Essential search skills and resources

Essential search skills and resources

If you need help to search effectively, refresh your search skills or locate quality resources this guide is for you.

For subject specific help and resources including key databases access your subject guide.

How can I improve my search skills? What do I do if my results are too many or too few?

Different search techniques are available to help you search smarter, for example, search operators AND, OR, NOT, phrase searching, truncation, wildcard and proximity operators. Our Search Skills Guide provides help on using relevant search techniques to improve how you search and find more targeted and relevant results.

If our guide hasn’t answered your question on search skills or you need more help contact your Librarian.

Where can I find company and industry information?

If you are writing about companies, industries or products you will need to find information which you cannot get in journal articles or text books. For example industry sector reports can provide you with a detailed and recent overview of a business sector, vital for putting your topic into context. Information on individual companies can be found on company websites. However, for more detailed and impartial information, try using company profiles which are available from several databases. The Company and Industry guide will show you how.

What is grey literature and how do I find it?

Grey literature can be any type of information which is not commercially published. This covers a wide range of information e.g. conference papers, policy documents, reports and theses. Searching for grey literature can be difficult and as it can be semi or unpublished information it is important to evaluate it for purpose and relevance.

For more details, including further examples and where to search for grey literature use our guide.

How do I find and use images?

Using a picture, image or diagram may be a required element or can visually enhance your assignment or course work. Finding images can be easy but it is important you have permission to use them. If you do have permission ensuring you attribute and/or reference them correctly is essential. Use our Finding Images guide which includes links to good quality image sources, including Creative Commons and Open education resources (OERs).

Our Harvard Referencing guide provides guidance on referencing images, graphs and tables.

Where can I find information on news sources, TV programmes and sound archives?

Newspapers are primary sources for social science students, providing historical data, insights into society and social movements as well as personal attitudes and opinions.

Journalism and media students can also use newspapers and news programmes for textual analysis and to track how the reporting of news stories changes through time. TV dramas and feature films can be a source of inspiration to screen writing and games design students, as well as a source of entertainment for all. The newspapers, television and sound archives guide is your starting point.

I need to find statistics. Can you recommend reliable resources?

Statistics, data and figures are useful to back up ideas, opinions and provide evidence. Our statistics guide will help you find reliable sources of statistical data for your coursework or research.

I’m not a law student. Where can I find information on case law, legislation and tribunals?

Many students need to use law sources. For example construction students need to consult Building Case Law reports. Human resource management students learn about employment law and need to be aware of the latest outcomes from employment tribunals.  Knowledge of copyright and media law is important for journalism students. We all work within a legislative framework, so being able to find out what law is currently in force is useful.  The Case law, legislation and tribunals for non-law students guide will get you started.

Where can I find more information about GCU Archives and Special Collections?

To find out more about the wealth of material held within our Archives and Special Collection and whether we hold information that may be useful for your topic or area of research access our Archive and Special Collections website.

I need help to manage my references and support using RefWorks?

Referencing is an important but often overlooked stage of the research process. Completing your assignment will go much more smoothly if you take good notes as you’re searching, including details of where you found the information you’re using. You can use RefWorks to manage your references.

RefWorks is an online tool which allows you to import references directly from Discover, academic databases and the internet and create your reference list and in-text citations. You still need to do some editing, but RefWorks does much of the work for you.

I need help with advanced searching for my literature review?

We have a selection of videos to support advanced searching including developing search terms and applying a search strategy to a relevant database:

These videos will also be relevant if you are searching MEDLINE.

Searching PICO using ProQuest.

We also have two online support packages SMILE (for undergraduates) and PILOT (for postgraduates and researchers). These are arranged in sections to help you navigate to the section relevant to you.