Tips for Information Gathering

This page was written by students, for students.

Info-seeking is naturally a big part of any research project, but it can be hard to know where to start. Here you'll find hints, tips and links to the most useful services both within and outside the university.
Your first stop for finding the information you need for your project / essay / presentation is the University Library. If you thought it was just a collection of old books, think again...


Click on the links to watch and listen (requires Adobe Flash player):

If you don't want to watch the screencasts, you can just listen to the audio instead:


Subject guides & departmental librarians

The library website has a 'subject guides to resources in the Library and on the Internet' page devoted to every department.

At the bottom of your department's page you will find the name of your librarian - this is who to consult if you have any subject-specific enquiries.

Librarians are amazing. They know everything.

Module-specific reading lists

You can find a list of all of your modules and the reading required for them in the Star Resource Lists.

Information skills tutorials

The next thing to do would be to check out the library's excellent online tutorials, which can be found in MOLE (My Online Learning Environment). If you do these once, you will benefit all the way to graduation!

To Access these tutorials:

  1. Log into MUSE, the University Portal
  2. Click on the link to 'MOLE' from the myQuickLinks section on your homepage
  3. Select 'Library - Information Skills Tutorials' from your list of online courses

An example of the kinds of tutorial available is this ,a href="">Guide to Using STAR, the university's online library catalogue.

Searching online journals

Here's how to get access to loads of electronic resources (available to all registered students whether on the university network or working at home):

  1. Log in to MUSE with your university user name and password
  2. Click on the 'Library' tab (top left)
  3. Click on "Access to the Library's Ejournals collection"


JSTOR is one of the most popular online archives of scholarly journals, and a good introduction to the wonderful world of research. If you are using a computer on the University network, you can access it directly via JSTOR search".

Search JSTOR from within Facebook

Google Scholar

It's Google, but with all the untrustworthy stuff removed!

If you're getting too many dud results from your Google Search, you can improve your Googling technique by using some simple secret tricks: Google's Cheatsheet

Also, try using Google's Advanced Search

Other search engines & resources

Yahoo, Altavisa, Bing

Compare search engine results at Thumbshots Ranking

Copac - Search library catalogues across the country

A database of library catalogues across the country, including the British Library. Useful if you're doing research on an obscure topic or if you're back at home and need to find a book away from Sheffield. Most university libraries allow access to students from other institutions out of term time (some also during term time).

Internet Detective

This is an excellent interactive site to help you figure out what sources you can trust, and those that are better left for GCSE English students.