Finding and using information when writing assignments

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    Searching online

    There are different places to search for different types of information. Choosing the right one will make your literature searching faster and more successful.

    • LibrarySearch is for searching for books, ebooks, journals, individual journal articles, images, and other types of information sources all at the same time. It is a useful place to start your literature searching, though it doesn't search all our resources (some of the databases and online resources are not searched) and sometimes the number of results LibrarySearch gives can be overwhelming.
    • Databases and Online Resources contain many different types of information, though journal articles are the main type of information you will find on most databases.

    Searching at the shelf

    A good way to quickly find lots of information on a topic is to 'browse at the shelf'. That means to find out the shelfmark of the books on a particular subject (perhaps by doing a keyword search on the Library Catalogue) and then looking through the books on that shelf and nearby shelves for useful information on the topic you are researching.

    Key shelfmarks for Planning and Urban Design:

    (The links below will search the Library Catalogue for print books at those shelfmarks)

    • 711 Planning (introduction to the subject, planning in general)
    • 711.01 Planning theory
    • 711.132 Sustainable development (& also 333.7)
    • 711.173 Planning procedures
    • 711.3 Regional planning
    • 711.39 Rural planning
    • 711.4 Urban design, urban planning
    • 711.404 Regeneration
    • 711.424 Planning for historic conservation
    • 711.523 City centre planning
    • 711.53 Planning of open spaces in urban areas
    • 711.59 Planning for housing
    • 711.7 Transport planning
    • 712 Landscape design
    • 712.4 Urban landscape design
    • 713 Design / layout of streets

    Other relevant shelfmarks:

    • 300.72 Research methods in social sciences
    • 307.76 Cities (sociology etc)
    • 346.044 Historic buildings law
    • 346.045 Planning law
    • 690.24 Maintenance and repair of buildings
    • 720.288 Conservation, preservation and restoration of buildings
    • 720.9 Architectural history (general, subdivided geographically)

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    Whenever you are reading a book, journal article, website, or anything else which will inform your assignments you should be asking yourself questions about the quality and reliability of that source of information. Here are some questions you could ask yourself:

    Author and audience

    Who has written and published this information? Is there a conflict of interest or a possible bias? Are they an expert or an authority on the issue?
    Why are they writing and publishing this information? What is the benefit for them and the intended effect on the audience?
    Who is the author aiming this publication at? It might be an academic audience, a professional audience, a student audience, or a general audience.

    Evidence and age

    What evidence has the author provided to support what they are saying? How reliable and convincing is that evidence? Have they referred to other literature on the topic and have they provided full references so that you can find that literature?
    When does this information date from? How much does the age of the publication matter for the topic that it is written about?

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    Referencing (also called "citing your sources") is telling the person reading your work what books, journal articles, and other sources of information you used to inform your assignment. You can read more about referencing on the library's Referencing and plagiarism page.

    • Referencing style: there are lots of different ways to do referencing, but the referencing style you should use is Brookes Harvard. There is a Brookes Harvard guide that describes how to reference the main information sources, while Cite Them Right Online will show you how to reference more unusual sources of information.
    • Reference managers: lots of tools exist to help you with referencing. Two popular reference managers at Oxford Brookes are the online tools EndNote Web and RefMe (both also have apps).