Library Guides available to help with your dissertation or project

As taught postgraduate students here at the University of Aberdeen are currently working on their dissertations or projects we would like to remind them that there are a wide range of Library Guides available on our website to help them better understand and use the high quality resources, across all subject areas, available from the Library Service.

Some guides focus on specific resources, such as Ebook Central, an ebook collection of over 180,000 titles across all disciplines, while others provide an understanding of the Library resources available in a subject area. We have guides that can help you with referencing your dissertation or project correctly; others that show you the best way to use Primo to find the information you need, and further guides that will demonstrate how to track down that vital piece of legislation in the legal database, Westlaw .

The Library Guides are all available on our website and you can browse them either in an A-Z listing or by broader subject areas, so please do have a look to see if they can assist you.

In addition to these online resources please remember that Library staff are also here to help you locate any materials that you may need, so please do come and find us in any of our three libraries.

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Need help with Referencing? The Library is here to help

Once you have researched and begun writing your dissertation or project you must remember to correctly acknowledge the sources of any information which you refer to, as this allows readers to trace the original material while also ensuring that you avoid potentially committing plagiarism.

To help you with your referencing, Library staff have prepared several online guides with useful examples. We have a generic guide on Referencing and Citing as well as others focused on specific referencing systems or subject areas:

Please be sure, though, to also refer to any specific referencing guidance which you may have been provided by your department. You can also see advice on avoiding plagiarism on the Student Learning Service’s website.

If you are looking for a tool to help you organise your references and also produce your bibliography, then why not create a free account with RefWorks, an online reference management tool that the University of Aberdeen subscribes to. For more information and instructions on how to create an account please check our quick library guide to RefWorks.

If you need any help with referencing your dissertation or project please do contact Library staff.

Eleni Papadakou & Ewan Grant

Remote access to Library resources and personal filespace

Accessing Library Resources when off-campus

Did you know that if you are off campus you are still able to read all of the Library’s online books, journals and other resources, so that wherever you are in the world you can be studying this rich, varied and growing part of our collections?

To ensure that you can always access these materials when not on campus you need to be aware of the correct way to do so, as there are two different ways to read these electronic materials, depending on where they are located online. Read below to learn how to tell which online route you need to take.

The two routes to Library Resources when off-campus

Shibboleth/Institutional Login

The vast majority of our digital collections are accessed in the same way, whether or not you are sitting in one of our campuses or anywhere else in the world. This route is called Shibboleth, or sometimes Institutional Login. The only thing you need to take this route is your University of Aberdeen computer username and password.

Upon accessing the website of a digital collection you may be asked to use this information to show that you have permission to read the materials. If you are not asked, have a look for the Shibboleth or Institutional Login option somewhere on the page.

When you take this route you are normally asked three very simple questions:

  1. In which country is the University you are studying at located?
  2. At which University in that country are you a student?
  3. What is your computer username and password at that University?

shib steps img (002)

Having answered these questions you will be able to read any of the materials that the university has subscribed to on that site. Unfortunately, though, we do not have access to everything on the sites that you will visit, so even though you have taken the correct route it may still not be possible to read something you have located.

Access via IP Address – Using the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Some digital collections do not use the Shibboleth route and only permit access according to the physical location of the computer being used to read the material. These can often be niche and well-focused digital collections that have chosen not to use the Shibboleth route mentioned above. The University of Aberdeen has no control over whether a website chooses to not use the Shibboleth route.

These digital collections only give access to computers that are located on one of our campuses and the website can tell if you are on campus by viewing the IP Address of the machine. But there is a way of legitimately “fooling” them into thinking you are on campus when in fact you can be anywhere in the world that has access to the internet. This route is called the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. (VDI). Further details on using the VDI are given below.

How to tell which route to take?

If you know the name of the site on which you are trying to read some online materials you can use Primo to determine the correct route to take when off campus. Follow the steps below to learn how.

  1. Within Primo select the Find Databases option near the top of the page.
  2. To locate connection details about that collection you can search by name or browse through an alphabetical list
  3. Click on Show Info for that collection
  4. Locate Authentication Route details:
    • If it states “Shibboleth/UK Federation and IP” you will only need your computer username and password to access it
    • If it states “IP” you will need to use the VDI option when off campus

Guides to using each of these routes when off campus

Shibboleth/Institutional Login

Consult the Library Guide Accessing Electronic Information

Using the VDI

Consult the guidance available on the IT Service Toolkit:

Video briefly explaining the operation of the VDI

Online Guide detailing the steps needed to use the VDI

Once you have set up VDI access you will be able to navigate to Primo from within it and then conduct your searching and linking to digital materials as if you are on campus.

