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Finding and Managing Information for Your Dissertation: 9. Managing information

Managing the information you find

It is very important to keep an accurate record of the information to be included in your dissertation.

You will need to manage the information you find for your dissertation. Many online information sources contain features to help you store your search results for later use. In Primo, for example, you can store your search results in your Favourites. Try to get into the habit of storing the records for the information sources you find so you don't have to spend valuable time searching for them again when you are creating your reference list.

There are also online tools to allow you to export search results to reference management software e.g. EndNote. More details are below.

Why Use Referencing Software?

Here are some of the ways in which using reference management software can help:

  • Consistent citation analysis
  • Increased volume of scientific literature
  • Cite while you write
  • Single electronic storage location
  • Create error free bibliography
  • Search, sort and share references
  • Export references into documents 

 

More information available: Software : Information Services, Aberystwyth University 

Collecting your references

It is very useful to be able to systematically collect the references you have selected for your dissertation so that they are all in one place and can be selectively retrieved for use when writing your review.

Strategies can vary from:

  1. Using very simple procedures such as using the save a search and save item records features in Primo - further guidance on how this is performed in the box below.  This can be suitable strategy if you are working with a very small number of references (e.g. <25) on a topic where the literature is sparse.
  2. Taking advantage of more developed strategies such as using the Citation and Bibliographies in Word feature.  This can be suitable where you have collected a reasonable number of references but not a massive number (e.g. 25-75 references).
  3. Utilising full-scale Reference Management software such as EndNote.  This is most suitable when you mare working with a very large number of references (e.g. 100+).

Managing your searches and results

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Every time you get results from a database, you will need to manage them.

To avoid duplicating your searches again and again, save them! 

Take a look through these tabs to find out more on how to save searches and records and how to go about emailing them to yourself. 

If you find that you are repeatedly searching for the same word or phrase, you can save a search term to your Account on Primo.

In Primo, at the top of the search results page, you will see an option to Save query.

 If you would like to be notified by email when new results are added to your search, click Turn on notification for this query on the banner that appears. 

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Click on the push pin icon which is located in the top right hand corner of the Primo page to go to your favourites, and then click the Saved Searches tab to view your saved searches:

 

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You have the option to delete these saved searches whenever you wish by clicking on Unpin this search:

 

 

next to the search you wish to remove.

If you have found an item on Primo you wish to save  to your account for future reference, you can store or save a record by clicking the push pin icon next to the title.

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At the top right of the Primo page, click the "Go to my favourites" push pin icon to view your saved items.

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You can email your saved items to yourself too. 

  • Visit Primo and sign in
  • At top right of the screen select the pin

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OR

  • Click drop down menu next to your name, select Saved Items

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  • Select up to 30 records by clicking the number box next to each record

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  • Above the list, click ... then select E-MAIL

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OR

  • you can export one item at a time by click

 next to the title.

  • Continue until you have exported all the records you want to email to yourself from the Basket and any sub-folders you have previously created

Plan: the basics

Don't panic! Take a look at the following tabs at what you can do to help you on your dissertation journey.

  • Start early
  • Allow yourself some time to:
    • read around your topic of interest
    • think about what's out there and how to find the sources
    • collate the sources that are available
  • The kind of research you will need to do will depend on your research question.
  • You will need to decide on how to conduct your own research:
    • primary research: conducting your own experiments such as surveys to gain new knowledge into your topic area
    • secondary research: collating knowledge from other people's research to produce a new synthesis.
      • You may use a combination of both
  • Think about ethics. Identify and plan for any ethical issues with collecting your data 
  • Store your results securely - and back up your work regularly
  • Think about writing up as you go along 

blue yellow red and green papers

It is really important to consider how you will:

  • organise
  • store
  • keep track of your data as you collect it

This will enable you to:

  • Show trends, patterns, and themes more clearly
  • Demonstrate that you have researched your topic in detail
  • Ensure your findings are based on complete and comprehensive results

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  • Think about a work schedule so you have an idea on what you need to do and by when
  • Break your dissertation down into a list of tasks
    • For example, Week 1: search for literature, Week 2: think about appropriate methods etc.
  • Create a checklist - and tick off the completed task!
  • Set aside time each week to work on your research
  • Give yourself enough time to proof-read your final version
  • Don't leave anything to the last minute
    • Printing it: do you have enough ink/paper?
    • Binding: check how far in advance you need to submit your work for binding, 3 days/7 days?

Citations and Bibliography in Microsoft Word

There is a feature in Microsoft Word for creating in text-citations and bibliographies. It is called Citations & Bibliography and you can find it on the References tab in Word.

N.B. you do have to type in the reference details yourself so this is only useful if you are only citing a small number of references. Also it is not designed for use with footnotes.

Using Microsoft Word effectively

How can I make the most of Microsoft Word when writing my dissertation?

How to add page numbers in a Word document (starting at page 1, 2, 3 or  later) | Digital Citizen

There are many tools and features in Microsoft Word that can help you in the process of writing your dissertation. Just follow the links below for step-by-step instructions:

 

When preparing a dissertation you may wish to use one of the following methods for consistent formatting across a range of documents:

Templates

Master document

  • You can create a master document to style a range of individual Word projects, like dissertation chapters, ready for printing ( How do I do that? )

Don't lose your work!

To try to ensure that you do not lose your work we recommend that you: (FAQ https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=85)

  • Work off OneDrive as you can restore a previous version of a file stored in OneDrive (How do I do that?)
  • Name and save your document as soon as you start work. If your computer crashes for any reason Windows will try to recover your document. If you have never saved - it can't.
  • Save regularly as you work.
  • Work on a draft copy of any important document, for example your dissertation and keep your original intact.
  • Remember that on public workstation computers, the Documents (Data D:) folder is deleted regularly so if you don't copy your files to your University filestore before you logoff you will lose them ( How do I do that? )
  • NEVER work directly off a USB pen drive. 
  • Don't trust to one type of media to transport documents created at home to campus. Email it to your University email address, bring it on CD/DVD/USB drive and print it out.
  • Make sure you back up documents stored on any portable device (USB drives, CD/DVDs) in case you lose it. ( How do I do that? )
  • Make sure you always have more than one copy of any file, stored in different place.
     

All of the above are recommendations based on situations that have happened with users in the past.

Endnote

EndNote is a desktop bibliographic referencing application for gathering bibliographic references from online databases; amending, managing and storing references; formatting the references from a range of citation styles provided and exporting the references as footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies into Microsoft Word documents.

Aberystwyth University provides support and training for Endnote users.

Info-videos Endnote

Mendeley

This free tool is not supported by the University but there is support documentation online. Mendeley allows you to import references into your assignments using a citation add-in for Word.

https://www.mendeley.com/

Zotero

This is a freely available option to collect, store and help you insert citations into your assignments.

Support is not provided by Aberystwyth University but there are useful help guides and videos available online.

https://www.zotero.org/