Students talking with a whiteboard in the background

MY592: information literacy for PhD students

Essential sources and tools for your research

This course will help research students better understand the skills required to undertake efficient research.

This course will help research students take full advantage of the wealth of material available at LSE. 

Course content

MY592 is a six week programme of 2 hour workshops, which aims to develop students' research skills and introduce the essential sources and tools when undertaking research, and the skills required to use them. It is ideal for research students undertaking an extensive literature search and review.

Students receive detailed advice on the most appropriate Library resources for their research topics. Materials, online activities and assessment will be available in Moodle to support teaching.


  • Six weekly two hour classes.
  • Students are expected to attend all sessions in order to develop their information literacy skills.
  • Support materials, online activities and assessment will be available via Moodle.
  • MY592 will run in Michaelmas and Lent terms, and in the Summer term subject to demand.

Not all sessions will last for two hours, this will allow for individual contact time at the end of the classes with class tutors.

If you only wish to attend an individual workshop, consult the Information Skills and Digital Literacy programmes offered by the Library and Learning, Technology and Innovation on the Training and Development System.


First and second year research students and MSc Social Research Methods students. If you are registered as MRes student please email us to request a place on the course MY592.

Workshop on Information Literacy is part of the PhD Support service provided by the Library. it makes up part of a series of workshops from the Department of Methodology and is taught by staff from the Library and Learning, Technology and Innovation.


1. Introduction & undertaking a literature search

The first session provides a course overview and will explore literature searching principles, tips and techniques for your literature reviews, including devising appropriate search strategies. Discover how to identify and use relevant online resources for your subject. These will include IBSS, Scopus and the Social Science Citation Index and further subject specific resources. We will look at how to start managing the literature that you find and setting up alerts and saved searches.

2. Using the internet for your research

This workshop discusses the range of content available via the web, contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of web-based research, including: comparing advanced features of search engines such as Google; finding relevant scholarly literature on your research topic; contrasting bibliographic databases and specialist search engines with internet search engines, and discussing the appropriate merits of each valuating material on the internet using standard criteria. You will also have a chance to set up alerts and a feed reader to enable you to keep up to date with the wealth of online information.

3. Finding theses, conference papers & specialist research materials

This session examines a number of specialist search engines to locate research publications appropriate to your topic. We will discuss the concept of 'open access' materials and demonstrate how to locate these works. We will use databases such as EThOs and Index to Theses for finding theses and specialist search engines to locate conference and working papers.

4. Dealing with data, news, archives and official publications

This session examines the value of primary sources most particularly data, newspapers, official publications and archives. You will examine methods for searching, using and exporting quantitative datasets and explore the major data archives available from LSE's extensive Data Library. You will also learn how to identify and find the key primary sources for your topic and how to use these specialist materials, such as newspapers and official government and IGO materials.

5. Managing information

Session five covers good practice techniques when citing and referencing in your thesis and other written academic work. You will explore some of the tools available to save time and manage your research materials such as EndNote, Mendely or Zotero, all of which can be used to store your references and enable you to create instant consistently formatted bibliographies in Word. You will examine the different features of these citation management tools and consider which will work for you.

6. Next steps:  sharing your research and building a network

Your initial literature review is only the start of your research process. In this session you will have a chance to review the materials you have found to date and refine your searching. We'll also consider how you might start to extend your academic network and explore appropriate ways of sharing some of your early research findings. We'll look at how to find suitable conferences or forums for disseminating your research, the use of email discussion lists, blogs and how to build a suitable web presence to support your future work.

Teaching team

Maria Bell
Learning Support Services
Tel: 020 7955 7242 

Clive Wilson
Academic Support Librarian
Tel: 020 7955 7475  

Paul Horsler
Academic Support Librarian
Tel: 020 7955 6354 

Ellen Wilkinson
Academic Support Librarian
Tel: 020 7955 6913