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Research Guide

The library holds a wide range of specialist books, journals, databases and archives to support and inspire postgraduate research students and staff undertaking research.  There are librarians to help you find, access and use resources effectively to shape and inform your research. Building upon the Library Induction this guide will help you understand -

  • how to find research resources
  • how to use resources when doing your research
  • becoming part of the research community
  • how to disseminate your research
  • where to get help when needed

The library is here to help - Contact the Library.

LibrarySearch provides the easiest way to find and access library print and online resources. It allows you to search across almost all library collections and resources, whether you are on or off campus.  For more information about finding resources see Finding and Accessing Collections and how to search effectively see Searching Techniques.

Requesting Resources The library collections holds a wide range of specialist arts books, journals, databases, dissertations, research and archives to inspire your teaching and creative practice.  For more information about all the library collections and resources see Finding and Accessing Collections.

  • Borrowing
    Staff can borrow 30 items including books and DVDs.  For more information about accessing resources see Borrowing and Accounts.
  • Electronic Resources
    When accessing electronic resources off campus you'll need to login using your University username and password.  For more information about logging into electronic resources from off campus see Finding and Accessing Collections.

If the Library doesn't have what you are looking for, it is possible to obtain many resources either from another campus via Click & Collect or from another library via Document Supply.  The Library is also happy to take recommendations for resources, subject to budget and financial regulations.  For more information about obtaining resources see Requesting Resources.

SCONUL logoThe University is a member of the national SCONUL Access Scheme, which enables most students and staff to visit other UK university libraries to use their facilities and resources free of charge.  For more information see Using Other Libraries

The University's Archives and Special Collections offer rare and unique records, such as original letters and artwork, with particular strengths in arts activism, animation and photography.

For inspiration and research, we are open to all by appointment, whether you fancy taking a look at Roobarb in the animation archive of Bob Godfrey, our art school archives, or our activist collections, including work by photographer Tessa Boffin.

For more information see Archives & Special Collections.

The Library holds University PhD theses in print format up until 2017, and from 2017 in electronic format via UCARO. A small selection of these are on embargo for a period of time, usually due to commercial sensitivities. If you need help locating a University thesis, contact

The e-thesis online service (EThOS) from the British Library is the UK’s national thesis service and provides online access to the full-text of UK doctoral theses. There is no single source for finding non-UK theses, and there are several options -

Subject resources bring together a range of specialist resources for your area of study, including databases, book shelf numbers, journals, images and archive collections.

Liaison Librarians are also available at each UCA campus to support you with your research needs. They can help you with finding and evaluating information sources, using online resources, and can provide expert advice on what the library has to offer.

A number of publishers provide free email alerting services, which will tell you the details of a new article published in your journal or subject of interest, for example, the alerts from Taylor & Francis.

There are free alerting services, such as JournalTOCS, which cover a large number of journal publishers simultaneously. You can sign up to receive emails with the most recent table of contents from your selected journals or subject of interest. For other types of scholarly literature, you can sign up to receive alerts from many of the databases that UCA subscribes to and Google Scholar.

Google Alerts will monitor the web for new content matching your interests, and websites such as Visualping will monitor pages for changes. There are various ways you can connect with other researchers online and learn about new research – for more information see the Community tab in this guide.

Knowing how you learn best enables you to organise your workload so that you make time for research.  Learning Development Tutors can work with you to explore learning approaches best suited to you and your research. For more information about time management see Time Management.

Choosing areas of theory and practice to research can be challenging and time-consuming.  Learning Development Tutors and Liaison Librarians can work with you to scope your project so that you identify suitable information resources.  Reviewing literature and other work requires a combination of reading strategies, critical questioning and note-taking approaches, which Learning Development Tutors can also advise on. For more information about literature reviews, see Literature Review.

The research methods you choose will depend on your research methodology.  Sources available to you for support with choosing which research methods to use include your supervisors, peers and colleagues, as well as Library staff, many of whom are research active.  There are also a great number of Library resources available to you.

Liaison Librarians can help you find relevant sources of information for designing your research methodology and your research methods.  Learning Development Tutors can also work with you so that you choose research methods appropriate to your research methodology. Some useful links about research methodology and research methods include -

Reporting research can take many forms including written, verbal, visual or multi-sensory formats.  The form of report will vary according to the purpose of your report and the audience you are reporting to.  Learning Development Tutors can help you explore the different reporting and writing formats so that you can choose an approach which best suits your purpose and intended audience.

See also the blogs about academic writing by Professor Pat Thomson at and by Professor Inger Mewburn at

The University uses the Harvard method of referencing. Our guide to UCA Harvard Referencing  outlines the requirements and provides detailed examples.

Reference management software is a vital, time saving tool.  You can bookmark references as you find them, such as when searching LibrarySearch, databases or websites.  The software will also store articles, as well as giving you the functionality to add notes and annotations to them.  When it comes to writing and reporting your research the software will enable you to add citations into your text as you write, and will format your bibliography in the UCA Harvard Style, or allow you to switch easily to alternative styles that might be needed by publishers.

The Library provides support for Paperpile and Zotero.  Paperpile is a web based tool that works with Google products as well as Microsoft Word.  You can access it easily on any computer with a Chrome browser.  Zotero is an open source program that requires a piece of software on your computer, which is free to install.  For more information about referencing tools and how to use them see Referencing Tools.

The University is committed to supporting good practice in research and scholarly activity.  Conducting research in accordance with ethical principles is of fundamental importance.

