All universities have extensive catalogues of electronic databases, and once students arrive, they are expected to have the skill to use these resources to find, refine, analyse and cite academic research for their essays and assignments.

Students that start university life with limited research skills and no experience of online databases find themselves faced with a big challenge:

“I wish I had had access to e-resources when I was at school. Not only would they have been really useful for my A levels but they also would have helped me prepare for studying at university. It was pretty daunting arriving at university and having to try and teach myself how to use resources that I’d never seen or heard of before. Once I had an understanding of how the resources worked, I struggled to sit down and actually do the research, never having had to find large quantities of relevant information before.” Mark Bates, University of Warwick graduate

“I didn’t discover online resources until I was already at university and I was amazed at the range of information readily available to me. If my digital literacy and research skills had been better developed at school, I know it would’ve made a significant impact on my independent study and better prepared me for university life!” Jade Heatley, Swansea University graduate

Having experience of such resources and how they can be used for effective research gives students a head start at university.

Whilst good examination results remain the top priority for schools, developing their independent learning and research skills throughout their school career is also critical for future success. Only a year ago, in 2016, 62% of University admissions officers believed that students were not “ready to think and learn independently”.

Pew Research Center’s report How Teens Do Research in the Digital World says ‘Teachers and students alike report that for today’s students, “research” means “Googling.” As a result, some teachers report that for their students “doing research” has shifted from a relatively slow process of intellectual curiosity and discovery to a fast-paced, short-term exercise aimed at locating just enough information to complete an assignment.’

Publishers of e-resources carefully curate academic content to ensure students are able to research in a trusted and safe environment. They also develop tools to help students get the most out of the content, from features helping students to uncover new terms and connections at the beginning of research to citation and bibliography tools.

Developing these research skills is so essential for success in higher education, an environment in which students are expected to be almost totally self-reliant when it comes to their studies. A big step up for students who have relied on ‘Googling’ only to find just enough information to complete their school assignments.

A carefully selected collection of electronic databases (e-resources) for schools via JCS here.