They are a bit like Yetti or the mysterious sixth floor at the Faculty of Social Studies: you have probably heard about them but few of them have actually seen them. Maybe your classmates have talked about them, your supervisor has recommended them to you or you have seen an announcement in the library. Electronic information resources.
Do you know the feeling when you come up with a brilliant topic for an essay, a term paper or a thesis only to find out that there already has been someone this enlightened? If you want to stand out amidst student texts, you must handle the topic in a different, better and more interesting way. Electronic resources can help you (not only) with this. “They help our students gain better insight into topics they are interested in," says Hana Sloupenská from the MU Faculty of Law Central Library.
“At the Department of Psychology, they made us use them from the very first semester, for which I am grateful, because I couldn't do without electronic resources in my doctoral studies," says Hana Sedláková, a PhD student at the Faculty of Social Studies. “I myself saw several times how beneficial and efficient they can be. They are a must in research but practical use of research findings can find application also in consulting practice or personal life," she adds.
From the perspective of an evaluator of students' papers, she can appreciate honest efforts of university students in searching for resources. For example, she appreciates to see, in addition to classical evergreens, an interesting study or the latest research in the list of bibliography.
How to search
Whereas the library stock provides only a limited selection of resources, electronic databases are inexhaustible. “Electronic resources are very up-to-date professional sources of scientific information, i.e. the quality of received information is guaranteed - unlike in the case of sources freely available on the Internet," comments Eva Jandová from the MU Faculty of Arts Central Library.
However, the amount of information might not always be an advantage; thousands of papers initially create panic rather than good in students. You don't have to necessarily read all. The key to success is to learn how to find the relevant ones. You can either find the database for your discipline at ezdroje.muni.cz or you can use a universal search engine at discovery.muni.cz to look up the necessary papers regardless of where they are stored.
The second option is definitely easier. You don't have to spend time trying to become familiar with dozens of different search interfaces or different ways of presentation of the data obtained. The central index of the discovery.muni.cz search service includes almost all licensed electronic information resources to which Masaryk University has access. It is therefore an ideal option not only for complete beginners but also for seasoned experts.
“Moreover, you can also include local information resources in your search. The central index of discovery.muni.cz is linked to Masaryk University's library catalogue and MU's electronic archive of theses," explained Miroslav Bartošek, the head of the Library and Information Centre at the MU Institute of Computer Science.
How to work with electronic resources is taught in a number of subjects and courses offered on a regular basis by libraries and faculties. “We try to draw attention to e-resources in an autumn seminar. Also, we have placed instructions how to work with electronic resources next to computers in the library. The most common problem is that students do not know of their existence or have no idea where to find them," says Jana Rybářová from the MU Faculty of Education Central Library.
Students are happy with the workshops. “I appreciate a great willingness to help us master the various procedures in searching information and quoting," a student of the Faculty of Social Studies evaluates one of the courses.
Access anytime and from anywhere
It never happens to you that an electronic resource is not available or booked for several months ahead such as classic books. Moreover, you can access databases the University has purchased from any computer in the MU network but also from your private device - for example from the other end of the Czech Republic.
“Setting up access to e-resources from computers outside the MU network is one of the most common problems for users," says Jaroslav Nekuda from the Scientific Information Centre at the Faculty of Economics and Administration. You can find detailed instructions at ezdroje.muni.cz/vzdaleny_pristup.
A related problem can also be a proper quoting of electronic sources, which has its own specific rules. “Incorrect quoting or not quoting of resources at all is about students' responsibility and ethics," says Eva Jandová from the Faculty of Arts. A bibliographic record should contain a direct link to the database, but always follow the quotation standard required by your faculty or department. Most papers do include a bibliographic reference, so they can be easily looked up.
In using e-resources, keep in mind that they are usually in English and come from abroad. Therefore, if you are looking for specific research from the Czech environment, it may be a problem. However, even Czech experts publish in foreign journals, which are increasingly available in e-resources on-line.