Literature searching for your Modern Languages dissertation or project

Finding information for a major project such as a dissertation is known as Literature searching.

1. I need to start researching for my dissertation. Where do I begin?

Spend some time planning your research first:

  • Start by thinking about your topic and considering what you want to cover and what you want to exclude.
  • You will not be able to simply type your dissertation title into a database, so you'll need break your topic down into particular aspects or concepts.
  • Think of alternative terms for these concepts.
  • Make a list of all the search terms that best describe your topic. This list can be your starting point for database, Internet and other kinds of searching.
  • More help is available in the guide Literature searching: defining your topic

2. How do I find sources on my topic?

The next stage is to think about what would be the most appropriate resources to use to help you answer your research question. These could include books, journals, newspapers, theses, DVDs, official publications, Internet resources. Consider whether you need specific kinds of information e.g. statistics, very up-to-date research, historical documents etc. The following guides may help you:

3. How do I cite my sources and do a bibliography?

It is vital to cite your sources - so that you acknowledge writers whose works you've used and so that your readers can follow up these sources. Failure to do so could be regarded as plagiarism. Our Web guide to plagiarism has tips on how to avoid this and also provides a link to PLATO - an online tutorial on understanding and avoiding plagiarism.

For guidance on how to reference your sources in the Harvard style, check our Library guide Citing your references using the Harvard (author-date) system or use Cite Them Right Online.

You may also want to use EndNote or EndNote Web. These are services which allow you to collect, store and manage your own collection of references and create bibliographies in your written work.

4. What do I do if the Library doesn't have all the sources I need?

When doing research for an in-depth project such as your dissertation you are likely to come across references to publications which are not held at Oxford Brookes University Library. These items can often be obtained for you via the Interlibrary Loans service or you may be able to use other libraries including the Bodleian.

Accessing the Bodleian and other libraries in Oxford

As a dissertation-level student, you will be able to access the Bodleian Library of Oxford University for reference. Membership includes access to the Taylor Institution Library which will allow you to borrow.You can obtain an application form for the Bodleian Library from the Headington Library Enquiry Desk. Take this form to your supervisor first and then bring it to the Library for your Subject Librarian.

French students may also wish to consult the Maison Francaise Library in Oxford. This Library is open to all and allows you to borrow. They have a video club which allows you to borrow from their collection of videos and DVDs. Membership to borrow books is free, but there is a charge (annual or termly) for a subscription to the video club.

Library Catalogues

5. Where can I get more help?

You are welcome to make an appointment with the Subject Librarian for Languages to discuss your dissertation research in more detail.