Library session: computing programmes

What is an academic library for?

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

  • textbooks (i.e. using library catalogue to find textbooks);

  • specialist learning and research resources (i.e. using databases, and Google Scholar);

  • study space and facilities (book your visit in advance); and

  • help from librarians (contact)

You can use two libraries: Solent University and QA Higher Education.

  • ACTIVITY: use the Contact page to find the email address to contact librarians.

Where to start?

A subject guide explains the resources provided by the university library, as well as how to research various topics on your programme.

Reading lists will guide you to the textbooks and articles your lecturers suggest you read to succeed. Each module has its own reading list.

The QAHE library portal page will show you the resources and services available from both Solent University and QA Higher Education.


Textbooks are a particular kind of book. They are written in order to explain various broad areas of knowledge, e.g. research methods or C# programming.

You are likely to come across two types of textbooks:

  1. Textbooks discussing a subject (e.g. Internet of Things, cyber security etc). Such textbooks discuss the main ideas in a balanced manner. It is helpful to use good textbooks when studying a new subject (module). Read more about textbooks.

  2. Instruction textbooks (e.g. C#, Web programming languages etc). Training videos can be a good alternative to such textbooks if you prefer watching to reading.

Finding textbooks

Use the library catalogues (Solent University and QAHE) to find textbooks.

Catalogues do not search inside books, so try to predict what helpful books may be called. For example, a topic of cost-benefit analysis is likely to be discussed in books about information systems or systems development . Search for "information systems" or "systems development". Then search these books for the section discussing cost-benefit analysis. Read more about finding and accessing ebooks from Solent University and QAHE.

  • ACTIVITY: Use the Solent University library catalogue to find Date, C.J. (2015) SQL and relational theory: how to write accurate SQL code, 3rd ed. in ebook format and access it.

Part of the library collection is O'Reilly Learning - a particularly good source of instruction textbooks and video tutorials.

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

Academic research is interested in bigger-picture theories that could be applied across a range of situations.

Normally, a researcher uses experiments, observations, surveys and other established methods to develop solutions, form conclusions and 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.

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.

  • ACTIVITY: Search for IoT data protection. How many results did you get? Now place the second phrase in quotation marks (IoT "data protection") 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. “data protection”) 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.

Link Google Scholar to the Solent University electronic collection


As a result, when searching in Google Scholar, the results will incorporate the articles from the Solent University subscriptions, as well as the open access ones.


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Solent slide computing

Contact librarians

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