By Luke Holloway
With the ‘remote’ and ‘blended learning’ experiences of recent years, online resources have become a staple of students’ research. Carrying a bundle of heavy books back home or competing with classmates to take out an essential textbook have become increasingly uncommon occurrences. Depending on your course, you might be able to undertake most of your reading on a topic without even leaving your computer screen. And if you’re planning on doing any research over the summer – whether it’s a formal project or just making a head-start on next year’s studies – the ability to access materials remotely makes it much less time-consuming than arranging to visit campus in-person. Thus, it’s all the more important to know your way around the Library’s online resources. They vary from subject to subject, of course, but the main types are as follows.
The Library’s stock of eBooks has increased considerably over the last few years, with many core readings now available in electronic format. These can be accessed directly by using the ‘catalogue’ section of ‘Library Search’ and then selecting ‘E-Book’ in the left-hand panel to ‘refine’ your results. There are a range of eBook providers, though most allow users to highlight or annotate text and to download a select number of pages as a PDF. Sometimes digitised copies of doctoral theses also appear in the ‘catalogue’ search, from platforms such as WRAP or EThOs – feel free to access those too!
The ‘Library Search’ also has an ‘articles’ section, where users can search for relevant articles in academic journals. Like with an eBook, you’ll be taken to the platform that provides the text. Some providers allow you to highlight and annotate the article online, though I prefer to download a PDF copy to my computer instead (making it easier to consult the article again later). Alternatively, you can log into and search other digital libraries of journals, such as JSTOR. Locating an obscure article this way has, on many occasions, changed the course of my research for the better.
On the Library homepage, look below the ‘Library Search’ bar for the ‘Databases’ tab. It should take you to this page, where you can access specialist databases by type or subject. The providers of eBooks and journals can be found here too, but it’s also an excellent way to find additional materials outside of the ‘Library Search’ function. In my subject of History, for example, students can narrow the results by historical period, then find direct links to database websites. I discovered this function relatively late in my degree, but it’s since been a fantastic source of primary materials, from statistical evidence to old newspapers.
After singing the praises of online resources, concluding with the benefits of in-person research might seem somewhat inconsistent. Yet, in my time at Warwick, I’ve found that the Library’s online and in-person services are best used in conjunction with one another. Just as remote access to books and journals saves plenty of time and energy, it’s important to remember that not all academic texts are available online, and sometimes a visit to the bookshelves can offer further information. Even if all your readings are digitised, moreover, the Library itself can still be a great place to sit and scroll through an eBook.
Further details on the Library’s online resources can be found here.
Note: Library Search is due to be updated in the Summer of 2022.
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