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Research Bootcamp for Research Assistants & Teaching Assistants

Literature reviews, library research, information management and more.

Research Bootcamp schedule

Green = Core skills (CS)
Red = Subject information searching sessions (SI)
Blue = Information Management sessions (IM)

Week 1 schedule for Research Bootcamp
Mon., May 14 Tues., May 15 Wed., May 16 Thurs., May 17

CORE SKILLS: PART 1: CHEB 170 (Halifax); DMNB Saint John 218; Cobequid room (Truro)

9 AM – Welcome

9:15 to 10:00 AM – Getting started (CS)

10:00 to 10:30 AM – Break (coffee and light refreshments)

10:30 AM to 12:00 PM – The literature review process (CS) 

Cox Institute Room 016 (all sessions)

8:30 AM – 10:30 AM Easy Excel (IM)

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM Visualizing Data in Excel with Pivot Tables (IM) 

CORE SKILLS: PART 2: CHEB 170 (Halifax); DMNB Saint John 221; Cobequid room (Truro)

10 to 11:30 am – Bibliographic management (CS)

11:30 to 12:00 – Break (coffee and light refreshments)

12:00 – 1:00pm – Writing the literature review (CS)

CORE SKILLS: PART 3:  CHEB 264 (Halifax); DMNB Saint John 218; Cobequid room (Truro)

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM – Writing abstracts & grant proposals (CS)

11 AM to 11:30 AM – Break (coffee and light refreshments)

11:30 AM to 12:30 PM – "The Rights Stuff" (CS)

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Excel Experts (IM)

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Finding Canadian Data (SI) 



Red = Subject information searching sessions (SI)
Blue = Information Management sessions (IM)

Week 2 schedule Research Bootcamp
Tuesday, May 22 Wednesday, May 23 Thursday, May 24 Friday, May 25
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Intro to data management planning (IM)Tupper Theatre B (Halifax), DMNB Saint John 105, Cobequid Room (Truro) 9:00AM – 11AM Easy Excel (IM)McCain 2019 (Halifax) 10:00AM – 11:15AM Intro to Dataverse (IM)CHEB 264 (Halifax); DMNB Saint John 218; Cobequid room (Truro) 10:00AM – 12:00PM Visualizing Data in Excel with Pivot Tables (IM)McCain 2019 (Halifax)

1:00PM – 2:30PM PubMed Searching (SI)Collaborate (online)

3:00PM – 5:00PM 
Business & Competitive Intelligence Research Session (SI)CHEB 170 (Halifax); Cobequid room (Truro)

12:00PM – 1:30PM Evidence Synthesis (IM)CHEB 264 (Halifax); DMNB Saint John 218; Cobequid room (Truro) 1:00PM – 2:30PM Grey Literature Searching (SI)Collaborate (online)  

Red = Subject information searching sessions (SI)
Blue = Information Management sessions (IM)

Week 3 schedule Research Bootcamp
Tuesday, May 29 Wednesday, May 30
11:00AM – 12:30PM Not PubMed (SI)Collaborate (online) 10:00AM – 11:30AM Conference posters (IM)CHEB 170 (Halifax); DMNB Saint John 221; Cobequid room (Truro)
2:00PM – 3:00PM Open access & predatory publishers (IM), Tupper Link 2L3 (Halifax); DMNB Saint John 218; Cobequid room (Truro) 1:00PM – 2:30 Humanities (SI)McCain 2018 (Halifax)

Red = Subject information searching sessions (SI)
Blue = Information Management sessions (IM)

Week 4 schedule Research Bootcamp
Monday, June 4 Tuesday, June 5 Wednesday, June 6
10:00AM - 11:30AM Intro to legal information for non-law students (SI) Collaborate (online) 10:00AM – 12:00PM Searching for Canadian data and statistics (SI)McCain 2019 (Halifax) 10:00AM – 12:00PM Excel Expert (IM)McCain 2019 (Halifax)
  1:45PM - 2:45PM New data holdings at the Atlantic Research Data Centre (IM), CHEB 264 (Halifax); Cobequid Room (Truro)  
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Core skills sessions: Details

Core Skills Sessions are divided into three parts. Some parts contain more than one session. By registering for each part, you will be enrolled in all included sessions. We recommend that you take all Core Skills sessions.

Core skills: Part 1

Getting started

The basics (or a refresher)! This session will introduce research assistants to library resources, including research guides, services, and Dalhousie Libraries' Novanet discovery layer. We will also discuss best practices for developing a research plan.

The literature review process & searching documentation

The methodology of a literature review goes beyond just searching for information. Good literature review methodology follows a process and is well-documented. This session will cover these areas and provide attendees with tools to support them in the literature review process.

Core Skills: Part 2

Writing the literature review

Students fail to see that literature reviews are persuasive documents. Literature reviews, in reality, allow authors to convince readers that proposed studies are indeed necessary. This session will focus on structuring a literature review for impact.

Bibliographic management tools: Using RefWorks to work more efficiently and effectively 

This session will cover the basics of both the New and Legacy RefWorks interfaces, both of which are currently available to use. See which version best meets your needs!

Core skills: Part 3

Writing abstracts & grant proposals

Two factors determine what we write: our purpose and the audience(s). Keeping those factors in mind is the difference between success and failure. This session will tackle two of the most difficult documents frequently written by researchers.

“The Rights Stuff”:  Copyright

This workshop will provide a basic understanding of how copyright can affect your research and teaching activities at Dalhousie. Specific topics of discussion will include the following: When and how to seek permissions (for copyrighted material you want to include in your thesis or in a published paper), how to identify and use freely available resources (such as material with Creative Commons licenses), and how to manage copyright in your own research publications.  Participants will come away with a basic introduction to copyright, tools they can use to manage and use copyrighted material, as well as an understanding of recent trends related to academic publishing as they relate to copyright. 

Subject searching sessions: Details

Searching PubMed

As a freely-available biomedical information resource with built-in features that allow you to find evidence-based health information quickly, PubMed is an excellent research tool that is highly-regarded by students, researchers, librarians, and clinicians. In this session, participants will be introduced to searching in PubMed, including selecting search terms, constructing a thorough search strategy, using filters, and saving and exporting results. We’ll explore features that will make the process of finding relevant information in PubMed more efficient and painless, whether you need one good article or want to feel confident you aren't missing important evidence on your topic. 

Business & Competitive Intelligence Research

This session offers an overview of business research resources and includes a hands-on portion allowing attendees to actually create, strategize, formulate and implement searches, using few specific scenarios relevant to secondary research expectations to place sources in the context of current business work. More specifically, attendees will come away with the knowledge of business resources and strategies for:

  • Sourcing reliable news for business intelligence and competitive intelligence from a myriad of tools (Web and library subscription databases). 
  • Competitive intelligence research - company research (publicly-traded and private companies), including competitor analysis, SWOT analysis, key financials and filings.
  • Researching global and domestic industry/market trends - country research, PESTLE analysis, market research reports and market segmentation data.

Searching for grey literature

Are you looking for content that doesn't fit the typical publishing model of books and journal articles? You may need to look beyond the usual databases and catalogues to find the grey literature. In this session, we will discuss what is considered grey literature and explore some resources and approaches that can help find this type of evidence for your area of research. Whether you need conference proceedings, government reports, or business whitepapers, we will check out some of the myriad of sources for grey literature. This session will draw on examples from the disciplines of health and law, but is appropriate for any science or social science research and will incorporate demonstrations of resources and approaches useful for interdisciplinary searching.

Legal resources

This is an introduction to the Canadian legal research process and online legal tools for those with little or no experience with legal research. At the end of the session, participants should be able to access federal and provincial legislation including bills, statutes, and amendments. They should also be able to locate court cases and their histories, including how they have been used in later court decisions.

Not PubMed: Exploring (other) Health Sciences Databases

Frustrated with PubMed? Can't find what you are looking for? For most of us, PubMed is the first stop for health sciences literature; however, there are a number of other databases that may be more suited for some health information needs. In this 90-minute session, attendees will learn about other databases for finding health sciences literature and will discover when, why, and how to search databases such as Embase and the Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL). Learn what types of unique evidence and specialty information can be found in various health library resources, and learn tips for searching them effectively. 