If you have located resources when using the VDI that you want to save for use later you will need to save them to your own personal file space on the servers at University of Aberdeen, your H Drive. The VDI restricts you to saving materials there. So, if you want to access them later from off campus you will need to use another route which is very simple to operate, the University’s Virtual Private Network (VPN). Read on below to learn and about using the VPN.


Access your personal network filespace from off-campus – Remote the VPN

The H: drive is your personal area of file storage on the University network. It provides you with 10GB of secure filespace and is the most secure location to store your course work and files. It appears as HOME on any classroom PC you sign into and is backed up by IT services on a daily basis.  

To access your saved work, simply sign into any networked PC and click on the desktop icon This PC, then select HOME.  

But did you know that Remote VPN provides you with remote access to your H: drive? It also provides access to web-based resources via your personal device, whether on campus, at home or in a wireless hotspot. All you need is an internet connection and a valid University of Aberdeen username and password. 

How do I access it? 

Read on, to find out how to access important files saved to your H: drive, when working from home.  

  • Open your browser and navigate to https://sma.abdn.ac.uk/  
  • You will be asked to read and accept the security guidelines outline in the VPN disclaimer – click Accept  
  • Log in using your username and password (if you are presented with a security warning click ‘Allow’) 

Using the VPN 

  • Staff will see a Home button and a User Apps button, providing links to network shared drives and also a link to their Home filespace (H: drive). Students will see a link to their Home filespace (H: drive) 
  • Click on the Home filespace button. A new window will open, displaying your Home filespace and file structure 
  • Click on a folder in the pane on the left of the window to view its contents. It is recommended that you copy any files from your H: drive, to your computer before editing them.  
  • Select a file and click Download from the top menu bar. Depending on the browser, the file may automatically download to your Downloads folder or, a pop-up may appear with the option to save the file where you want, in which case navigate to the area on your local hard drive (in your computer) that you want to save your file to. 
  • Work on the document as normal.  
  • When you are done, save your changes, close the file and return to the VPN to upload the document there. You can do this by dragging and dropping the file from your computer’s local drive onto VPN’s DROP FILES HERE area or by selecting Upload from the top menu bar. 

Remember to log out of the Home filespace and the VPN home page itself.  

Note: Before you begin, make sure you have an up-to-date antivirus software and that your Windows or Mac updates are current. 

For more information and help, contact the IT service desk by emailing servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk, phoning 01224 273636 or dropping in at The Sir Duncan Rice Library (Floor 1).  

Eleni Borompoka, eleni.boro@abdn.ac.uk

Ewan Grant, e.grant@abdn.ac.uk

Using the My Account option in Primo

Did you know that logging into Primo with your University of Aberdeen username and password will open a range of additional features to help you manage your Library account and record any searching that you do?

This includes being able to see what you currently have on loan, the option to renew books if possible, and also the chance to see what you have borrowed previously. Additionally, you can see the saved details of items you have found when searching in Primo, or the search terms you used to find them. Follow the steps below to learn more about using the My Account feature in Primo.

Log in to Primo
Enter your University of Aberdeen username and password
Once logged in click My Account for further details
Options available in Primo once you log in

By using the My Account feature in Primo you can become more organised in how you go about searching and using our collections, allowing you to record what searching you have done and build up a collection of useful library materials that you can refer back to any time that you login to Primo. The Help option at the top of the Primo screen goes into more detail on these aspects.

For further information on using Primo see our video guides and our three library guides: our general quick guide as well as ones on searching for books or journals.

Ewan Grant, e.grant@abdn.ac.uk

Search our digital collections using Find Databases on Primo

Primo will tell you about the hundreds of thousands of digital resources available through the University and will link you to one of over 200 different online academic databases to let you read the material that you’re interested in.

Did you know, though, that if you go straight to the website of specific academic databases you can perform even more powerful searches, often looking across every word contained in every item within that collection? A simple search in Primo is the best place to start a piece of research but using the Find Databases option is the next step, improving the quality of any academic research that you do.

These databases often focus on specific subject areas, meaning that your searching becomes more focused and efficient, saving you time looking and giving you more time to read and write. See below for details of how to use the Find Databases feature in Primo to link straight to digital collections best suited to your area of study.

Use the Find Databases option at the top of Primo. Please remember to login with your username and password.
You can search for specific databases or you can filter by subject area. It is also possible to browse an alphabetical listing of all databases available.

Once you have identified an academic database that you wish to search simply click on its name to link out to it. You may be asked to log in again.

Please note that it is not possible to search across multiple databases at once using this Find Databases option. You must link out to each database that you are interested in and search them individually. This method will allow you to perform the most powerful searches available to you.

For further guidance on using Primo please see our short videos on its various features. For guidance on accessing online resources, particularly when off campus, please see our Library Guide on Accessing Electronic Information and the Toolkit’s section on Remote Access.

Ewan Grant, e.grant@abdn.ac.uk