Library session: business 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; or

  • help from librarians.

You can use two libraries: the Ulster University Library and QAHE Library.

Where to start?

  • Subject guides explain the resources provided by the university library, as well as how to research various topics. Use the blue tabs at the top of the screen to navigate the guide.

  • Reading lists guide you to the textbooks and articles your lecturers suggest you read to succeed. Each module has its own reading list. It is normally integrated with the Blackboard module page (see the menu in the Blackboard module pages). Alternatively, search in the reading lists for the module code and select the correct CRN number (you will find this information in each module handbook).

  • The QAHE library portal page will show you the resources and services available from both Ulster University and QA Higher Education. This page is worth bookmarking.

Library home page

When looking for Ulster University resources, the library home page is the best place to start from. Here is what some of the links there mean:

  • USearch is a tool you can use to search across many university databases at the same time. It is similar to Google Scholar, but it can also search for trade (i.e. professional) publications, and some market research and data.

  • Databases lists all electronic resources you can access. Not all databases are equally relevant to you. The most relevant ones are explained here.

  • Electronic Journals lists all the periodicals the university subscribes to. Do not use this if you want to search for a topic covered in journals. Use the USearch instead. Use the Electronic Journals if you know which publication you need, or you want to see what journals are published on a certain subject.

  • Library catalogue is helpful for finding ebooks. Search for a word in the book title or for the author's name, then use the Ebooks filter in the menu to narrow your results down to ebooks.

  • My Library Account: do not use this.

  • Reading Lists and Subject Guides: see Where to Start?

  • Library Help Service is useful for enquiries about the resources in the Databases list. If you are interested in the campus library services in Birmingham or London, go to the QAHE library portal.

Login

OpenAthens

To access your library electronic resources, you will almost always be asked to use OpenAthens. First, select your organisation: type "Ulster". Then use the Ulster University link to access the next page. There, use your Ulster email address for the username and the same password as for Blackboard.

Read a guide or Watch a video guide

UU Verify login

When accessing the list of the library databases from the library homepage, you will see the UU Verify login page. In this case, use your student number (B00xxxxxx) for the username. The password is the same as for the Blackboard, OpenAthen, student email etc.

Resources

Books: textbooks and monographs

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 (and often competing) approaches and relevant theories in a balanced manner. It is helpful to use a good textbooks when studying a new subject (module). Read more about textbooks.

Other books you are likely to come across are monographs. The word comes from two Greek words: mono meaning "single", and grapho meaning "to write"; hence they are a writing on one subject. Monographs do not necessarily aim to discuss every relevant point of view equally. They are likely to advocate one point of view, often based on the research done by the monograph's author or other researchers. You do not have to agree with every book you read. As you develop your own knowledge and experience, you will get better equipped to critically appreciate other people’s views, including those in books and other publications.

Finding books

Use the library catalogues (Ulster University and QAHE) to find textbooks and monographs. 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 the Ulster 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 university library catalogue.

Academic research

Academic research is interested in bigger-picture theories that could be applied out 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. Also, many thousands of academic conferences take place every year; the texts of their talks (proceedings) often appear in dedicated publications. Some of those publications are free to access (Open Access publications); others stay behind a paywall.

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.

Scholarly articles and conference papers

Most scholarly articles have a common structure. They normally contain the title; author(s); literature review; methodology; discussion; conclusion; and a list of references or bibliography.

See, for example, this paper.

The Abstract is a summary of the article, briefly explaining the problem the author(s) wanted to resolve and discuss, the methodology and research process, and the main outcomes. It is helpful to read the abstract first in order to decide whether the article is relevant before committing to reading the whole article.

Scholarly articles are also likely to contain subject terms or keywords describing the article’s content. In databases, they are hyperlinked to allow browsing of publications with the same subject terms and keywords.

University databases allow searching across particular parts (or fields) of articles. For example, you can check whether the database contains articles by a particular researcher (author field) or has articles with a particular word in the title (title field) or abstract (abstract field). This often helps to reduce the number of irrelevant items in the results.

Your module reading lists and lecturers will guide you to the most relevant and helpful scholarly articles. To find scholarly articles on the topic of your research, use the USearch and Google Scholar.

See this guide to finding scholarly articles. The guide contains a video about USearch and advice on linking GoogleScholar to the Ulster University databases.

Google Scholar tips

Here is a small exercise first:

  1. The phrases you want Google Scholar (and most university databases) to search exactly as you type, e.g. “relationship marketing” or “corporate social responsibility”, can be put into speech 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 speech marks. Most academic databases understand phrase searching too.

  2. Type only search terms, not sentences, e.g. social media influencers fashion, and use the vocabulary used by researchers (e.g. not shops, but retail).

  3. Adding the word "review" to your search may help you to find publications providing a broad critical overview of the established research on a particular topic.

Google Scholar results screenshot, the explanation follows this image
  1. On the left side of the screen, there are filters to limit the results by date and rearrange them by date or relevance.

  2. On the right side of the screen, there are links to the sources containing the found articles: either in university databases or elsewhere. To tell Google Scholar you have access to the university databases, go to the menu - Settings - Library links - search for Ulster - tick two boxes, Ulster University & University of Ulster - Save.

  3. Use a star underneath each result entry to add it to your reading shelf

  4. Click on speech marks to see citation examples.

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

USearch v. Google Scholar

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 many 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: neither USearch nor Google Scholar can help.

To know more about these resources and how to use them for your research, please see the subject guide (tabs include Library Databases, Company Information, and Statistics).

