (because they contain information in summary form about books
and journal articles). They are electronic indexes to the contents of thousands of journals.
They are a very quick means of accessing thousands of references to academic material.
Some databases have a very narrow focus, while others contain information on many topics.
Select a database that is appropriate for your topic - see the subject guides
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/guides/subjguide.shtml or browse the list of databases
MetaLib is a gateway to a range of electronic resources relevant to users of UCL Library
Services. It can be used to identify resources relevant to a particular area of research or
study, and it can be used to search groups of these resources in one search. For information
Use MetaLib when you want to develop a quick overview of a subject or to conduct an
introductory search of one or more electronic resources. It can also help you to identify
relevant resources in specific subject areas. For more complex searches use the
individual interfaces of each electronic resource as mentioned above.
Go to the library website www.ucl.ac.uk/library
Click on Electronic Resources
Click on Metalib
Click on “Go to Metalib” link
Click on the “Login Here” link and enter your UCL userid and password at the sign-on
Enter search e.g Sustainable transport
Change subject to “Engineering”
The search summary screen shows the status of your search as it proceeds. Searches are
completed at different speeds for different resources.
When all the searches have completed, you will be taken to a new results window. Only the
top 10 results from each resource will be shown.
For individual results, you can:
• Use the SFX button to locate the full text
• Save the record to “My Metalib” by clicking on the + icon.
• Email or save the record, from within the Full View, by clicking on envelope or disk icons
MetaLib offers a number of personalization features associated with your login. These allow you to save sets of
records, create favourite lists of resources, and set up regular alerts based on previous searches.
Records which you save from your results lists are stored in your eShelf (available within “My Metalib”). It will be
empty until you have added some records from your searches.
To add records from your results list click on the + sign.
To see them on your eShelf click on My Metalib and your eShelf is the first list you see.
From this screen you can select records to email to yourself, tick the boxes next to the records you want
to email and click on “email/save selected”
In the new window click on email, enter your email details and click email. Check your email account to
see the results
TASK 4 : Use Metalib to search for Sustainable Transport. Try searching General resources
and Engineering resources. Which produces more relevant results? Save three records that
look useful. Email those records to yourself.
SFX icon can be used in most databases to check journal holdings at
UCL and other universities. Use the drop down menu in SFX to search across library
catalogues with COPAC or ULS
Links to nearby university libraries at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/otherlib.shtml
Books and journal articles not held at UCL or local libraries can be requested via inter-
library loan: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/ill.shtml
Citing your Sources
It is important to include references in your work in order to indicate that you have used
relevant information resources, to avoid plagiarism and to allow readers of your work to be
able to find the information sources for themselves. You should remember to list all the
details of the books/journals that you consult so that you can reference them correctly.
Failure to cite your sources constitutes plagiarism and you may be penalised!
Citing acknowledging within your piece of work the source from which you
Reference full details of the source from which you obtained your information.
Bibliography a list of the references you have used, usually placed at the end of your
There are two main citation styles called Harvard and Vancouver. Find out which one is
preferred by your department
Make systematic notes of all the results you find. You need to know Author, Title or Article and
Title of source publication, Date of Publication, Publisher, Place of Publication, Volumes and
issue numbers. Remember you can usually email these details to yourself from the
Also note the content, when it comes to writing up it is easy to forget what information you
found in all the references you are using, so when you make a note of the publication details
also note down which part of your essay it is useful for and the main points the book or article
For help with citing sources,
See section 5 of WISE (Working with information): go to
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/moodle, log in, click on WISE, and select Engineering and the
Read Neville, C. (2008). Complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism. Milton
Keynes: Open UP held at MEDICAL SCIENCES A 9 NEV (2nd floor) and GEO-
GRAPHY A 9 NEV (1st floor)
Try Internet detective - http://www.vts.intute.ac.uk/detective/
Library guide to references, citations and avoiding plagiarism available online at http://
and at enquiry desks
Go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/current-students/guidelines/policies/plagiarism for more
Access to electronic resources
UCL users are advised to access resources through the lists of ejournals
(http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/ejournal) and databases
(http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/database) available on MetaLib. This will guarantee that you
get free access to all the resources to which you are entitled as a UCL member. If you are on-
site you will not need to log in to resources. If you are off-site, you will be prompted for your
UCL userid and password automatically. For more information on access to e-resources, visit
Library website http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/
WISE: go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/moodle, log in, click on WISE, and select your
faculty or WISE for beginners.
Science Enquiry Desk: located on the ground floor of the Science Library.
Telephone on ext. 37789 or 020 7679 7789.
Lynne Meehan (science subject librarian) contact me on email@example.com or
020 7679 2634 or come and see me in Room 314, Science Library, or contact your
subject librarian (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/who.shtml)
Links to slides and resources used in this course:
TASK 5: Evaluation
Please fill in the evaluation form about your session at