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American Studies: How To

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

How to...

This page contains resources to help with your assignments and doing research. If you have any questions please email -

Getting the book you need

It's very important to Request the books you want if they're out on loan. If you don't, they may be renewed by the person who has borrowed them.

Don't forget to check iFind for ebooks too if print books aren't available.

Books are a great place to start when you're researching information for your assignment, but remember to look at journal articles and other reliable sources of information too. 

Click the Key Resources section above to see the best places to search for information.

How to find journal articles

You may think you can get all the information you need from books and websites, but it's a good idea to include journal articles in your research too. Academic journals are an excellent source of scholarly information on your topic. Here are a few tips for finding journal articles:-

  • Use the Articles & more search in iFind, especially if you know the name of the article you want
  • You'll find more relevant results if you search specialist databases - have a look at the Key Resources Page
  • Use the abstract (a summary of the article) to help you decide if an article is relevant for you
  • Once you've found an article you need, print it out or save it to your device so you can read it whenever you like and make notes​

Assignment Survival Kit

The ASK website will help you get organised for your assignment. Type in your assignment due date, and you will be given a timeline to help you.

How to improve your searching


  • Find the keywords for your topic or essay. Don’t type in a long sentence.
  • Are there synonyms or related terms (broader or more specific) that might be relevant

Getting more results

  • You can use a truncation symbol (usually an asterisk *) to find different endings to your keyword. For example, searching for read* would find read, reading, reads, etc.
  • You can find alternative terms simultaneously by linking them with or; for example, you could search for adolescent or teenager.

Getting fewer results

  • If you get too many results try searching just the title rather than the full record. You should get fewer, more relevant results.
  • Use quotation marks if you want your search terms to appear as a phrase.
  • Use 'and' to combine search terms
  • Use the refinement options and the searchwithin box to make your search more specific

Critically appraising your sources is a crucial element of any literature search.  You need to consider is your sources are:

  • reliable
  • academic enough
  • Free from bias

Ask yourself the following questions about the information you have found.


  • Who is the author or organisation responsible for the information?
  • Are they qualified to write on this topic?


  • Is the information out of date?
  • Does it matter?

What sort of information?

  • Is it opinion or fact?
  • Is it reliable and independent?
  • Is it academic/research-focussed or commercial?

Specialist software to help you

PCs in the library have specialist software which can help you to plan and write your assignments. Follow the link below for details of what's available and to see how the technology can help you plan your research, write your assignments and structure your work. Features include read aloud options, mind mapping tools and spelling & grammar checks.