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Bibliographic research: how is it done?

Bibliographic research is a crucial part in the process of writing the thesis: it should precede the moment of writing because, before supporting anything, we must document sufficiently and choose whether to adhere to a particular school of thought on the subject we are presenting, or if we simply want to review the theories present.

From our experience of assisting students, we know that this fundamental step often throws the students into crisis. In many faculties one does not become familiar with the typical tools of the search for sources – which we will see shortly – for the simple reason that we do not write enough: many come to graduation without having ever ventured into academic writing.

The problem of sources has become even more significant since anti-plagiarism controls have intensified in many Italian universities: from rare sample checks or at the discretion of teachers, we have gone to real secretarial checks, on the carpet. Remember that a plagiarism charge can compromise your university career, which is why using and quoting your sources well has become essential.

Some valid allies in bibliographic research:

Google Scholar (scholar.google.it): with this search engine you will be able to find all the references of publications in scientific journals or entire books. Sometimes you could also find texts that can already be consulted as complete books or in parts on Google Books or articles in pdf downloadable for free. Scholar is particularly useful while compiling the bibliography: if we search for a text, then it will be enough to click on the icon with the quotation marks to obtain the complete reference with various citation systems (APA, Harvard, Chicago …), copy it and paste it directly into the file on we are working on.

University electronic resources: not everyone knows it, but every Italian university subscribes every year to a large number of magazines that can be consulted online and also has a large number of downloadable or online browsable ebooks. The University of Bologna, for example, has a very rich University proxy, with databases divided by subject area, magazine aggregators, electronic books and much more. You just have to stand there a few hours, armed with holy patience, to then understand that knowing how to use it is equivalent to uncovering the Pandora’s box.

The good old SBA catalog (University Library System): especially for some types of thesis (for example the historical or literary ones), resign yourself to the fact that you will have to spend a lot of time in libraries. Do a thematic search in the online catalog of your library center (for example, in Bologna we have the OPAC: https://sol.unibo.it/SebinaOpac/Opac) and search the results. If you need extremely specific texts that are not present in your library center, remember that there is also interlibrary loan among the libraries of different cities. In libraries you can also find a large number of printed magazines. To check in advance if there is something for you in the magazines available in the library, you can use the national catalog of periodicals (https://acnpsearch.unibo.it/).

The theses of others: no, it’s not a joke! There are dozens of three-year, master’s and doctoral theses on the web. Probably someone will have published a paper on your own subject, or at least on some aspects of it. Explore the bibliography and web sites, you will surely find useful tips! Furthermore, the published doctoral theses can also be mentioned in your thesis.

And the Internet? The fear of incurring plagiarism should not make you fear of using the World Wide Web. For some types of thesis it is even essential to refer to online newspapers, specialist websites, blogs. Always make sure that the sources considered are authoritative and build a large-scale site that accompanies the traditional bibliography.

Are you still puzzled about what to do? Is the deadline very close and do you have little time to select sources? Place your trust in the Sottotesi.it staff! Two services could do for you:

Full bibliographic search with folder sharing with all the articles or books found in pdf;

3h webinar on the use of source search tools and the various usable citation systems.

Contact us for a non-binding quote: the bibliography will no longer be a problem!

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