As a researcher at whatever level, whether undergraduate, postgraduate or staff, your research project needs considering in ethical terms.  To help with this, we have devised the Tier 1 checklist, which will lead you through key questions on the ethical points to consider for your research project.  You can discuss any ethical implications with your Tutor, Course Leader or Supervisor as appropriate.  Alll researchers must confirm that they have read the UCA Research Ethics Code of Practice, as part of the Tier 1 checklist.  You may not need any further review, and your Tutor, Course Leader, Course Committee or Supervisor can approve, sign and file your Tier 1 form with your School/Department. You can then start your research.

If, however, further ethical consideration is necessary (the Tier 1 checklist will help you with this decision) you will need to complete the Tier 2 checklist.  This form leads you through the key areas of consideration and must be discussed and signed by your Tutor, Course Leader, Course Committee or Supervisor as appropriate, and submitted to the University Research and Enterprise Committee for approval.

You can find the UCA Research Ethics Code of Practice and Tier 1 and Tier 2 checklist on our website.  For further information contact the Research office at

It is important to remember that you must not start your research until granted ethical approval.

In the course of your research, you will most likely find you need to copy resources that are protected by UK copyright law.  It is your responsibility, as a researcher, to ensure that you have the appropriate exception, licence or permissions in place when using third-party resources. For more information about using third-party resources for academic purposes see Copyright.

The University is committed to ensuring staff and students uphold the highest standards of academic integrity and ethics.  The Library offers information and advice to help you to ensure your work is original and that you avoid intentional and unintentional plagiarism.  Research must be carried out with the utmost respect and a responsibility to give due credit to the person(s) who originally created the work you cite or reference.  The University’s policy on Academic Integrity should be read carefully.  Work that contains plagiarism will be dealt with seriously and may be referred to an Academic Misconduct Panel as detailed in the Academic Misconduct Regulations. For more information about academic integrity, see the Academic Integrity Toolkit.

Managing research data effectively can ensure you meet research funder requirements (for example, Research Councils UK), make it easier to re-visit your research if changes are required, enable easier access to your research for re-use in other projects and help avoid re-doing research from scratch due to lost or inaccessible data.

Defining research data in the arts is challenging.  It could be described as any information or material you gather or produce in the course of research.  The terminology does not readily translate to artistic practice, and some researchers have suggested replacing the word ‘data’ with alternative terms.

The University has a Research Data Management Policy.  The Library has produced a guide and several online toolkits for arts researchers, which introduce you to research data management, for further information see - Research Data Management.  The UK Data Archive has also produced useful online advice on creating and managing data.  For further information and guidance contact -

UCA Research Online (UCARO) is the University's open access research repository, providing free online access to research outputs by its staff and PhD students.  This could be your work exhibited as a gallery, a book chapter you have written, a journal article or a conference paper.  Making your work open access will increase its visibility and help to raise your profile, and perhaps increase your work’s citation rates.  Open access is also a requirement for the Research Excellent Framework (REF), which is the national system of assessment for research quality in universities.

University researchers and research students can log in and upload their outputs.  In addition, research students need to email approval from your supervisor to

UCA Research Online also holds University PhD theses.  Once online these will then be findable via search engines and academic databases like the British Library’s EThOS and Google Scholar, so people can discover your work and learn what you do.  The full text will be downloadable in PDF format, but you will still own the copyright and are free to take up any offers of publication.  For help, contact

Bibliometrics can help you to identify key journals or authors within your research area or the level of interest in your own research.  They commonly focus on the citation analysis of journal articles and the number of citations received.  These metrics can be controversial in the arts where there is much reliance on monographs and many research outputs are practice-based.

Altmetrics are a new, alternative form of metrics that measure the attention your research outputs receive via social media and the Internet. and are two tools to help you track the altmetrics for your outputs, bringing together information from many different online sources.

We can also provide usage statistics for your outputs and thesis on UCA Research Online.  See the UCA Research Online Statistics or contact

The Library offers a Digitisation Studio at Farnham which hosts a range of equipment to help you create high quality digital resources from your practice.  For further information see Digitisation Studio.

A community of researchers exists around every area of research.  Identifying and engaging with the community that surrounds your chosen topic will enable you to keep up to date with the latest research in your field, and also help raise your profile and visibility.  The good news is that doing this is easier than ever thanks to social networking tools, so it’s important for you to develop a basic understanding of how to use these tools to develop your professional research network.  To find out more, look out for webinars put on by the Research Office that will introduce you to networking tools and techniques.

Clarifying your purpose and audience enables you to plan a presentation which is suitably pitched and engages the people you are presenting to.  It also enables you to decide how best to present your research – at a conference, for peer review, through publication, online or face to face.  Learning Development Tutors can work with you so that you are clear about who you are presenting to and why.  From this you can design a successful presentation.

Career planning and management are important for researchers.  Whether you are a part time or full time researcher, the University Careers Advisers can work with you to explore options and to plan your career.

You can arrange a confidential careers guidance consultation at your campus, by telephone or online.  To schedule an appointment, contact your campus Gateway or email the Careers & Employability team via

Research Webinars
The Research Office runs a series of webinars that cover many of the topics in this guide in more detail.  See the latest webinar recordings on myUCA.

UCA are members of Vitae – a global, non-profit organisation, which supports the professional development of researchers.

Membership provides access to a range of resources including online materials, publications and reports, member discounts on events and dedicated member only activities.  Use your UCA email address to register.