This introductory course provided by the University of Edinburgh’s library is structured in five modules.
Module 1: Getting Started with the Library
Accessing and using online library resources for your studies. This begins with the task of setting up a “Pebble Pad” blog (the reason for which isn’t apparent), which itself begins with a series of “helpful” videos.
I find video an extremely frustrating and patronising format and will always prefer to read a few well-chosen words that cut to the chase. Almost every instructional video I have ever seen seems to have been designed to meet a requirement to have video as part of the instruction tools. I have never seen one that was better than words on a page. I include the videos I have made in that.
How to access online library resources provides basic access information including how to set up the VPN, and how to navigate the menus in the MyEd university landing pages to find library search tools like DiscoverEd. The video for this section is available as a pdf: it’s as if someone’s listening! Understanding and Accessing Your Reading List isn’t at first sight relevant to PhD – because there are no reading lists for PhD – but it’s possible to look in on other courses or browse the Resource Lists. Start Searching DiscoverEd offers some practice with the university library search interface as well as again providing stats on how much stuff there is in the library. The module finishes with Making the Most of Library Resources which shows how to find help.
It’s been helpful to return to basics in this module and check that I’m not missing anything fundamentally useful in accessing the library. I have found the library interfaces generally quite self-explanatory and intuitive to use, especially if you take the time to read the interface carefully.
- Study Skills Guides - a resource list for all students, covering general study skills, academic writing, referencing, critical thinking, reflective writing, literature reviews and so on.
Module 2: Your Information Landscape
Modules 3 – 5
These address finding and retrieval; managing information and referencing. I went through these quickly to see what’s new or useful. From these…
Identifying source categories
Information sources can be broadly categorised into three types:
- Primary or original sources
- Secondary sources provide interpretation, commentary or analysis
- Tertiary or reference sources are dictionaries, encyclopaedias or indexes of primary and secondary information
A very useful stick-on-the-wall guide to selecting literature was published by the Meriam Library at California State University (2015).
- Meriam Library - California State University Chico. 2015. “Evaluating Information – Applying the CRAAP Test,” 17. https://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf.