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CamGuides: Finding and Using Resources


There is no dearth of information or resources in Cambridge.

- MPhil International Development student, 2017-18

Graduate students routinely use information in lots of different formats and track this information down in a variety of ways.

Your use of resources will include things like:

  • acquiring materials and information independently, using a wide range of methods
  • interpreting and analysing this
  • assimilating and synthesising information
  • critically examining what you read

It will also, crucially, involve techniques related to information management and data management.

What's in this section?

In this section of CamGuides we'll cover some of the key methods you'll be using to locate, analyse and interpret information in your subject. We'll identify some of the principal catalogues and search engines you will use, and where to find subject-specific resources, databases and other sources of information relevant to your research and interests.

We'll look at developing some serious search strategies for tracking down information in an effective and scholarly way, how to get access to the things that you find, and some techniques to think critically about the information, ideas or data you discover.

a blue clock face indicating 30 minutesTo complete this section, you'll need:

  • Approximately 30 minutes.
  • Access to the internet. Nearly all the resources mentioned here are available freely; where an institutional subscription is required, this is made clear.
  • A personal policy to work through each part, or select the ones you feel are most relevant. Either approach is fine, and valid.
  • Nothing else. To complete this section, you don't need to sign up to any platform or give away any personal details.
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What kind of information do you use?

Make a list of the types of information that are relevant to your subject - e.g. technical reports, law records or proceedings, research data, fiction or poetry, academic criticism, clinical trials, white papers, or more. What kind of information do you need?

Now think about the container for that information. Is it predominantly books or ebooks, journals, news and social media, conference proceedings, grey literature (i.e. not published commercially)?

Having this in your mind as you read and work through the next few sections will help you to contextualise it in relation to your subject.


With thanks to:

#1 Deepa Iyer (MPhil International Development)

#2 and 5 Anya Melkina (MPhil Japanese Studies)

#3 and 6 Tooshan Srivastava (MPhil Education)

#4 Nicole Tamer (MPhil Linguistics)

Image credits

CC0 by StockSnap via Pixabay