It may sound obvious but it is easiest to find items when you know what you are looking for! However, in a physical library there are too many resources for you to necessarily know where to start looking. Thankfully, help is at hand! Catalogues and databases index material to help you retrieve it in person or online. iDiscover is the University of Cambridge's catalogue, which contains millions of records for books, journals and journal articles and enable you to access them in person or online.
We are going to focus on the main two forms of written work that you’ll be asked to consult:
Academic books are also called monographs. They communicate a series of ideas around a single theme and, usually, comprise chapters. Non-fiction works summarise a field of research and communicate new and innovative contributions or insights. There may be one or many authors, who may share ownership or put their name to certain chapters. Books are often around 50 - 80,000 words in length. They are available in print and/or online.
The reference should include the following information, though possibly in a different order and with different punctuation:
An edited book is a collection of chapters written by several authors and compiled and commissioned by one or more editors who have oversight to ensure that the book retains a narrative.
The reference for an edited book looks a bit different. Please note that you need to search for the BOOK title (in italics in this case) and not the chapter title in iDiscover.
These are shorter works that communicate new research findings. A researcher submits an article on a particular topic to a journal which often publishes on a sub-discipline of a subject area, though there are some overarching journal titles. The article is peer reviewed by other researchers who work on similar topics. If they and the journal editors feel it is of high enough quality and relevance to the journal, they will publish it in an issue. Each issue will have a limited number of articles in it, up to about 20. Each article is distinct from the others, unless it appears in a 'special issue' with articles grouped around a theme. Typically around 8-12 000 words, articles are more specific than books and so are useful in attending to a particular question, but less relevant if you want an overview or in depth exploration of a subject. Generally you'll find that these are available only online, although the university still subscribes to some print versions.
Search by article title to get straight to the resource. A search for the journal title will return everything ever published under that name. iDiscover contains lots of journal articles but not everything, so you should also consult our databases to find out more.
You’ll also be encouraged to consult primary sources, conference papers, legal cases, reports, news items and other forms of literature depending on your subject area.
You can borrow from your Faculty or Departmental Library, the University Library and Wolfson College Libary.
Don't scroll through 1000s of results: remember to use the advanced option next to the search box. Enter as many details as you can (author, title, date etc) to get to the item straight away. Alternatively you can limit your search using the menu on the right hand side of the results screen.
Access: If you are looking in a departmental library, is it open when you need the book? Can you access it online instead? Most ebooks are available anywhere in the world, with your Raven access, but some can only be accessed from certain computers in specific libraries. Check the record carefully to find out availability. Help and more information is available on the ebooks LibGuide.
Download item details to reference management software such as Zotero or Medeley
Email details of a book to yourself so that you can quickly find it again
Watch this video to show you how to log in to iDiscover, view your account, save searches and reserve a book that it is on loan.