Finding good quality information for your Accounting & Finance dissertation

Finding good quality information for your Accounting & Finance dissertation

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This guide is designed to help you to get started with searching for information for your dissertation.  It contains tips on how to plan your research and find academic articles for your literature review.


Use the following web page as your starting point to get access to all the resources that could be useful to you:


If you need any help or would like to book a one-to-one dissertation appointment, please get in touch:



See also the Skills Hub for a range of videos and guides:


Planning your research



In the same way that you prepare for an assignment, you will need to plan for your dissertation. 


Consider all the different keywords and phrases that describe what you are looking for.  Remember to be flexible with your search terms and consider alternative words.



TIP:            As you search the resources, you will come across other words and phrases that you can use.  Note down the keywords listed within the results as these can be useful.

Where to start



You will find all of the databases that the library subscribes to, as well as other useful sources for your subject, on NELSON (Northampton’s Electronic Library Search Online).  NELSON is an intuitive tool that enables quick and easy searching of library resources. 


Searching NELSON is simple – follow these steps:


  • Go to and click on ‘Sign in’ at the top right of the web page.


Note: you can also access NELSON from the main library pages of the University website.


  • Decide where you wish to search – choose from Everything, Journal Articles, Library Catalogue or NECTAR.


  • Enter keywords in the search box and ‘search’.
  • Use the options on the left to refine your results by resource type, by topic, by date etc.


TIP:            Search each database individually for a better result.  To do this go to the ‘Databases’ tab within NELSON and begin with the main journal databases listed later in this guide.


Finding academic literature


When you begin your research, you should concentrate on looking for academic material.  You will be expected to refer to academic articles and books in your literature review – your dissertation supervisor should be able to advise you on how may to include.

The main differences are identified below:


Academic Practitioner
e.g. Journal of Business Finance and Accounting e.g. Financial Management
Written by academics for academics Written by practitioners for practitioners
Often peer-reviewed Not usually peer-reviewed
Emphasis on theory Emphasis on current practice and trends
Typically over 5 pages in length Typically under 5 pages long
Contains references Contain little or no references



TIP:            It is better to find 1 academic article than 10 trade articles.  You may be able to identify additional material in the reference lists at the end.

Which databases to use


The main journal databases for accounting and finance are:


Database Information
ABI Global Contains both scholarly and trade journals 
Emerald Academic business journals (books not available on here)
Sage Academic journal source
ScienceDirect Covers a range of topics including business
Taylor & Francis Journals on a wide range of topic areas *new for 2013
Wiley Some business coverage. Items that are display an open padlock may be accessed.



Extending your research



Following trails

If you have found a good academic article that is relevant to your research, this could lead you to other material.  Search the databases by author (or use Google) to see if the writer of your article has written anything else related to your research topic.


You can also look through the reference list at the end to see if there is anything else you can use.  If there is a particular journal you are looking for, search Find My Reference to see if it is available.


Finding books

Don’t forget to check the Library Catalogue (or via NELSON) for books/ebooks on your topic.  If you wish to extend your reading further, use COPAC from the databases menu.  This is the Catalogue of the major research universities libraries and will give you book references.


Example dissertations

You may wish to look at previous dissertations to get an idea of structure/layout.  Example dissertations may be available to view in the Business School.



Obtaining the material



If the material is not available in the library, the following options may be useful:

  1. Interlibrary Loan
  2. Visiting another UK library – SCONUL Access scheme



JF 08/13