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  Postgraduate Research

Starting post-graduate research can be daunting, as you need to learn how to search for information in a logical and controlled way. A last-minute search on Google won’t find you the evidence-based, up-to-date research information you need to support a Masters.
Remember that you have already had to do a lot of research to get to the stage where you are now.
For successful post-graduate study, you will just need to build on the skills you already have.

You may need to:

  •  Learn how to conduct an in-depth search to identify a range of resources.
  •  Become familiar with the databases used to find literature in your subject area.
  •  Learn to plan your time, so that you leave time to find more obscure articles or get copies from another library.
  •  Keep track of your references, so that you and others can find the resources again.
Edinburgh Napier Library buys quality, up-to-date resources to support your study, including subscribing to over 100 databases with full-text articles available from over 9,000 journals. However, as you focus on a very specific subject, you will probably also find that you need to visit other libraries in the region, such as the National Library of Scotland or Edinburgh University Library. 

First steps

Your Subject Librarian (or Information Services Advisor) may attend a class and give a teaching session on how to best search for information in your area. This includes details about which databases are best for which subjects, coverage, and access.
If your subject librarian does not visit your class, a lot of this information is available on the Library web pages. Search methods and the type of material required varies from subject to subject, so the best place to start is with the guide prepared by your subject librarian.


Research Cycle

The Research Cycle aims to introduce the key information and research skills required to develop into a successful 
researcher. It highlights the support available from Information Services at each stage of the research cycle, from thinking and planning to publishing and sharing. 



Building on the basics

Read the Library helpsheet on Literature searching to get you started. This describes how to break down the parts of your search to help you find what you are looking for. If you are searching using these instructions, and having difficulty finding relevant material, email your subject librarian and ask for help.

If you are looking for a thesis, see our pages: 

Finding articles not available in our Libraries

You may need to visit other libraries in Edinburgh, or you may need to request an inter-library loan (requesting the article from another library).

The libraries you may be most likely to visit are Edinburgh University Library or the National Library of Scotland on George IV Bridge.
To visit Edinburgh University Library, you will need to apply for SCONUL access from your home library. To visit the National Library of Scotland, you will need to apply for membership​

For more details, see the pages:

Referencing for your dissertation or thesis

Each School has guidelines for referencing practice and you should always check with your supervisor about the style of referencing you should use.

There are guidelines for each School. See Bibliographies and Referencing

If you want to use specialist software to keep track of your references, Edinburgh Napier University has Endnote and Endnote Web. These allow you to create a library of your references (including importing the details directly from online databases), and then output a bibliography at the end. See the Edinburgh Napier Endnote helpsheet.


Can't find what you need?

If you are still having trouble finding what you need, contact your subject librarian.​
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