A personal advice: go to a one-to-one session, seriously!

A couple of weeks ago I booked a one-to-one support session with Bethany Logan, the Research Support Supervisor at the Library, and now I just want everybody to do it and can’t stop to sing the praises of this service. But let me start at the beginning.

About a month ago I found myself scouring the Library catalogue and the internet to  teach myself how to conduct a Public Policy Analysis. It was frustrating and I was wasting a lot of time in making sense of search results and trying to find out the best most effective way to overcome this challenge I inflicted upon myself. And somehow, in the midst of that confusion, as I was sitting in the Hive I had what felt like a revelation and decided to book a one-to-one session. As I Hive Scholar I have been to countless inductions with Bethany and heard her tell everybody about this service, but somehow I hadn’t considered it for me until then.

The booking form is as straightforward as it gets, you have to say who you are and what department you are in, what is your research about and what you expect to get from this training. You also have to give three dates and times when you would be available for the training and that’s it.

In my opinion, it is important that you are very specific because this session can give you so much information and so many tools, and you don’t want to end up with a session about every type of data and resources that’s available to you, because that is just overwhelming. Besides, you can always book as many sessions as you like. So you can take it one step at a time. I just say this, because I found that Bethany had done so much research about my questions that it almost felt like she was left with a bit of information that she just didn’t have the time to show me (sessions last one hour).

Now, enough about my excitement and about paying compliments, let’s get down to the meat of what I actually learned:

  • SAGE Research Methods Online: this is an essential resource and I use it every time now. Especially for those occupied with their methodological stuff, this is brilliant. It is interactive and easy to use, it links to all kinds of methodological material that are useful to learn about methods, to write about methods you already know about, to consider methods you may want to use. I particularly like the Methods Map, because it gives you an overview of the available methods, types of analysis you can conduct with this and that method, the way you can classify information. Honestly, for me it was very useful especially because I was considering the use of methods I hadn’t worked with before, so it gave me a great overview. The Project Planner is brilliant! I can’t believe I didn’t know about this when I was writing my research outline: it gives you so much to think about (and work with) what it means to do research. It helps you think about choosing a topic and doing a literature reviews, picking methods. And at each stage it gives you links to bibliography relevant to that topic. It really is something everybody should know about, and not only in the first year of their PhD.
  • Database searches: now, you may think that everybody knows about searching databases rather than the library catalogue… well it simply didn’t occur to me! I had spent hours and hours trying to find stuff for my literature review. In my one to one session I learned where to look for stuff (which were the best databases), how to save and import my searches to my references manager, how to create alerts about specific topics, etc. My searches are so much more accurate now.
  • Library catalogue: she even brought me a book that she thought would be useful (and it was). I also learned [how] to use the catalogue for specific things.
  • Library online resources: for my specific subject (British citizenship and naturalisation) the Library Other Guides (in Subject Guides and Support) have so much to offer me, because I can access results from surveys, newspaper articles, official publications (to get the policies I wanted to learn how to analyse), etc.

I am sure there are many things I am leaving out, because I had actually put everything I could imagine to want to know in my request for a session. Now I have learned that once I am done processing all the information I got and am done using it, I will request another session for the doubts and needs that arise. I found this service to be so useful, I confess I even felt shy about the amount of work I had given Bethany but she reassured me saying: this is my job!

If you haven’t tried it, give it a go, I promise it will be the best spent hour in a while. If you have tried it want to share your experiences, write us and tell us about or comment here 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Marian

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