Thoroughly researching your dissertation is crucial if you want to obtain as high a mark as possible. To give you the best chances, you need to know the various places to look for dissertation resources when you’re undertaking your research.This article is your go-to guide on how to ensure your dissertation is adequately researched. Use it to help get you a step closer to the grade you’re working so hard to achieve.
Libraries and books
In this age of technology, libraries are often forgotten.
Most universities provide an online library catalogue where you can search for a book by title, author, or subject. This will open your eyes to resources that you may not have found if you’d simply browsed the shelves.
For example, for an English Literature essay analysing a text involving the subject of death, you may find useful resources in the Religious Studies section. Or you could make use of the Education section for a dissertation focusing on Child Psychology.
“Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when
researching your dissertation – this is often what
will set your work apart from others.”
Some libraries are home to additional sources that aren’t on the shelves or in the online catalogue, such as rare collections of photographs or historical diary entries. Using these resources will prove that you have gone above and beyond to adequately support your work in an imaginative and committed way. Aside from your university library, public libraries house useful and unique resources. Council-run libraries are free to enter and if you sign up for a membership card, resources are free to borrow.Museums, both local to you and nationally, can provide the knowledge and history required to make your dissertation stand out. As well as this, many museums have their own libraries and study areas, such as the British Museum. Some have extensive archives for public use, such as the British Film Institute and the Museum of London Archaeological Archive.
Bookshops are often overlooked, but they are treasure troves of valuable resources.Whether you visit a large chain like Waterstones, or find a one-off, quirky bookshop, they can provide you with resources you may not have previously considered. A simple internet search will reveal bookshops near you. But another great way of making new discoveries is to ask around for recommendations from family, friends and academic colleagues.
Online and print journals
The use of journal articles is crucial in dissertation writing.
Some are produced online, while others are printed quarterly, monthly or weekly. Your university library will hold past editions of many print journals, which you can borrow and take home. Many are available free of charge to students and can be downloaded in PDF format for use throughout your dissertation.
Drawing on information from journals will allow you to incorporate scholars’ viewpoints into your work, which you can then use as a basis for your key arguments.
Once you have visited your library website, you should see a link for ‘journals’. After clicking on it, you will see the facility to search for a title using key words or an author name, if you know it.
There will inevitably be a mix of quality when it comes to journal articles. Read them through thoroughly before taking a quote or information, as a poorly-researched article does not make for a valuable source.
Also, check for spelling and grammar. If this is poor, then that’s a good indication that the source should not be trusted. A quick Google search of the author(s) will show you whether or not they have written anything else and if they are reputable. Make sure they haven’t taken their information from unreliable sources, such as Wikipedia, which isn’t moderated and anyone can contribute to page information.
Databases are available via your library website and provide access to a variety of books, journals and other primary sources. There are databases specialising in specific subjects and they are an excellent first step towards discovering what’s available to you. Popular databases include Credo Reference, JSTOR and Westlaw.
Most universities hold a collection of dissertations by past students in your discipline. These can be useful to study, particularly at the very early stages when you’re unsure about things like structure and layout. Make sure you don’t take too much from it though, or copy the title. The aim is to be unique and innovative.
Particularly in creative subject areas, audio-visual material is invaluable.Sources such as films, television programmes, radio interviews, podcasts and pieces of music will give your dissertation rich variety. Combining these with written sources will provide you with a strong framework and firm evidence of thorough research that goes above and beyond expectation.
Amazon and eBay
These websites sell some books for as little as one penny each, often with free and fast delivery. What’s great about them is that, with a little hunting, you could find a rare piece that wouldn’t otherwise be available in your library or as an electronic resource. Of course, what this means for your work will vary depending on the specifics of your discipline, but it’s worth a look if you don’t mind setting aside a small budget.
Some final tips…
Wherever you do your research, write down the details of any sources you use. Write them down in the same place and keep the list safe. To save yourself more time, you can type them out in whichever referencing format your dissertation calls for. This means that when it comes to completing your bibliography, you only need to check through it, tidy it up and ensure the sources are in alphabetical order.
“No matter how many resources you use, if your
dissertation is not correctly and consistently
referenced, you can easily lose marks.”
A faultless system of citation and referencing is a simple way to gain maximum marks. It demonstrates academic integrity and a firm awareness of the dangers of plagiarism.