September 30, 2022, by UoN School of English

Carrying out research within the School of English

The academic jump between A-levels and University can be really intimidating, especially when you’re expected to start researching and citing more for your essays. Don’t stress out about it just yet! Your tutor and professors will be willing to support you with the transition, and this article is going to cover some helpful resources to get you started.

A researcher stands on a ladder in a library, surrounded by swathes of books piled on to bookshelves. The researcher reaches up to the top shelf to try and grab a specific bookImage source: Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash

When you’re researching and building up your ideas for an essay, the best place to start is NUSearch. NUSearch is an online resource that acts as a search engine: type in what topic you want to research or an essay/book you’re looking for. You might have to think about different ways to word specific topics so that you can find exactly what you want. However, the filter options can help you to narrow it down to specific areas like humanities and types of media (e.g articles, books). A lot of resources are accessible online, but you can also find library references if you need the physical copy and request books if they are in a different library on one of the campuses. If the University still doesn’t have it then you can request interlibrary loans! You can access other resources, by logging into sites through Sibboleth, like: JStor, VLEBooks and some books from CambridgeCore.

A drawer full of files is pulled open, with a researcher peering in.Image source: University of Nottingham image bank

If you’re struggling on where to start your research then you can look at the reading list for the module you’re working on. You can also check to see if there is recommended secondary reading. For example: if I were were writing my essay on The Portrait of Dorian Grey for the Studying Literature module, I would refer to that week in Moodle and see what secondary reading might have been recommended. I could then also look at the references list and try to find those essays to further my reading. If you can’t find anything then ask a professor on the module for help during their office hours. They can point you towards some recommended reading. You can also reach out to the Academic Skills team: you can find information about them in the English UG Community Hub on Moodle. You’ll also be able to find the Academic Handbook there to help you with referencing.

First year is a year to practice all of this and ease into university, so don’t be too harsh on yourself. Good luck!

– Anna Short

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