Critical Reflection: A Visit with Scott Johnston

note: Our visit occurred in November 2014, but it has taken time to practice and apply what I learned from that visit in order to compose a critical reflection…

Our #tiegrad group enjoyed a visit with Scott Johnston, a University of Victoria Graduate Studies Librarian. He was very calm and detailed in his approach as he shared the methods we could use to face this daunting task of researching and writing our Lit Reviews for the 2015 Spring Term. However, one particular quote from Scott has been rattling around in my brain ever since:

“organization is one of the key indicators of a successful project”.

Scott was speaking of the importance of staying on top of your research, and detailing each keyword used, each database accessed, and each step taken as we compile our data for our Literature Review. This was the moment my anxiety kicked into overdrive. Our summer course of accessing, reading, reviewing and discussing academic articles taught me that finding suitable articles and compiling the information into a proper Lit Review is already a monumental task, but documenting your steps, tangents and the rabbit holes of active research seems near impossible! I can’t really claim “organization” has ever been one of my personal strengths. So, yet another area in which to grow as I pursue my Masters!

I was quite pleased to learn even more information about effective search techniques from Scott. During the early days of our Summer Term, I re-watched a video shared with us by Dr. Valerie Irvine authored by Pia Russell, a Research Help Desk Librarian. She taught us about searching the various databases, using our temporary folders and citing our articles using Refworks. Scott extended my understanding (which, I admit, is quite limited) of Boolean language in searching. I knew about using quotation marks to search for phrases and to include “and” to refine my search. I did not know about the power of “or” to help find synonymous terms. I have also now learned to employ “not” to help me limit my own search. Every time I search for BYOD in academic research, the most common returns are related to employee use of their personal devices as part of their work. Using Google Scholar, I searched for BYOD, and received a return of 4760 academic articles written in the last 4 years. By entering “not workplace” my search became a more manageable 1150 articles!

One of the most important things I learned from Scott is about ALWAYS logging into the UVic Library first before accessing any other database. This summer, I had set up my account on Google Scholar and I have been receiving numerous alerts on articles of interest related to my possible Masters topic. However, many of these alerts have been useless to me as they are behind a paywall, making them cost-prohibitive to preview. By logging into the UVic library first, Google Scholar (and all other databases) recognizes me as a registered University student, and the results of my searches are tailored more deliberately for my needs. An additional column also appears, showing me how to retrieve some articles that may otherwise require payment before viewing. This has been a wallet-saver recently!

We were left with a list of databases on which to focus our energies:




Web of Science

To develop my own organizational strategies, I will need to set up alerts for topics of interest, document the keywords that I am using, and set up a research schedule. I can access other Lit Reviews to get a better idea of what will be required. I must also finally make a decision about purchasing a citation manager or continue to make use of the free services. I am most curious about using Endnote.

Thank you for your time, Scott Johnston. It was nice to learn that we can book an individual consult with our University Graduate Librarians. The pressure is on to now apply these skills!