For statistics on open access, please see this guide.

You may find helpful to watch the following videos discussing some of the content explained above:

Research examples

1. SWOT analysis of Tesco

  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, as follows.

  3. In IBISWorld, search for "Tesco". In the menu on the left side, tick the box for the United Kingdom. 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 G47.110 - Supermarkets in the UK report, unless you are interested in the 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.

  4. In Business Source Complete, search for "Tesco". In the menu on the left, under Source Types, click on Show More and select Market Research Reports, Industry Profiles and SWOT Analyses (obviously, make your version of SWOT original). This will leave market research publications in the results. Use the Publication Date slider to narrow the results down to the last few years.
    TIP: You can also research Tesco's competitors to understand Tesco's strengths and challenges better.

  5. In Passport, start typing "Tesco" and select View all results in the bottom right corner of the drop-down menu. Use the menu on the right to narrow the results down to the aspects of the Tesco business relevant to your research.

  6. In Financial Times, search for "Tesco". When accessing it for the first time, you will be asked to create an account using the university email address. The FT is one of the top business newspapers in the world; it often reports on large companies and most important market developments.

  7. Access Statista using the Off Campus option. Search for "Tesco", "supermarkets" and other relevant search terms.

2. PESTLE analysis of the aviation industry in Canada

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

  2. Once you know what PESTEL 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.

  3. In Business Source Complete, (a) search for "airlines AND canada". In the menu on the left, under Source Types, click on Show More and select Market Research Reports, Industry Profiles and SWOT Analyses. This will leave market research publications in the results. Use the Publication Date slider to narrow the results down to the last few years.
    TIP: Reading about particular companies will help you to understand the whole industry better.
    (b) search for Canada. In the menu on the left, under Source Types, select Country Reports. Use the Publication Date slider to narrow the results down to the last few years.

4. In Passport,
(a) start typing "airlines" and select
View all results in the bottom right corner of the drop-down menu. Use the menu on the left to narrow the results down, under Geographies, to Canada.
(b) in the top-screen menu, select
Economies - Economy, Finance and Trade. Scroll down to the Country Reports in the middle of the page and select Canada; if it doesn't appear on the list, select All geographies. Then use the menu on the left to narrow the results down, under Geographies, to Canada.

5. In Financial Times, search for particular airlines relevant to your research. Search for Canada to understand the bigger picture relevant to the PESTEL analysis. When accessing it for the first time, you will be asked to create an account using the university email address. The FT is one of the top business newspapers in the world; it often reports on large companies and most important market developments.

6. Access Statista using the Off Campus option. Search for Canada, airlines (and narrow down to Canada using the menu on the left side) and particular airlines relevant to your research.

7. In MarketLine,
(a) use the menu at the top of the screen: Analysis - Countries & Cities - Country Profiles; then use the Geographies filter on the left-hand side of the screen to narrow the results down to the country you are researching.
(b) In the same menu, select Sectors - Transportation, Travel, Tourism & Leisure - Transportation, Infrastructure & Logistics; then use the Geographies filter on the left-hand side of the screen to narrow the results down to the country you are researching.

3. Literature review

  1. The purpose of a literature review is to research what others have already written on your subject. Normally, only academic research (e.g. "academic" journal articles, conference papers and monographs, see above) is discussed in literature reviews.

  2. When lecturers use the phrase "academic sources", they often mean good quality publications, not just academic research publications. Check with your lecturer whether only academic research is admissible for your assignment or other publications, e.g. trade publications (i.e. published by professionals for other professions, or practitioners) will be accepted too. For the meaning of these words, please see the relevant sections above.

  3. Let us assume that the topic of your literature review is social influencers' role in product promotion in Bangladesh. For this, you do not need to research the role of social influencers in product promotion in Bangladesh. You need only to research what others have written on the subject. What questions have they raised, to what conclusions they have come to so far?

  4. 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 a word review or a phrase systematic review to your search terms will help you to discover such research (if it has been done). See, for example, the results of searching for social media influencers review in Google Scholar. This is a good starting point for this research. Obviously, do not limit yourself to systematic reviews.

  5. A good literature review provides a broad and balanced picture of the subject. For that reason, you may select some publications about social influencers in general, not just in Bangladesh. Then, look for publications about the Bangladeshi context. You may notice certain similarities or differences with the global trends. This will allow you to say that "academic literature suggests that the Bangladeshi context has its specifics, namely..."; and "researchers have noticed that the reasons for these developments lay in the Bangladeshi market's reliance on ... and the consumers' preference for ...". All your conclusions will be about what others have already researched, discussed and agreed on (disagreed about); not your own research into Bangladeshi social influencers.

  6. 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. For example, even though the phrases "social media" or "social platforms" or "advertising" are not present in the title - social influencers' role in product promotion in Bangladesh - of this literature review, searching for them (combines with influencers and Bangladesh) may help you to find helpful sources.

  7. As you read some of these publications, pay attention to the vocabulary they used. If any of those terms are likely to help you with discovering helpful sources, use them as search terms.

  8. Google Scholar and the USearch are two obvious search tools to use for this assignment. The former only searches for scholarly publications; the latter - for the scholarly publications accessible via the University subscriptions, as well as trade publications.

  9. Make sure to specify in the Google Scholar's settings that you have access to the Ulster University subscriptions: Settings - Library links - search Ulster and tick two boxes for Ulster University and University of Ulster - save.

  10. The Cited by and Related articles links in Google Scholar will help you to discover more relevant publications.

Contact librarians

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