Library tutorial: computing programmes

What is an academic library for?

Most likely, you will come across the library when looking for:

  • textbooks

  • scholarly journal articles and market data for research

  • study space and facilities

  • help from librarians

You can use two libraries: at the University of Roehampton and QA Higher Education.

Where to start?

The QAHE library portal page will show you the resources and services available from both QAHE and the University of Roehampton.

Reading lists will guide you to the textbooks and articles your lecturers suggest you read. Each module has its own reading list. You can access them here:


Textbooks are written in order to explain various broad areas of knowledge, e.g. marketing or business ethics. Normally, they discuss the main approaches and theories in a balanced manner. It is helpful to use a good textbook when studying a new subject (module). Read more about textbooks.

Not all books are textbooks. Many books advocate one point of view, often based on the research done by the author. They are called monographs.

You do not have to agree with every book you read. As you develop your own knowledge and experience, you will get better at reading critically other people’s views.

Finding books

Use the QAHE library catalogue to find books at your campus library. Catalogues do not search inside books, so try to predict what helpful books may be called. For example, a topic of report writing is likely to be discussed in the study skills or academic writing textbooks. Search then for "study skills" or "academic writing". Then search these books for the section discussing report writing. Read more about finding helpful textbooks and accessing ebooks from QAHE and the University of Roehampton.

Google Books can be helpful if you do not know what books cover your topic of interest. It searches inside many printed and electronic books; however, it is usually not allowed to show their full texts. Browsing some pages may be enough for your research. It may also give you an idea of what books to search for in the library catalogues.

Academic research

Academic research is interested in bigger-picture theories that could be applied across a range of products, companies, industries or even markets.

Before publication, the results of this research are reviewed by other specialists in the same field of knowledge. This peer-review process adds credibility to the research.

Knowledge is constantly developing, therefore some research conclusions accepted as correct earlier may be regarded wrong at a later date after more rigorous research has been done. Or the society, economy etc. may change and what was true years ago is not correct anymore.

Scholarly (academic) publications

Examples of academic research publications are scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journals, collections of conference papers (or conference proceedings), monographs and similar. These publications exist to report the outcomes of research produced by researchers.

There are many thousands of scholarly journals. Your lecturers may also call them academic journals.

Publishers aggregate these publications into collections, which are normally called databases. You may also come across phrases like "academic databases", "university databases" and similar - these all mean the same thing: collections of research publications and other content relevant to students and researchers.

  • Click here for databases to which the University of Roehampton subscribes.

Google Scholar tips

Google Scholar only searches for scholarly publications (i.e. academic research). It does not include trade (i.e. industry, professional) publications, market research, company information etc.

  1. Search for artificial intelligence. How many results did you get?

  2. Now search for this phrase in quotation marks (artificial intelligence), and search. How many results did you get?
    If you want to search for the whole
    phrase as typed (e.g. “cloud computing” or “adaptive software development), place them in quotation marks to run a phrase search. Google Scholar will not run separate searches for each word; it will search only for the whole phrase inside the quotation marks. Most academic databases understand phrase searching too.

  3. Click on the Review articles link on the left-hand side of the screen. This will take you to systematic review articles on the search topic. Many of those articles offer a broad overview and can be a good starting point for researching that topic.

The [PDF] (or similar) link on the right-hand side of the screen indicates that the article can be accessed for free. To access it, click on the link.

The Cited by link will show more recent publications that used the current article as a source and acknowledged it in the reference list.

Market research, statistics and data

The subject of market research is the performance of specific products, companies, industries and markets. There is no one tool capable of searching across the sources of market research, statistics and data simultaneously. Generic search engines like Google can find some free to use data. However, a lot of market research is behind a paywall. For this reason, your university subscribes to a number of databases and specialist electronic resources. Most of the time, they must be searched individually.

  • Please use the databases guide on how to access and search business databases.

  • For statistics on open access, please see this guide.

Contact librarians

To discuss your research and its sources, and resolve any problems related to the library, please contact the Library team.

Example 1: SWOT analysis of Apple

  1. A textbook will explain what SWOT analysis is. See, for example, introduction to management textbooks; or search for SWOT in the library catalogue.

  2. Once you know what SWOT is about, you are ready to start looking for statistics, market data, news reporting and analytical reporting about Tesco using specialist electronic resources. These resources can be found on the list of Databases.

  3. In Business Source, search for Apple.
    Change the order from Date Newest to Relevance.
    On the left-hand side of the screen, limit your search results to the full text only and the publication date - to the last few years.
    Specify the Source Type, e.g. SWOT Analysis and Industry Reports, and click on Apply.
    The list shows now relevant reports.
    TIP: When reading market reports, pay attention to the vocabulary (terminology) and use it in your research and writing.

  4. In Mintel, type in Apple in the ''I'm looking for...'' search box. In the ''Show all content types'' drop-down menu, select reports to narrow down your search.

Example 2. Locating articles by a particular researcher

  1. In IEEE database, select Advanced Search.

  2. In the first search bar enter the researcher's name, for example, Asim Majeed. Restrict the search to the Author.

  3. In the second search bar enter the topic of interest, for example "IoT". Restrict the search to document title. Select search.

  4. On the results page, sort by newest first, select subscribed content only and refine the date range if necessary,

Example 3. Literature review

  1. The purpose of a literature review is to research what others have already written on your subject. Check with your lecturer if only scholarly research is allowed or if you can use other publications, e.g. trade publications (i.e. published by professionals for other professions or practitioners). When lecturers use the phrase "academic sources", they often mean good quality publications, not just scholarly publications. For the meaning of these words, please see the relevant sections above. So you need to research what others have written on your subject. What questions have they raised, what conclusions have they come to?

  2. A good literature review provides a broad and balanced picture of the subject. Researching the literature on your topic will allow you to say that "academic literature suggests that..." and "researchers have noticed that...".All your conclusions will be about what others have already researched, discussed and agreed on (disagreed about); not your own discoveries.

  3. Explore now the Effective search guide, in particular - the Define search terms section. It suggests that you should not limit yourself to searching for words in the title of your assignment, essay or dissertation.

  4. Google Scholar is an obvious search tool to use for this assignment. It searches for scholarly publications accessible via University subscriptions, as well as trade publications.

  5. There is a particular type of research called systematic review: researchers review other researchers' findings over a period of time to identify the main themes and points of consensus or disagreement. Adding the word review or the phrase systematic review to your search terms will help you discover such research (if it has been conducted). Obviously, do not limit yourself to systematic reviews.

  6. As you read some of these publications, pay attention to the vocabulary used. If any of those terms are likely to help you with developing your research, use them as search terms.

  7. Pay attention to the Cited by link in Google Scholar: the most cited (i.e. used by other researchers) publications are likely to be the most important, most trusted pieces of research.

  8. Trade publications are helpful to uncover how particular ideas or research are applied in professional practice.