Learning at Work

This page will help you get more out of your Library resources for your assignments, projects and dissertations in Learning at Work.

Use the University VPN to access to these resources, any time, anywhere.

Getting Started

Options for getting started with Library resources.


Options for finding book material.

For some assignments, our Discovery Service will give you enough sources to work with. In fact it may give you too many - so think carefully about exactly what subject you are interested in and the keywords you are using.

Sometimes you may want to try specific databases or journals - perhaps your lecturer has recommended particular names as a good way of finding articles. This page lists key sources for the various subject areas that Learning at Work may cover.

Check out this video on how to find journal titles.

Check out this introductory video on finding journal articles.

If we don't have an item you're interested in, we may be able to obtain it via Interlibrary Loan.

You can get the most out of searching databases by considering what keywords you use. 

For an introduction to Discovery watch this video by our Business Librarian.

Watch this video for a demonstration of how to analyse your keywords and this video for a demonstration of using your keywords in an advanced search.

Alternatively, either see this two page Library Guide on Choosing Keywords for tips on this or use this form to analyse the concepts of your searches.  For a sample assignment title to unpick the concepts, look at the PowerPoint below.

Keyword selection is one of the most vital parts of your search techniques. You can type an assignment or dissertation title into Google, Google Scholar or Discovery and you will get results.  You can just type in words that occur to you and you will find material. However, you can dramatically improve what you are retrieving with a little thought and also by using the advanced search that each of those offers.

Let’s take an example where your assignment or project title is concerned with ‘preserving privacy through social networking decentralization’. Typing that phrase into Discovery, for example, will find around 600 items. You might think that’s enough to be going on with but by the time you’ve refined your results – perhaps by date or by source type – there may be very little of any use.

If we start to think about alternative terms we can widen the pool of our original search and include more relevant articles.

For ‘social networking’ we might think of ‘social network services’ or ‘SNS’ (or even ‘S.N.S.’ which most databases will treat as a different search) or ‘social media’ or perhaps even ‘online interaction’.
Note that these are not all synonymous but may be the preferred term for a subject area, or a term used by some authors, or close enough to give relevant results.

For ‘privacy’ we might think about ‘anonymity’ and/or ‘security’ and the latter might lead us on to ideas such as ‘data handling’ or ‘data privacy’ or ‘data security’.

We can consider using phrase searches to increase relevance: “social network services” (with the double quotes, will find fewer items than simply typing social network services, but the fewer results will almost certainly be more relevant.

We might consider different spelling such as ‘decentralization’ or ‘decentralisation’; or we could consider using the truncation feature of most databases to search for several words at once, e.g. decentrali* would find ‘decentralization’ or ‘decentralisation’ or ‘decentralising’ etc. Note that you can’t use truncation within a phrase search; note also that Google will ignore punctuation, such as truncation or full stops in abbreviations, except for “ “ which it treats as a phrase search.

If you’re finding too much material, you might choose to use narrower keywords, for example instead of ‘social networking’ try ‘facebook’ or ‘twitter’ or ‘linkedin’.

If you’re finding too little, you might need to broaden your search. The mindmap image below shows an example of how you might develop your thinking but this will be an ongoing process and this map, or lists of words if you prefer, will be an ongoing, organic process that will develop as your knowledge of a topic grows. Instead of a mindmap, some people prefer lists and our Library Guide Applying a Search Strategy gives you a template form that can help with thinking through this process.

In fact, look out for keywords that a database or author or publisher has assigned to an article or conference paper. Even if the actual paper is not relevant, you might get good ideas for your keywords from these to reutilize in your subsequent searches.

Some databases offer a thesaurus which can help with keyword selection. Engineering Village – very useful for a variety of technology subject searches – is a good example. 


Note that you may find terms referred to as ‘keywords’, ‘subject headings’ or perhaps ‘descriptors’.

Now take a look at how thinking about our search terms can affect an advanced search on Discovery. Instead of:
“social networking”

which at time of writing produces nearly 1800 results (which is already better than typing the topic as a phrase into the simple search box as above), we might try:

“social networking” OR “social network services” OR sns OR s.n.s.
privacy OR anonymity OR security

which gives over 12,000 results. A much bigger pool of relevant results with which to refine our search by date or source type etc.

To see more on what is going on with the OR and AND words, see our Library Guide on Boolean Logic.

In summary:
Think about the keywords you use in the Library Catalogue, in database searching, or in Google or Google Scholar. Consider:
• Alternative words – lift/elevator; colour/color
• Note tips such as truncation: comput* will search (in most databases but not Google) for
computer, computers, computing etc.
• Watch out for punctuation such as hyphens which Google ignores but many databases treat
as a separate search
• Use “ “ to search for phrases “peer-to-peer computing”
• Related keywords: social media, social network
• If you’re finding too much, narrow down your search
• If you’re finding too little, broaden your search out

• Legal Information

Links to the Library's legal information resources.

• News

Newspaper and magazine articles may be helpful although note that they are not considered 'scholarly resources'.


Support for plagiarism and referencing

Your Subject Team

 Timothy Collinson

Faculty Librarian

email timothy.collinson@port.ac.uk

phone (023) 9284 3224

 Marie Smith

Assistant Faculty Librarian

email Marie.smith@port.ac.uk

phone (023) 9284 3339