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Durham University

University Library

Library News

Library Resources: Dissertation Advice

(28 October 2020)

For any students doing their dissertation this year, we can offer the following help and advice in relation to library resources:

1) Consider what we have – When undertaking a dissertation, it is always important to consider what materials and resources you are actually going to have access to. This could be in terms of accessing a physical collection such as an archive, or being able to use a particular database. This year more than ever, it is very important to ask yourself ‘will I be able to access what I need?’ when deciding on a topic. Do not assume that your supervisor will know. Be sure to check what you can access as part of your planning process, before you submit your research proposal. If you need to access a certain physical archive, will that be possible? Even if you feel restrictions surrounding access to physical resources won’t apply to you as you’ll be using online resources, consider instead: is there a particular database or resource you need, and is it one that the library already subscribes to? This is a hugely important consideration. Databases and other electronic resources are extremely expensive to access. Please don’t assume that either we have access to everything, or that we can suddenly provide you with access to something we don’t have.

2) The Document Delivery Service - We recognise that it’s going to be a lot more difficult to visit other libraries this year. So in order to help you out we’re offering up to 10 free requests from our Document Delivery Service to all final year undergraduates writing their dissertation.

The Document Delivery Service can help obtain material that is not available in Durham University Library, but which is available in other libraries. This might include journal articles, books or book chapters. Remember:

  • Use your requests carefully for things you really need. Once you have used up your 10 free requests, there is a charge of £5 per item for any additional requests
  • Plan ahead! Requests are likely to take much longer than usual due to increased demand, so make sure you submit any requests in plenty of time

3) Take a tutorial – As part of our wider Research Skills guide, we have a suite of interactive tutorials designed to help you find, search and manage information resources for you dissertation. There are six modules that cover:

  • An introduction to dissertation research
  • Using the catalogue and Discover
  • Basic literature searching
  • Bibliographic databases
  • Accessing full-text online
  • Referencing

4) Help and Support – Our subject guides provide you with a good starting point when it comes to understanding what is available in your subject area, and our Faculty Librarians are here to help you. They can give guidance on searching for and finding information, which resources to use and how to manage what you find.