Dissertations: your literature review
1 hour session with activities
(R18–0417) — MCEL60021
- Group: anything up to around 50 students
- Room: anything appropriate to the group size
- Discipline: any, can be tailored
- Level: UG/PGT, any stage
- Powerpoint slides
- Flip charts and pens
- Identify an appropriate tool to use for finding information for your specific purpose
- Identify and use key databases in your discipline
- Identify and use relevant specialist information common in your discipline
- Distinguish between types of reading for different purposes
- Effectively plan and manage assignments, projects and other pieces of work
Suggested online resources:
- Start to finish: Dissertations
- Start to finish: Referencing
- Note making: capturing what counts
- Finding the good stuff: evaluating your sources
- Knowing where to look: your search toolkit
Session outline: (slides 1 and 2)
- Building a search strategy
- Finding and accessing information
- Your training support : My Learning Essentials
- Endnote online
What, Where and How (slide 3)
This slide is introduced to provide focus for the rest of the session — it is important to emphasise here that the What you are looking for and the Where you are looking for it and How you are going to find it are useful ways to approach searching for information.
Activity 1: Group/Pair activity — What do you see? (slide 4)
Facilitator shows a picture of a selection of veggies and fruit and asks the pairs to write down everything that they see on the page.
This activity is designed to get students thinking about all the different words that they can use to search for information on their topic.
What am i looking for? (slide 5) students are asked to think about what they are looking for and following on from this is a breakdown of the processes you can use to find relevant quality information on the library resources.
Taking a systematic approach (slide 6)
This introduces the next activity about why its important to be systematic when you are looking for information for your studies.
Dissertation topic titles (slide 7)
This slide provides 4 examples of topic questions that they can use to find information in the next practical part.
- Factors that contribute to consumer decision-making with regards to herbal based products.
Activity 2: Planning your search — Traffic light approach (slides 8 and 9)
The groups are next asked to use the Terms they might want (yellow) and terms that they definitely want (green).
TIP — If you don’t have red, yellow or green pens then ask them to cross out for red, write a question mark for yellow and a tick for green.
This activity is designed to get students refining their search terms so that they only using the specific ones they need to quickly find relevant information.
What am I looking for? — Search strategy (slide 10)
This is a filler slide to introduce the what types of information they need to look for.
Different types of information (slide 11)
This slide us used to talk about the different types of information that the students can access using the Library resources.
Activity 3: Mentimeter Quiz (slide 12)
At this point they only answer the first question — Where do you currently look for information?
How to access information (slide 13 to 18)
This section of the presentation introduces the cohort to the key resources for their subject. Explain that it is important to use a wide range of resources. formation you need you will need to use a range of sources. Library Search, the subject guide, subject database are introduced and their uses outlined to the cohort when locating information for their dissertation.
- Library Search
Key access point for information, easy to use and locate relevant information — i emphasise that its important to use the advanced search option to refine the results and increase relevance.
- Your subject guide
2nd key access point for information — all your resources in one place. I emphasise that all subjects taught at the University of Manchester have a subject guide and that they can find specific databases for their subject.
- Your subject databases
Here I emphasise that its important to not search in isolation e.g. never use one resource to find information. In a comprehensive search the student should use a wide range of resources in order to find relevant and high quality articles for their studies.
- Google Scholar
3rd key access point for information — In addition to the library resources they should also use Google Scholar. I ask them if they use it as a key resource and there are always some that hold their hands up. I emphasise here the nature of Google Scholar and its access to information that we don’t necessarily have in the library such as pre-prints, research material and grey literature.
How will I look for information? (slide 19)
This is a filler slide which leads on to a practical search session.
Activity 4: Searching with your keywords (slide 20)
In this activity the students are tasked with finding 3 articles that are relevant to their dissertation using the techniques and resources outlined in this session.
Lets start searching (slide 21)
The students are divided into three groups and allocated either using Library Search, Subject databases and Google Scholar to find information. I generally give the students 10–15 minutes for this activity.
Discussion (slide 22)
Ask the 3 groups to feed back on the success of the searches and quality of the information they found on their allocated resource.
Gathering search terms together (slide 19–21)
The presenter talks about using OR, AND, NOT to refine a search.
Consider (slide 23)
This introduces a reflective element, encouraging the students to think about their searching strategy.
My Learning Essentials: Blackboard (slides 24 to 25)
These slides refer to the support that is available in the students Blackboard space, My Learning Essentials workshops and shows specific examples that they will find particularly useful e.g. Start to Finish Dissertations.
Activity 5: Mentimeter Quiz (slide 26)
At this point they are reintroduced to Menti and are asked a number of questions about what they have learnt in the session such as:
- Where will they now search for information?
- Can you trust the information you find?
- Why should you only use resources from “trusted” sources for your dissertation?
These questions are testing on them on the information in the session and also asking them to think about evaluating the information they find — being critical of the information and not just accepting it at face value.
What next? (slide 27)
This gives the students a number of tasks that they can carry out after the session to give their searching more focus.
What if I am still stuck? (slide 28)
This reminds the students that they can get support in our 1 to 1’s at the AGLC and the Main Library and through our MLE service.
Thank you for listening and happy writing! (slide 29)
R19–0594, R18–0417, MCEL60021