University of Sussex Library Updates

News and information from the University of Sussex Library

Survey Results! Library Support for Postgraduate Reasearchers 2011



One of the key services Research Liaison offers to doctoral students and academics is 1-2-1 support with using Library resources. This is a bookable session which is tailored to your own research needs. We can look at:

  • Useful online resources for your subject
  • Effective searching for relevant results
  • Keeping up to date with research in your area

Every summer we carry out a survey of the doctoral researchers we have seen in 1-2-1s that year to get some feedback and to ask where we could improve the support we offer. 65% of the PGRs we’ve seen between October 2010 and July 2011 responded to the survey and it was encouraging to see terms such as ‘excellent’, ‘very good service’ and ‘helpful’ in the comments!

100% of those who answered also said that they would recommend the session to a colleague and would also take advantage of further library training during their time at Sussex University.

As part of the survey we also asked people what else they would like to see covered in our sessions and for any extra general comments on how the Library can support researchers. This is always a useful exercise for us and I have attempted to address some of the suggestions below. Hopefully there are some useful nuggets of information here that will apply to you too.

“I would like help with library searches in a 1-2-1 session”

Our 1-2-1 sessions tend to concentrate on electronic resources but we can definitely cover any aspect of the Library and how to get the best out of it, so don’t be afraid to ask. If you would like a demonstration on using the online catalogue we’d be more than happy to help.

Plus don’t forget the staff at the Information Hub on the ground floor of the Library. They are always on hand if you need some quick assistance. They will be more than happy to give you a short catalogue demonstration and explain where each subject area is shelved in the library.

“I would like to see software databases for organising research material covered in a 1-2-1 session.”

“I think it would be very useful to have some library staff trained on how to use Endnote and other referencing software.”

We can discuss the use of bibliographic software in a 1-2-1 session but if you need advanced technical advice then IT Services are your experts. They offer a comprehensive course on Endnote which will be of much greater benefit than anything we could cover in a 1-2-1 session.

In the meantime you can take a look at our infoPlus guide for some information on the referencing software in general.

“More courses for webpage making (online profolio), NVivo.”

Again, IT Services are going to give you the most specialist support. Have a look at their section for researchers on The Doctoral School web pages. As much as we would love to cover different software packages our knowledge definitely falls short of what the experts have to offer. So drop them an email, they’re there to help!

“I would like to learn more about academic journal rankings that inform our choices on where and how to publish our academic work.”

A good starting point would be The Web of Knowledge, an invaluable resource for assessing journal impact factor in your subject area. We can definitely look at how to get the best out of this powerful tool during a 1-2-1 session. It might also be beneficial to attend one of our bibliometrics workshops, which we run every term here in the Library. Check the Doctoral School web pages for dates soon.

In the meantime, take a look at this useful online tutorial made in collaboration between four Irish academic libraries to support bibliometrics training.

As for tips on how to get published, look out for events coming up over the academic year. We recently ran such an event together with Sage at the Sussex Research Hive here in the Library and no doubt similar workshops will be happening again throughout 2011-12!

“I would appreciate follow up sessions / written support to help me develop as a researcher and gain confidence.”

“I found the session really helpful at the time – but think there could have been more advice on how to get the best out of searches / query language. Returning to some of the databases we discussed on my own, I found it harder than I expected to get the best out of them.”

“I think I need a follow up session or the main session to be split into smaller sessions – I felt like I had a lot of information but had difficulty remembering it or applying it.”

We’re aware that we try to fit a great deal into our 1-2-1s and it can be a lot of information to take in all at once. I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ time to come in for a 1-2-1 – we try to tailor the session to what you need at the time but naturally your research needs will change and there will be more to know. You might choose to have one session near the start of your research to become familiar with the electronic resources in your subject area and to become more efficient in using them (96.2% of our survey respondents agreed that after the 1-2-1 they were using resources they had not previously known about).

You’re also very welcome to book a follow-up session as your research progresses or to email us with particular questions if there’s something that’s just popped out of your mind. We are always available for ad hoc support.

“I would like another 1-2-1 to show me how to keep up to date with new publications in my field.”

This is something we can definitely cover in a 1-2-1 session. So feel free to book another session if you need help keeping up to date. For example, we can show you how to set up email alerts so that you’re notified as soon as a new article is published in your subject area.

We also run workshops on keeping up to date throughout the academic year here in the Library. Check the Doctoral School web pages for dates soon.

“Theses could be online and could be taken home as the other books. Also, there are few books and reports on my field of study in the Library.”

EthOS is a new service from the British Library that provides online access to the full-text of UK doctoral theses. The EThOS database contains over 250,000 records of doctoral theses from UK Higher Education Institutions. Many of these have already been digitised and are available for free immediate download. All you need to do is set up an account!

As for books, if there is something you think the Library should buy then we have a purchase suggestion system. Just click the ‘Place Request’ button on the catalogue menu bar, enter your borrower number and follow the prompts to fill in a request form.

“I have made 3 requests for the library to buy 3 books, but I haven’t heard anything! I got a confirmation email, but the books were never bought.”

It is possible that the books you mention have been bought and are now in stock. Because of the large number of requests we receive we are unable to respond to everyone individually once a item has been purchased. To guarantee notification when we purchase one of your requests just add a note on your request form to say that you would like the item reserved once it is available. You will receive an email when the item is ready to collect.

Hope these answers help!

If you would like to come in for a 1-to-1 session you can book at and you can email Research Liaison at

Comments are closed.