This blog was created as part of the Erasmus Mundus Crossways in Cultural Narratives Masters programme, which is the only one of the EU approved and funded Erasmus Mundus Masters programmes to specialise in traditional humanities with a modern languages background. The Crossways Consortium comprises 6 top-class European universities.

For further information, please check the programme's official website and the universities' websites on the Useful Links section on the left. If you wish to have a specific question answered, please click on Email here and submit your query.

Mundus students, here you will find regular posts regarding the universities of the consortium, tips, activities, events, pictures, etc. Apart from checking it regularly to keep yourself up to date, a good way to use the blog is through the search device. We already have a significant amount of information on some universities of the consortium, so if you want to find information on a specific city, type its name in the search field (top left). You will then see all posts related to that specific city (because each post title contains the city's name in it). You can also type "General" in order to find information concerning everybody.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Electronic Academic Resources

Sorting out references and finding books can sometimes be a little challenging, especially given the fact that we move every semester. Carry your own portable library across the continent is both a recipe for disaster and can be a complete nightmare as books, while useful and necessary are also extremely heavy. E-books offer a fairly good solution to the problem, and while not all books are available online, you could at least reduce the amount of books and photocopies that you need to carry by using some of the online resources detailed below.

Google Books (http://books.google.com/books) is one of the best resources online, comprising a vast library of scanned searchable titles, Google books can help you track down that elusive citation or see whether a book you need is worthwhile ordering. Its especially useful when you only need to consult one or two pages or a single section – as the whole book is not always available.

JSTOR (http://www.jstor.org) is one of the best electronic journal archives out there, both Sheffield and St Andrews have access to this excellent resource. In addition St Andrews has off campus access so once you’ve been to St Andrews you can access the journal from anywhere. There are similar electronic journal archives for each of the major languages and the librarians at your current university will be able to help you gain access. Journal archives enable you to rapidly find papers on topics that you need, and generally provide these papers as PDF downloads, which you can store on your computer, search and even print should you need a hardcopy.

Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com) is the academic search engine related to Google’s highly successful online search engine. Google scholar searches academic books, journals and conferences to deliver academically orientated results. This is a more general search than one that could be conducted in JSTOR and the only weak point is that the results are not always accessible, ie the search engine returns results for journal archives that require specific subscriptions that your university may or may not have. However it is a good way in which one may find out whether a vital paper exists on the required subject, which can then be ordered or accessed by other means.

Finally, probably the greatest benefit of electronic resources, over and above the fact that they weigh virtually nothing, is that they are fully searchable, which saves a lot of time skim reading and allows one to quickly establish the interest of a book or article when one is unsure of its validity.