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Using Access to Research to support A level students

I’ve written a blog post on Access to Research before. It is a portal giving free access to the reports and findings of publically-funded research in the UK – library customers can access this information using a library computer. It’s available to all public library services in the UK and in Suffolk it has been well particularly well used. I thought it would be useful to share how it is being used by some library customers.

Students studying for their A levels at Thomas Gainsborough School used Access to Research for some extra help with their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

The EPQ is a piece of work that gives students the chance to extend their studies beyond the A-level syllabus and prepare for university or their future career by researching a subject of their choice.

Naturally it involves using a new range of resources beyond what they have been familiar with using in school, so the current group of students asked library manager Heather Welch and me to run some sessions showing them what resources the public library could provide and also how to improve their research skills to get what they needed.

The subjects chosen by the students ranged wildly from the impact of social media on friendship to the development of Lego. Amongst the range of research methods and resources we discussed Access to Research brought back useful and interesting articles for many of the subjects chosen.

The real advantage of using this portal was for students who had a general subject area they knew they wanted to research but had not decided on what aspect to focus on. By typing in a keyword to Access to Research they could immediately see what information is currently available and it helped them to focus in on their area of interest or to decide actually there’s not a lot of information available so perhaps they should choose a different subject.

Seeing the portal being used in this way was so positive and really highlighted for me the audience that can benefit from this service. The project was initially for 2 years, due to finish in December 2015 but it has now been extended.

I’m keen to make sure Suffolk stays in the top 10 so if you would be interested in learning more about it please get in touch. It’s not just for students it’s for anyone who wants to read widely on a subject, however obscure.

Just for a flavour here’s the top 10 search terms used in October this year, an eclectic mix I think you’ll agree:

Rank Search term
1. Paramedic learning styles
2. Interpreting services
3. Model relapse addiction
4. Alcoholism nature nurture
5. Chinese oracle bones
6. Graphene
7. Leadhills
8. Victorian tuberulosis
9. New Scientist magazine
10. Process theology