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Advanced online training: Improve your searching skills

Throughout this course we will show you how to use more advanced library resources and improve your searching skills to support your studies and research

Improve your searching skills


This online training is made up of a number of short tutorials aimed at students who are confident that they have a basic knowledge of the library and its services and want to improve their searching skills.


You can choose to look at any or all of the tutorials, but remember they can be revisited at any time during the year. Some tutorials have audio so don’t forget your headphones! Headphone photo. Source: OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay. Creative Commons 0.

If you are new to Southampton or had a break from studying, before progressing to the tutorials please look at the following: 


  • Online training -  from the basics to searching smarter - learn how to use library resources
  • check out the Getting Started page particularly if you are new to this University
  • know how to use our catalogue and discovery tools WebCat & DelphiS by watching the tutorials provided

We wish you success in your studies!

Shutterstock image 552525253Subject guides and subject databases

Subject Guides are the place to start if you need help or resources linked to your area of study. Your Academic Engagement Librarian has put together specific subject resources including subject databases which will help you find quickly and easily, current information on research and development for example, whether it is for an assignment, an individual or group project or for your dissertation. Find out how by following our Subject guide tutorial here.

ShutterStock image 279648503Advanced searching strategies - getting the best out of databases

Improve your database searching skills by using more advanced options such as thesaurus searching, citation searching, setting up alerts and saving searches.

Subject Headings Searching uses a ‘controlled vocabulary’ also known as MeSH Headings (Medical Subject Headings) or Thesaurus Searching, these headings are applied consistently which means that once you have identified the  correct thesaurus term you do not need to consider synonyms, different word endings or alternative spellings. Follow our Subject/Thesaurus searching tutorial  

Citation searching - allows you to search the published literature, to locate new articles which cite your known reference in their bibliographies. Follow our Citation searching tutorial here.

Keep up to date by following our Saving Searches tutorial. By the end of this tutorial you should be able to save your searches and set alerts

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Citing and Referencing

Citing and referencing your work correctly is essential. If you acknowledge the work of others you are acting with academic integrity and taking steps to avoid plagiarising someone else's work. You are also allowing your reader to trace your line of research.

Referencing at the university

Our citing and referencing library guide has 

  • information about preferred referencing styles used at the university

  • instructions or style guides to help you correctly format your references

Referencing software

There are several reference software tools that you can use to organise and manage references. These tools help you to keep track of your literature and some can be used to store your pdf files - visit our referencing software library guide for more information.

Shutterstock image 283302101Evaluating Information

With so much information available, how do you decide what to use? Watch this interactive learning activity on evaluating information to help you find relevant, good quality information.  Allow 7 minutes to complete this learning activity.

By the end of this activity you should be able to:

  • recognise the difference between 'good' and 'bad' information
  • think critically and understand how to find good quality, reliable information
  • know how to get more help if you need it

Academic Skills Support

As you work through your course you may need support with academic skills. Learn more about our academic skills services including face to face and online support.


We provide guidance on becoming an effective learner which will allow you to develop transferable skills to use in your studies and in the workplace. 

Image shutterstock 560422843Key services

We may not have everything you need so here are some key services to know about:

Other Library Catalogues - such as COPAC (catalogue of over 70 UK university, research & specialist libraries), the British Library and local public libraries among others.

Inter-Library Loansrequest items not available from our own stock. Each student has an annual quota – check to see what yours is!

SCONUL – access collections of other University and specialist libraries. The SCONUL access scheme will allow you to visit most university libraries in the UK and Ireland and are extremely useful in vacations if you live close to another University town. Note: Taught and research postgraduates are also able to borrow material. 

Shutterstock image 588002996Off Campus Access .. to library resources from any location on any device

Library resources can be accessed using different devices and in different ways when working off-campus. Recognise resources that require an Institutional login, their own unique passwords, or are freely available. Follow our online tutorial here.

Acknowledgement (click to read more...)

All images used and edited with permission.

Image of ipad and pages by shutterstock_552525253

Image of book and quotation marks by shutterstock_374848786

Image of two signs with v tick and x mark by shutterstock_283302101

Image of planet earth in search input field by shutterstock_279648503

Image of laptop and magnitude glass by shutterstock_560422843

Image of planet earth by shutterstock_588002996


Give Feedback

You can contact us in a number of ways:

by email:

by phone: 02380 593692

Contact Library Sites direct


Library Chat

The library chat service is staffed 10am - 5pm Monday to Friday, except for University closed days. Click the image below to open chat.

Click here to open online chat

You will be asked to log in using your university password. If you don't have one, or have forgotten your log in details you can send us your question through the library enquiry form

Online learning courses from Learn with Lynda

Academic Skills - improve your skills for academic success

Skills4StudyCampus (interactive module giving guidance and techniques on reading skills, critical thinking, academic writing, notemaking, plagiarism, and more)

Don't forget ..

Getting Started for people new to the library!

Skills for Success workshops : book online or just drop in to our help sessions!

Online tutorials supporting our online databases plus in-house tutorials created by the UofSLibrary

Off campus access .. to library resources from any location on any device

Log in to Skills4Study Campus to download the relevant interactive modules or go directly to ..

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Writing Skills

Just got an assignment? Not sure how to start?  This Assignment Planner is a step-by-step guide to help you plan, organise and find the resources you need to complete your assignment. You can save your work and return to the planner at any time.

Click on this link for transcripts of the Library online training learning activities.

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Helpful videos

Find out how your Academic Engagement Librarian can help you!

What are Subject Databases?

produced by the Yavapai College Library