• Are you finding it a struggle to find useful information for your coursework?
  • Do you wish you could prevent any distractions and focus on your searching?
  • Perhaps you’ve already made your tenth trip to your fridge, biscuit tin or coffee machine and it’s barely even midday yet…

If you can relate to any of this, you’ll be happy to know that we’re now running a new Searching Together session online!

Searching Together is a focused searching session where you can come together for a fixed amount of time to search for information. The aim isn’t to put pressure on you to be productive, but rather to help you set aside some dedicated time to learn some useful search strategies, find the high quality information you need and have the chance to connect with other students in a virtual space.

It’s a great way to make progress on your assignments, literature review or dissertation.

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How to prepare for the session

To get the most out of the session it’s important that you spend a little bit of time thinking beforehand.

Step 1: Take your topic or research question and “highlight” the key words or ideas.

Example search topic: Evaluate the impact of pollution on wildlife in China during the last decade

Step 2: Identify the ways that other researchers might describe these ideas by identifying synonyms and related concepts:

  • Synonyms are words that have the same meaning. For example, instead of ‘funny’ we might say ‘humorous’, ‘hilarious’ or ‘amusing’.
  • Related concepts are different terms for a similar idea. For example, ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ might not mean exactly the same thing but both are used to talk about a global increase in temperature.

Possible synonyms/ related concepts for the example search topic: contamination; air pollution; climate change; fauna; animals; Chinese; Sino.

Download our template and replace the example with your own topic, keywords and synonyms/related concepts.

It’s essential to carry out the pre-session task before you attend the Searching together session to get the most out of the session!

This session is all about finding good quality sources on your topic. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your work with other students and ask questions.

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What happens during a Searching Together session?

Our Searching Together sessions run over two hours, structured with intervals for searching and breaks. To help you maintain focus, a modified version of the Pomodoro time management technique is used.

After a brief outline of the session, the facilitator will introduce a search strategy that the attendees will be able to apply across 3 different resources, Library Search, Google Scholar and a Library database. The timed searching sessions will be for 20 minute intervals, separated by 10 minute breaks.

Initially, all attendees will have their audio muted to allow the facilitators to introduce the session, however during the breaks you’ll have the opportunity to join ‘breakout rooms’ to chat with other attendees about your searching strategy and the useful (or not!) resources that you have found, or anything else you feel like sharing.

You can choose whether you’d like to share your video or not, and if you don’t feel like socialising, you’re free to stretch your legs or make a cup of tea during the breaks!

After the searching intervals, the facilitator will briefly wrap up the session.

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How will attending a Searching Together session help me?

Structuring your searching time using the Pomodoro technique reduces the impact of interruptions on your search time. Its easy to for any of us to get distracted and the scheduled breaks will help you to maintain focus. If you’re somebody that gets stuck in their searching, the Pomodoro technique can help you to work in a way that’s more sustainable across a working day.

If you’re concerned about time management or feeling overwhelmed, attending a Searching Together session can relieve some pressure by having the searching intervals and breaks already chosen for you!

By working on searching a number of resources over several intervals, you can focus on getting something done, finding the high quality information for your studies. The breaks can help avoid frustration as you can step away from the search for a bit and then start your search on a new resource.

Also, searching for useful articles and books can feel like quite a difficult task, so joining a Searching Together session offers you the opportunity to connect with other students and find out their tips and strategies.

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How can I sign up?

For our online Searching Together sessions it is essential to book in advance. This is to allow the Zoom link for the workshop to be sent out a day before it is due to take place.

Please register here: Searching Together

On the day, you’ll need:

  1. Your search topic/ assignment title and the search terms you are using to find information. If you are struggling to define your search terms then you will find the following resource useful:

Planning ahead: Making your search work

2. Zoom video conferencing software on your laptop or device to let you join the session

3. A cup of tea or coffee, and biscuits for the break (optional!)

We hope to see you there!

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Support before and after the session

Check out the My Learning Essentials webpage to find more online resources tailored for University of Manchester students.

We’ve also got a set of resources introducing search strategies and key sources of information, so why not have a look and try one out in Searching Together?

Access the links below to explore further.

My Learning Essentials

My Learning Essentials

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