Blog

Live blogging the article: Wednesday 12 June

The University of Melbourne encourages most undergraduates to use Discovery, the ‘Google-like’ search engine that reviews multiple databases.  Except there’s a lot it doesn’t include.  Going to any Library training session, they recommend a whole raft of other databases, which can only be found by laborious clicking through, and you need to know the database name to start with.

So, how do I start an online search? I logged into the university website, and searched Web of Science (yes, good for arts and humanities searches too). At this stage I’m just typing “Kenneth Slessor” into the search terms–he has an unusual name so I never get a false positive (his name is a made up anglicisation of a German-Jewish surname, so it’s not common).

I got 27 hits, mostly from Southerly, and  Australian Literary Studies. I’m emailing them all to myself.  I could input them into EndNote or RefWorks, but I hate reference management systems so much that I can’t bear to. (For the PhD, it was essential.  For a single article? Not so much. I’ve copied and pasted them into a Word document, though I might transfer that to an Excel spreadsheet instead.  Excel is much underrated for small databases (she says with her database hat on).

Next I head over to the MLA International Bibliography.  I get 34 hits, a few of them overlapping with my first list, but new ones from Meanjin and Antiopodes.

It’s worth pointing out that to read an article takes about 30 minutes, so I’m already looking at months of reading if I planned to read them all.  But I don’t.  Just scanning the titles helps me to work out:

  • which are the most important of Slessor’s works
    ‘Five Bells’, ‘Heine in Paris’, his war diaries, ‘Captain Dobbin’, ‘Intellectualised Pornography’.
  • who are the most important scholars for Slessor
    Geoffrey Dutton and Denis Haskill.
  • what are the major themes and approaches to his works
    The Bush (and landscape more generally), modernism, Australian literature, some feminism, some post-colonial studies.

I’ll be downloading these articles, and scanning them; I’ll be reading abstracts and triaging. I still have to go back and export the data I just eyeballed from Discovery… but all of that’s for another session.

SHARE

Succeeding in a Research Higher Degree

Doing a Research Higher Degree (like a PhD) is hard, but lots of people have succeeded and you can too. It’s easier if you understand how it works, this blog gives you the insider view.

Contact

Related Posts

The story of my thesis

If you have ever been to one of my workshops in the last decade, you will probably have done this warm up. In fact, if you came to a multi-day writing retreat I ran, you would have done this at the beginning of each day. It is the most powerful, most flexible, simplest tool in my writing tool box.

Read More

How to unstick your reading list

As I was getting to the end of the recent book, I was buying books at my usual pace but not reading them (as that brainspace was completely taken up with reading my own draft or references for the draft).

Now the book is in and the summer has started, I felt excited to dive into all these books but I also felt stuck. I couldn’t get into gear, let alone find my groove.

So I rummaged around in my toolbox, and came up with this list of techniques. None of them are perfect, but little by little we are turning the dial back to reading.

Read More

Get the latest blog posts