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Research Skills

Research is an essential part of any undergraduate degree, with university study focused around the discovery and development of new ideas and solutions. In this sprint you will explore the importance of using reliable sources to inform your work, how to do a comprehensive literature search and the important role the university library takes in student research.

Evaluating Sources

Sources of information are available everywhere: including social media, newspapers and books. Whilst such sources are often valuable, at university students are expected to expand upon such sources to include peer-reviewed articles, which are often found in academic journals. Watch the video below to find out more about identifying and evaluating academic sources at university.

Click on the image to watch how to find out more about identifying and evaluating academic sources at university.

Searching for literature

A large part of a university degree involves reading sources, evaluating them and, where applicable, using them to inform student work. Throughout a degree students are required to read sources critically, and discuss their findings in relation to their own work. Sources are acknowledged by citing the authors when you refer to them, and by listing the sources in full at the end of the work; a process known as referencing. At university it is important to understand the importance of referencing reliable sources, so students don’t accidently claim an author’s work as your own [this is known as plagiarism and is considered to be academic misconduct]. Universities use a range of specialist databases to help staff and students find relevant literature. Watch the video below to find out more about literature searching at university.

Click on the image to watch a video from the Library at Manchester Metropolitan, to find out more about searching for sources at university.

Journal Articles

One of the most common source types students will use whilst completing a degree are academic journal articles. Journals are published collections of papers written by different authors, and which have a number of editions each year. There are already well over 100 different journals published relating to the study of sport. They are used to publish new research and are a great sources of information for staff and students. Examples of sport related journals include the Journal of Sports Sciences, the Journal of Sport History and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Click on the image to find out more about journal articles and when we should use them.

Google Scholar

In addition to search engines provided by universities, a common search tool is Google Scholar. It’s freely accessible to all and produces an extensive search of relevant literature if the correct search terms are used in the Advanced Search funtion. The articles that you find can often be downloaded from Google Scholar as well.

Click on the image to find out more about Google Scholar.

STEP 1: Using Google Scholar (and the tips from the Literature Searching video), find an article on one of the topics listed below. If possible, download the article.

  • The impact of exercise on the cardiovascular system.
  • Goal setting in sport and exercise.
  • The effect of anxiety on exercise performance.
  • Gait disorders in human populations.
  • The ‘This Girl Can’ campaign

STEP 2: Read the article you found in STEP 1 and try to answer the following questions.

  1. What comprises the abstract of the article?
  2. What are the aims of the article?
  3. What were the methods use to collect the data?
  4. What ethical considerations does the study include?
  5. How is the data analysed before being presented?
  6. How is the data presented in the paper?
  7. What were the main findings of the article?