Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘encyclopaedias

We mostly turn to Google when in need of a piece of information.

What is the date for the next bank holiday? (factual information) Who is my MP? (current information)…What is the definition of psychology (subject specific information)?

What did people do before Google? Often they went to the library quick reference shelf. This section of a library or LRC is for consultation only. The books are often heavy tomes because they include many many lists and indices. You have dictionaries, encyclopaedias, almanacs, atlases, handbooks and more. The books on the quick reference shelves aren’t intended to be read cover-to-cover. Instead you can find specific information by looking up a key word (such as date, name or place) in the index which points to where the information is in the main pages (which then may point you to other books to be found elsewhere in the library).

One key thing to bear in mind about Googling is that companies can make a lot of money when you click on the link to their website, there are some extreme examples as to how Google results are not to be trusted. Many of the links are commercial and the information may not be that relevant or authoritative enough for study purposes. Quick reference books are more reliable sources of information than most of the results that Google conjures up. This is because, in getting published regularly, they have gone through a very careful selection and editing process by experts. However you have to keep your critical thinking hat on when looking at all information sources.

Quick reference books need a bit of getting used to again. Most people have forgotten how good a reference book can be and the skills to use them. Although a bit old, a really useful book is the ‘Guide to the use of libraries and information sources’ which offers great advice on using reference books. One illuminating idea is that: “…research begins when the first encyclopaedia the student consults fails to provide the information needed to answer a question or to carry out an assignment, and it becomes necessary to consult several sources.”

We have lots of dictionaries and encyclopaedias on specific subjects with new ones arriving every day at the moment. Don’t be put off by library terminology, the quick reference shelf could be thought of as a starting shelf much like we turn to Google to answer quick queries.

Advertisements
Information sources mindmap - available on the VLE

Information sources mindmap – available on the VLE.

To get the better grades in assignments they are looking for you to draw from a wide range of relevant information sources to reinforce your ideas. There is no end to good sources of information available to you, but navigating your way through to the best ones takes practice and guidance. Here’s a little guidance, but please ask for help from the LRC team if you are stuck.

To start out with it is advisable to find information from generalist sources such as encyclopaedias and subject specific dictionaries. For instance to find definitions of key words included in your essay question. They have more authority than Wikipedia when it comes to referencing. However, starting an assignment is scary and overwhelming, perhaps try listening to a podcast on the topic or watching a video to get more familiar with it in a short time without needing to open a book.

After getting a better picture of the topic and identifying the key words next you could move on to more specialist sources such as subject books, ebooks, newspaper and journal articles. We have access to these through the MyAthens log in page on the VLE and our borrowing service. Let us know if you have forgotten your password, it happens to almost everyone. Alternatively, search on newspaper websites and  such as The Guardian or through Google Scholar.

There’s a mindmap of information sources that is posted on the VLE under LRC FAQs –> Resources.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 288 other followers

Follow me on Twitter

Advertisements