It seems rather fitting to base this blog around ‘best ways to search for revision help,’ since today the English Literature exams begin! I’d also like to make you aware that next week (in Australia) is classed as ‘Library and Information Week.’ The aim of this event is to get the community more involved and to show the best features of libraries, demonstrating how you can get the most out of your membership. Why not celebrate this event in the UK too? The internet is a powerful tool and it has all but obliterated local libraries, but please never underestimate the power of certain physical, paperback books.
So, I intend to focus on how to get the best results, when you need revision materials on a certain topic. Please note this advice can also apply to virtually anyone seeking information on a given subject! Firstly, let me list the old fashioned way – paperback books. So, how can you access the books you need? There are several solutions listed below:
1) The local library. It’s usually free to sign up, but you must ensure you check the charges for other services and return your loan books in plenty of time to avoid fees. Your local librarian will probably provide an excellent tour, explaining how the books are organised etc. Usually you should also be able to pick up leaflets or access a computer search database for books. If all else fails, have a wander round and try to find themes. Can you notice separation in particular genres? Remember – for a fee – your local library may also be able to order additional books in.
2) Purchase through websites such as Amazon. If you know the book is useful and you want your own copy, there are internet sites such as Amazon available, but also your physical book stores such as WHSmith. Access to books and learning material is actually quite a nice gift to give someone. SVM Europe provide gift cards for brands such as Amazon & WHSmith, so if you’d like more information visit: http://www.svmeurope.co.uk/. E-books can also be purchased through i-Tunes (please note that SVM also offer i-Tunes gifting solutions!)
3) Lend from a friend, teacher or lecturer!
4) You can sometimes access free books, or at least free samples, from https://books.google.com/
The second question is more pressing. How do you decide if the book is relevant to your course? Firstly, check the title and reviews. Reviews can often be located on a Google search. You can also look at the contents page for an overview of topics or skim read. If you need information on something not listed explicitly in the contents, we also advise that you search the Index. The Index is usually at the back of the book and it is typically ordered alphabetically.
Ok – what are the other sources of information? Your peers can sometimes provide knowledgeable advice (but remember, don’t believe everything people tell you – still do your research!) Aside from these information outlets, I will focus the last part of this blog on the main other source: the internet. So, which websites are good sources of information? See below:
1) Google. Yes, google is great, but be very wary of the results. Wikipedia can be especially unreliable, which I’m sure you’ve heard 1,000 times! Check the publisher – check if it’s from an official source or group.
2) Google Scholar. This is a slightly more reliable version of Google, aimed specifically at student research. Give it a try: https://scholar.google.co.uk/. There’s also an advanced search option if you require it, which will let you specify exactly what you need.