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How can I get a robot to search for me? And other library tips.

Hi all,

AU Library can help you be an amazing researcher!

As an academic reference librarian there are three improvements that I think could have been made (without too much work) to most dissertations and theses that I read from around the world.

1. Correctly cite seminal works.

2. Never claim, "There is nothing published on this topic."  [Every time I've tested this claim, I've found published material on the given topic.]

3. Include up to date material in the literature review.

Academic Librarians can help grad students improve search strategies to address each of these. 

The first one requires diligent sleuthing and then reading the original source.  Just as in many other forms of communication where one person tells second person who tells a third, academic references can distort significantly from the original author's words.  Usually, when I track down the seminal work, I find the current claimed attribution is almost unrecognizable against the original work.  AU Librarians can help set a strategy to find and access seminal works. 

My suggested antidote to the second one is that if you find yourself about to write a sentence like that, then contact the library and ask for help finding publications on that topic.  One can't prove the absence of publications on a topic, but one can be more confident to say, "I was not able to find anything published on this topic." 

The last suggested improvement is based on my anecdotal recollection that most literature reviews are one to two years out of date by the time the dissertation or thesis is completed.  My recommendation is to set up an automatic search, which is like having a robot do your database searching for you and then email you any publications that are new since the last time the robot searched.  This makes it easy to keep on top of what's current in your area and to revise your literature review with new resources before your final defense.  The March 9, 2017 live presentation covers how do set up the automatic searching. If you miss the live talk then the PPT presentation with my speaking notes is uploaded as a file to the EDDE 806 group, the file is the same name as this blog post.  If you have any questions you can always contact me. 


Peggy Lynn





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