Here are some tips and help in finding those pesky secondary sources! I know that most of you will already know all of this, but just in case you don’t, here is some (hopefully helpful) advice.
Firstly, never ask yourself “how many sources can I get away with?”. The more secondary reading you do, the better, but that doesn’t mean you have to read the whole book every time. Begin by checking the index for relative key words, and choose chapters that relate to your essay or your primary reading.
Secondly, if you read a book or essay and that author mentions another author, it might be worth checking out the referenced author. This can actually create an interesting argument in your own essay (but don’t plagiarise whatever you do!!).
Thirdly, those lectures you attend every week, that are on BlackBoard, they usually contain references and quotes, some lecturers even put their bibliographies at the end. Check them out, I’d advise you not to pilfer the contents but if something strikes you, go to the library and look it up. Just a reminder…don’t forget BlackBoard, there is always suggested reading on there under your modules, just do some digging.
Fourthly, use the library. I cannot stress this enough! There is so much material available to you in this one building. I cannot deny the temptation to simply trawl the internet, in the comfort of your own home, with a cup of tea and a biscuit, but that only gives you access to the stuff everyone else in the world can read, not the specialist resources that your fees help to pay for. Please check out an earlier T.E.A post, The Library is Your Friend if you’re still not sure. You can also access archives!! It’s amazing I know! Go to the Library Catalogue, select the Electronic Library tab then choose Databases A-Z. There are newspaper archives, 18th and 19th century materials and so much more, just a few clicks away, they’re at your disposal. Through the library you can also view plays and documentaries on BoBNational, it’s an amazing resource so check it out!
Lastly and probably the most obvious but least used…people. Actual living beings. I know that most students are reluctant to “bother” people but they are there to help. Tutors and library staff are, in our experience, always happy to lend a hand if you’re stuck and advertise their Office Hours and Drop-in Sessions. Don’t forget that T.E.A are always happy to help too, if we can.
Oh and before I forget…don’t forget that style guide! You’ll need it when it comes to writing up those long bibliographies you’re now more than capable of doing!
Lynne & T.E.A