Library session: business programmes
What is an academic library for?
Most likely, you will come across the library when looking for:
scholarly journal articles and market data for research
study space and facilities
help from librarians
You can use two libraries: Solent University and QA Higher Education.
Where to start?
The QAHE library portal page will show you the resources and services available from both Solent University and QAHE. This page is worth bookmarking.
Reading lists will guide you to the textbooks and articles your lecturers suggest you read to succeed. Each module has its own reading list.
A subject guide explains the business management-related electronic resources available to you from Solent University.
Textbooks are a particular kind of book. They 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. 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.
Use the library catalogues (Solent University and QAHE) to find books. Catalogues do not search inside books, so try to predict what helpful books may be called. For example, a topic of employee motivation is likely to be discussed in books about organisational behaviour or human resource management (HRM). Search for "organisational behaviour", "human resource management" or "HRM". Then search these books for the section discussing employee motivation. Read more about finding and accessing ebooks from Solent University and QAHE.
Google Books can be helpful if you do not know what books cover your topic of interest. Google Books 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 is interested in bigger-picture theories that could be applied across a range of products, companies, industries or even markets.
Normally, a researcher uses experiments, observations, surveys and other established methods to develop solutions, form conclusions, propose new theories etc. 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.
Read about articles and journals on the Solent LibGuide
The full list of the databases and the most useful business databases to which Solent University subscribes.
Google Scholar tips
Google Scholar only searches for scholarly publications (i.e. academic research). It does not include trade (i.e. industry) publications, market research, company information etc.
Search for transformational leadership. How many results did you get?
Now search for this phrase in quotation marks (“transformational leadership”) and search. How many results did you get? Why is there a difference in the number of results?
The phrases that you want the search to retrieve exactly as typed (e.g. “relationship marketing” or “corporate social responsibility”) can be placed 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.
The [PDF] (or similar) link on the right 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. Adding the word "review" to your search may help you find publications providing a broad critical overview of the established research on a particular topic.
Market research, statistics and data
The subject of market research is the performance of specific products, companies, industries and markets (i.e. economies). 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.
You may find it helpful to watch the following videos discussing some of the content explained above:
Please click on the arrow to view the slides
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 Tesco
A textbook will explain what SWOT analysis is. See, for example, introduction to management textbooks; or search for SWOT in the library catalogue.
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, as follows.
In ProQuest One Business, search for "Tesco". Sort your search results by relevance. Limit your search to the full text. Specify the source type you are looking for, for example, reports, and click on Apply. Limit your publication date to the most recent articles and click on Update. As location, select United Kingdom-UK. The list shows all the industry reports mentioning Tesco. The company is known for being the largest supermarket chain in the UK, so, you will most likely start with the Tesco Plc (TSCO) Financial and Strategic SWOT Analysis Review report, unless you are interested in Tesco's presence in banking, mobile telecoms or other industries.
TIP: When reading market reports, pay attention to the vocabulary (terminology) and use it in your research and writing.
In FAME, search for "Tesco". Select the article TESCO PLC. In the column on the left, find market data on the company, such as: key information, company profile, financials and stock data.
TIP: You can also research Tesco's competitors to understand Tesco's strengths and challenges better by selecting Peer comparison.
In Mintel, type in "Tesco" in the ''I'm looking for...'' search box. In the ''Show all content types'' drop-down menu, select reports to narrow down your search.
Access Statista using the Off Campus option and selecting Solent University. Enter your University email address and password. Search for "Tesco", "supermarkets" and other relevant search terms.
Example of searching on ProQuest One Business
Reports on Tesco
Example 2. PESTLE analysis of the aviation industry in Canada
A textbook will explain what PESTLE analysis is. See, for example, introduction to management and international business textbooks; or search for PESTLE in the QAHE library catalogue.
Once you know what PESTLE is about, you are ready to start looking for statistics, market data, news reporting and analytical reporting in specialist electronic resources. These resources can be found on the list of Databases, as follows.
In ProQuest One Business:
(a) Search for "airlines AND Canada". Sort your search results by relevance. Limit your search to full text. Specify the source type you are looking for, for example, reports, and click on Apply. Limit your publication date to the most recent articles and click on Update. The list shows all the industry reports mentioning airlines and Canada.
TIP: Reading about particular companies will help you understand the whole industry better.
(b) Search for ''Canada''. In the menu on the left, under Source Type, select Reports. Limit your publication date to the most recent articles and click on Update.
(a) search for "Canada airlines". Select the article CANADA 3000 AIRLINES LIMITED. In the column on the left, find market data on the company, such as: key information, company profile, financials, peer comparison and stock data.
(b) Search for ''Canada air''. Select the articles that are relevant to your research.
In Mintel, type in "airlines AND Canada" in the ''I'm looking for...'' search box. In the ''Show all content types'' drop-down menu, select reports to narrow down your search.
Access Statista using the Off Campus option and selecting Solent University. Enter your University email address and password. Search for ''Canada, airlines''. In the left column, under ''Countries & Territories'', narrow down your search to ''Canada''.
Example 3. Literature review
The purpose of a literature review is researching 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?
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.
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.
Google Scholar is an obvious search tool to use for this assignment. It searches for the scholarly publications accessible via the University subscriptions, as well as trade publications. In Google Scholar's settings (Library links), make sure to specify that you have access to Solent University's subscriptions.
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.
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.
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.
Trade publications are helpful to uncover how particular ideas or research are applied in professional practice.