Want to learn how to use the Libraries’ extensive collection of electronic databases to find the best and most relevant information available? This hour-long session, geared towards students in the humanities disciplines, will cover some of the key databases and information sources for the humanities. Participants will gain hands-on experience with distinguishing, locating, and selecting key humanities sources such as articles, books, reviews, and primary source material. This session will involve the following components: an overview of key humanities databases and online resources provided by the Dal Libraries, employing search strategies and techniques using these databases, evaluating and filtering resources, as well as other tips and tricks that can be used to get the most of out these resources.

Searching for Canadian data and statistics

Dal has some great resources to help you find those numbers, statistics, and datasets you need for your projects! This workshop provides a gentle introduction to finding Canadian statistics available through a wide variety of sources, including how to retrieve microdata available through a special agreement between Dalhousie and Statistics Canada. Will include quick overviews or more in-depth exercises for the Canadian Census Analyzer, CANSIM, GeoSearch, really good Google searches, SDA, and Tabula.

Information management sessions: Details

Intro to data management planning 

Come discover how data management planning can help your research group or project, and find out how be a good steward of the data you've laboured so hard to collect.  Participants will create a data management plan using the CARL-Portage Research Data Planning Assistant tool with either their own research project information or a provided case study related to their discipline. Pre-registration required (for workshop materials).

Introduction to data repositories and Dataverse 

You've followed your data management plan and now have data to share with your research community – but where? And how? This session will introduce you to data repositories, and the Dalhousie installation of the Dataverse repository software. 

Excel 1: Easy Excel for beginners

Learn to beautifully format and print tables of data. Discuss some common fixes that can be applied to messy external data. Practice cleaning and analyzing data using Excel's built in tools. This workshop covers formatting, filtering, and conditional formatting. Prerequisite: be comfortable selecting cells and groups of cells in Excel.

Excel 2: Data visualization with Excel pivot charts

A whirlwind introduction to visualizing data with pivot tables and pivot charts. Includes slicers, timelines, and magically grouping your time fields to sort data by hour/day/etc. Prerequisite: be comfortable selecting cells and groups of cells in Excel. Note: Excel pivot charts and tables are very version dependent: highest compatibility with Windows systems equipped with Excel 2010 or more recent.

Excel 3: Excel experts

We've prepared a wonderful selection of advanced formulas and Excel functions to use when working with data! Learn about string functions, removing duplicates, using criteria in formulas, Vlookup, and locating special cells (blanks, formulas, etc.) in a worksheet. We may even practice creating Excel macros! Prerequisite: be comfortable manually entering simple formulas into Excel. 

‚ÄčEvidence synthesis

Learn about the methods that set systematic reviews and other research syntheses apart from traditional reviews. This session will provide an overview of several evidence synthesis methods, and will highlight how to decide which approach is appropriate to a specific purpose.  Participants will be introduced to the steps of conducting systematic reviews and will explore using Covidence, a systematic review management software, to efficiently handle literature-intensive research methods.

Open access & predatory publishers

An introduction to Open Access and recent trends in academic publishing that have important implications for publishing your work. Open Access has proven to be a challenging development for many researchers. Open Access publishing is filled with confusing acronyms and mixed messages from commercial academic publishers and "predators" looking to take advantage of confused scholars. This session will provide you with the tools to make informed publishing choices while enabling you to make your research publications openly available. This is now a basic requirement of many research funding agencies both in Canada and abroad. 

‚ÄčConference Posters

Create effective posters for your projects, research, and conference presentations. Participants will learn how to use PowerPoint to create a 4'x6' poster. The workshop will include setting dimensions, inserting text (font styles and sizes), working with images, graphs, and tables, choosing colour schemes, and more. Note: While poster printing options will be discussed, we will not do any actual printing in the workshop.

New data holdings at the Atlantic Research Data Centre

This session will involve highlight details about the various datasets that are likely to be of interest to the graduate student population and that are only available to researchers in Halifax through the Research Data Centres.  Focus will be placed on newer data acquisitions – including the linked survey-administrative data.  However, we will also touch on some of the datasets that have been in existence for a while and are producing new cycles of data.  We will also discuss the application process and the services that the ARDC provides to users of the centre.