Research Skills Central

Course materials for teachers of information literacy

The research landscape: embedded modular provision

Three graduates celebrating and throwing their mortar boards These two sessions – ‘Introduction to the research landscape’ and ‘Surviving the research process’ – form the backbone of an embedded, modular course of research skills support originally designed for part-time, distance learning masters students.


This embedded provision was piloted with three different subject cohorts all taking the M.St. (Master of Studies) degree course. All three courses lasted for two years, but each one had a different number of residential periods in Cambridge, and therefore a different number of opportunities for me to work with the students!

These two sessions formed the core provision for each cohort. I presented ‘Introduction to the research landscape’ to all students at the beginning of their first year, and ‘Surviving the research process’ at the beginning of the second (dissertation) year, with material from the rest of the programme adapted to fit into the intervals in between. These two sessions therefore anchored the modular curriculum and enabled me to balance the varying needs and availability of each cohort.

Introduction to the research landscape

This year 1 session aims to decode some of the often unexplained conventions of the academic environment – scholarly publication formats and containers, the use of evidence and attribution, the need to engage actively and critically with research information. It also offers pointers and practical suggestions for managing and using information.

Session content:

  • Scholarly formats and appropriate sources
  • Storing your references
  • Using other people’s work
  • Reading strategically

Slides (November 2013)

Handouts from other courses in the programme are distributed during the session

Surviving the research process

In the course of the students’ first year, following on from ‘Introduction to the Research Landscape’, I would aim to cover the following aspects of the research process in the course of their residential periods:

  • Literature searching
  • Active notemaking and futureproofing information
  • Referencing and attribution
  • Using evidence

The second-year course ‘Surviving the research process’ revisits each of these aspects, allowing  students to reflect on their practices and to revisit and reinforce learning from previous sessions. It also invites them to consider whether their current practices will serve them during the heightened pressure of the dissertation research period, or whether they need to enhance their existing approach in any way.The session concludes by looking at

  • the iterative nature of the research process
  • good practice tips on research data management
  • ‘survival strategies’ for staying on top of research

Slides (November 2013)

Handouts from other courses in the programme are distributed during the session

Creative Commons Licence
‘Introduction to the Research Landscape’ and ‘Surviving the Research Process’ by Emma Coonan are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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