2 Finding information for your assignments

Learning Objectives

In this chapter you will learn

  • About what is expected of you at an academic institution
  • About getting started with your assignment work
  • About key sources you can use for your assignments: books and journal articles

Academic expectations

“Beginning University is exciting, but can also be daunting, particularly when remote learning is involved. It is important to seek the many supports available to you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us as lecturers, we want to help as much as we can. Learn to ask questions, learn to think critically and learn to be open to new experiences.”

Catherine Haughton, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Galway

Getting started with your assignments

One of the toughest parts of third-level work can simply be knowing how to get started with an assignment. The Library catalogue which is accessible via the Library website, is your go-to information source for your assignments.  Check out the following videos on how to find and log in to the Library catalogue and how to carry out a search for information on a particular topic.

Find and log in to the Library catalogue

Carry out a search on a particular topic


The Library holds many different types of resources in its collections. The main ones you are likely to use at the moment are books and journals.  Books can be great for finding out background information and context about a topic – but you will often be able to find more current information published in an academic journal article.  Academic or scholarly journals are very particular kinds of information sources.  They are where scholars working in their specialised fields of study publish articles  to let other specialists, students and anyone else interested know the latest of what’s going on in their work. Due to factors like technical or specialised language academic journals can be challenging at first, but are well worth digging into and are very important sources of information for your assignments.

Finding books

The Library provides you with access to both print and electronic books.  Some books are available only in one format – only print or only electronic – however lots of titles are available in both formats.  You use the Library catalogue to find out: what books (both print and electronic) are available, where print books are located in the Library, and to access electronic books or ‘EBooks’. The following videos show you how to do this.

Search for print books using the Library catalogue

Locate a print book in the Library

Search and access electronic books using the Library catalogue

Finding journals articles

The vast majority of journals are available in electronic format. These may be accessed directly from the Library catalogue as demonstrated in the following video.  As a registered student you can access all electronic resources in the Library’s collection at any time, and from any location with internet access; the only requirement is that you are logged in to your Library account.  A small number of journals are available in print, click through to Part 2 of the video to learn how to find these in the Library.

Search for journal articles using the Library catalogue

What is peer-review?

Finally, you might have heard or will hear people talk about ‘peer-reviewed’ journals and journal articles. Peer-review is an important part of the publication of scholarly information, including journal articles. Articles that appear in peer-reviewed journals are scrutinised not only by an editor but also by a panel of experts in the subject area who provide feedback and might make recommendations. This is why peer-reviewed scholarly information is considered to be very authoritative – not only is it produced by experts; is it then reviewed by other experts before it can be published in the peer-reviewed academic journal.  Not all academic journals are peer-reviewed, however most are.  You can use the filters in the Library catalogue to refine your search to peer-reviewed journals only.


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