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Dissertation and research project success

Accessing resources

How to find and use resources for your dissertation or research project, including specialist subject resources and resources from outside York St John.

Shelves of books in the library

Gathering resources makes up a significant part of the preparation for your research project.

Our guidance is here to support you with finding and accessing resources. Jump to a section of the page to find out more:

Specialist subject resources for literature reviews

Most dissertations will have a literature review. Sometimes the entire project will be based on the literature (for example, a critical literature review), but mainly the review will provide the reader with the context for your research project.

When you begin your literature review, there are some key questions to consider:

  • What has been written or created on this topic before, if anything?
  • What has been published in linked areas?
  • What does your research add to the existing works?

Make sure to check for recommended reading from your tutors on the general concepts of carrying out research in your subject area. There are reading lists linked to your dissertation modules.

You can use the Library catalogue to find books, journal articles, and other resources. To search for specific information, use the Specialist Subject Resources database list and filter by subject area or type of resource.

Types of resource

When searching for dissertation or research project resources, you may find types of information you haven't used before during your course. Two common types are theses and conference papers.


When researchers do postgraduate degrees, their resulting work is published.

If you find a thesis about or related to your topic, it can be a valuable source for both its own research and conclusions, and in studying the works they used in their own literature review.

You can often find these works online, though specialist subject search tools, the researcher's university website, or through the British Library's dedicated thesis service, EThOS.

Conference papers

Research is often published as journal articles once the project has finished, but researchers present their research in progress at conferences.  Conference papers are written reports of these presentations, and can be found in subject specific search tools, and on Google Scholar.

Referencing sources

Make sure you are following the correct referencing guidelines for new sources by using the Library's Referencing guides.

Resources outside York St John University

Our library service isn't limited to the online subscriptions we buy or the physical books we provide on campus. We also make sure we keep access open to other information providers, so you can use as many collections as you need.

Your York St John Library membership includes unlimited inter-library loans, including online access to journals at the British Library. You can also use our Open Access tools to check for free, open access versions of the research you need.

Open Access research

A lot of the research you access in journals and books is paid for by our Library and Learning Services department. This is why you need passwords for online access. However, there is a growing movement to make sure that as much research as possible is made available to the public, without payment or barriers.

Several different routes to find Open Access works are available. These include:

If you want to find out more about these tools and how they can help your research, contact your Academic Liaison Librarian.

Inter-library loans

In general we buy resources for the taught aspects of your course, but your individual research is specific to your own interest. This means that another library may hold more material on your chosen topic than we do.

We can order these resources for you through our inter-library loans service. There is no charge to you for the service and no restriction on the total number of requests. Find out more on our dedicated pages.

Inter-library loans

British Library reading rooms

You can access British Library resources at their reading room in Boston Spa, near Leeds. Visit their website for current information on accessing the reading room.

British Library Boston Spa reading room

Other university libraries

  • SCONUL Access: The SCONUL Access scheme allows you to either visit other university libraries to use their collections, or borrow from them, depending upon the type of course you are on. This is particularly useful if you are on placement or live near another university. To find the most up to date information about the scheme, visit the SCONUL Access website.
  • Eduroam: The eduroam WiFi service, which is what you use to connect on campus, works in the majority of other universities too. Once you are connected to the WiFi available at our campus, you should also be able to use your York St John login details to connect automatically on other participating campuses across the UK and beyond.