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METHODS AND TECHNIQUES

Locating references:
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Locating Books and Journals

Once you have selected your core reading from the reading list, it's time to hit the library. Or is it? In fact, there is still quite a bit of work you can do before your first trip to the library, but you'll need a computer.

Most University Libraries now have their catalogues - the list of all the books that they hold, and where to find them - online. It's called an 'online catalogue', and it contains some extremely useful information about the books you have initially selected. For instance, most online catalogues will tell you:

Searching the Online catalogue

Searching the Online Catalogue is relatively easy if you have had any experience of using search engines. If, however, this is new to you, you should contact your library or computer service; they will be able to provide you with some help. Here are some additional tips you might find useful:

1) In most systems you don't have to type in the full reference. Just the first few words of the title or the author's name will usually do. Bear in mind that searching by the author's name can be time-consuming, especially if there are a lot of other authors with the same surname. We used our library catalogue to search for this reference:

White, R.K. 1986. Dark Caves, Bright Visions: Life in Ice Age Europe. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

Here are our search results using the University of York library catalogue:

Search term Number of 'Hits'
White 1251
White, R 50
White, Randall 2
Dark 244
Ice Age 28
Dark caves 1

In the example above, instead of typing in 'White', it would be quicker to use 'Dark caves'.

2) Journals. Bear in mind that while your library may stock a particular journal, it may not hold the full run of volumes. Quite often a library will only have a limited run of a journal (very early volumes may be missing, for instance) or a journal may be held intermittently with odd volumes missing. To avoid disappointment it is always best to check the precise run of a journal to ensure that the volume you want is held. Most online catalogues will allow you to do this.

3) E-Journals. Increasingly, libraries are opting to subscribe to an e-publishing service rather than stock hard copies of journals. E-journals and E-publishing are where the source material is held electronically and libraries pay a subscription to allow their users to access the digital version. Since the system for controlling access to E-Journals can be quite complex, it is best to consult your own library to see which E-publication systems they subscribe to and how to go about obtaining access. Be aware that you may have to register to get your own username and password to access some E-journals, so they may not be as 'instant' as you may think.