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Research Bootcamp for Research Assistants & Teaching Assistants

Literature reviews, library research, information management and more.


Welcome to the 7th annual Research Bootcamp for Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants and Graduate Students. This year, Research Bootcamp will once again be offered online as a series of modules on Brightspace. Modules may include short video lectures and interactive exercises to help you brush up on your literature searching, writing, information management, and research skills. Modules were created by research and writing specialists affiliated with Dalhousie Libraries and the Dalhousie University Writing Centre.

How does it work?

For 5 weeks, from May 3-Jun 4, 2021, weekly modules will be posted to Brightspace. Registered participants can then access and work through module content at their own pace. Participants are not required to complete all modules. You can pick and choose modules based on your individual interest and skill level.

All module content will remain accessible to participants until July 1, 2021. 

Sounds great! How do I sign up?

Registration is now closed.

Module Overviews & Schedule

May 3-7, 2021

Core Skills 1: Getting started with research

Module Description Presenter
Welcome to research bootcamp! An introduction to Research Bootcamp 2021. Learn how the program works and how to make the most of the online format.  Deborah Hemming
Library research 101 The basics (or a refresher)! This module will introduce you to library supports for your research, including research guides, subject specialists, and how to get help with research.   Deborah Hemming
Researching for literature reviews The methodology of a literature review goes beyond just searching for information. Good literature review methodology follows a logical process and is well-documented. This module will cover this process, including how to effectively search for library and document your search methods in multiple disciplines. Attendees will practice and leave with the tools to support them in the literature review research process.  Deborah Hemming

Weekly modules will be posted to Brightspace on Monday morning.

May 10-14, 2021

Core Skills 2: Writing

Module Description Presenter(s)
Writing the literature review (Social Sciences & Humanities) Comprehensively and critically reviewing the literature allows authors to not only situate their own work but to persuade readers that the work is necessary and worthwhile. This module will focus on structuring the literature review using writing strategies to summarize and synthesize the literature while maintaining or establishing your own voice, focusing on writing literature reviews in the Social Sciences and Humanities.  Janice MacDonald Eddington & Kale Hirtle
Writing the literature review (Sciences) Comprehensively and critically reviewing the literature allows authors to not only situate their own work but to persuade readers that the work is necessary and worthwhile. This module will focus on structuring the literature review using writing strategies to summarize and synthesize the literature while maintaining or establishing your own voice, focusing on writing literature reviews in the sciences.    Janice MacDonald Eddington & Kale Hirtle
Writing abstracts The abstract is often the first-read but last-written support document of a larger manuscript/paper or can be the key document to gaining acceptance to present at a conference. This comparably tiny document therefore needs to make a big impact. This module will provide a basic understanding of abstracts: the reasons they are written and the structure(s) they take in various fields and will also demonstrate using the abstract as a writing and organizational strategy for larger projects. Janice MacDonald Eddington
Writing grants Writing grants can be a high-stakes and challenging activity. Focusing on Tri-Council grants, this module will tackle the difficult balance of writing a document that fits the expected form and provides the correct information, while setting the author(s) apart from other applicants.  Adam Auch

Weekly modules will be posted to Brightspace on Monday morning.

May 17-21, 2021

Core Skills 3: Citation management & Copyright

Module Description Presenter
Intro to citation management Citation management software lets you store and organize your references, connect to full-text articles, and format your papers. This session will introduce you to Zotero, a popular citation management program that is freely available. Deborah Hemming
Copyright & the curriculum

This module will include a series of curated videos and resources with interactive content that will provide a basic understanding of key copyright concepts related to research and teaching.  Topics covered will include: fair dealing, using images, including third party content in your work, finding openly licensed works, licensed library resources, and more.  

Participants will come away with a broader understanding of copyright as well tools they can use to manage and use copyrighted material in their work. 

Roger Gillis

Subject searching

Module Description Presenter(s)
Searching PubMed As a freely-available biomedical information resource, PubMed is an excellent research tool that is highly-regarded by students, researchers, librarians, and clinicians in the health disciplines. In this module, participants will be introduced to searching in PubMed, including selecting search terms, constructing a thorough search strategy, using filters, the Clinical Queries feature, and saving and exporting results.  Jackie Phinney
Beyond PubMed 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 and have better journal coverage for your topic. In this module, participants will learn about other databases for finding health sciences literature and will discover when, why, and how to search databases such as Embase, the Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL), and more. Participants will leave having an understanding of what databases work best for certain research topics, and how to search these databases effectively.    Jackie Phinney
Humanities resources This module, geared towards students in the humanities disciplines, will cover some of the key databases and information sources for humanities research. Participants will gain hands-on experience with distinguishing, locating, and selecting key humanities sources such as articles, books, reviews, and primary source material.  Deborah Hemming
Legal resources for non-law students This is an introduction to the Canadian legal research process for those with little or no experience. At the end of this module, participants should have a broad understanding of the Canadian legal system, what the Common Law is, and be able to identify and retrieve both secondary and primary Canadian legal sources such as texts, articles, legislation, and case law. The session will use sources available via Dalhousie Libraries as well as freely available online legal tools.  Hannah Steeves
Searching for grey literature

Are you looking for content beyond what can be found in traditional books and journal articles? Are you wondering if a source is appropriate to cite? In this module, we will discuss what is considered “grey” literature, why it is valuable, and explore some tools and techniques to approach this type of research.  

Whether you need conference proceedings or government reports, we will check out a variety of sources for grey literature beyond standard databases and catalogues. This module will draw on examples from the disciplines of health and law, but the demonstrations are applicable for interdisciplinary searching across other science and social science disciplines.  

Hannah Steeves & Robin Parker
Canadian data & statistics Dal has some great resources to help you find those numbers, statistics, and datasets you need for your projects! This module provides a gentle introduction to finding Canadian statistics available through a wide variety of sources. Will include quick overviews of Stat Can data tables and microdata, the Canadian Census Analyzer, SDA, GeoSearch and more.  Julie Marcoux

Weekly modules will be posted to Brightspace on Monday morning.

May 25-28, 2021

Working with research data

Module Description Presenter
Excel 1: Easy Excel for beginners Learn to beautifully format and print tables of data. Discover some common fixes that can be applied to messy external data. Practice cleaning and analyzing data using Excel's built in tools. This module covers formatting, filtering, and conditional formatting.  Julie Marcoux
Excel 2: Data visualization with Excel pivot charts A whirlwind introduction to visualizing data with pivot tables and pivot charts. This module covers how to create pivot charts, and also goes over some nifty features such as slicers, timelines, and how to magically group your time fields to sort data by hour/day/etc.  Julie Marcoux
Excel 3: Excel experts 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. By the time you’re done with this module, you might even find yourself creating simple Excel macros!  Julie Marcoux
Getting started with data management planning  Discover how data management planning can help you save time, guard against loss, and improve the quality of your research, while fulfilling granting body and publisher requirements. This module will cover best practices in research data management (RDM) and introduce you to helpful resources including the free, online Data Management Plan (DMP) Assistant tool.  Louise Gillis

For this week only, weekly modules will be posted to Brightspace on Tuesday morning due to the holiday weekend.

May 31-Jun 4, 2021

Research synthesis methods

Module Description Presenter
Evidence synthesis

Are you deciding whether you should complete a systematic review or a scoping review? Maybe another research synthesis method is a better fit for your question and purpose? This introductory overview of evidence synthesis methods will highlight how to decide which approach is appropriate to a specific purpose.  

Example reviews from multiple fields of research will illustrate various high-quality methodologies and we will also examine some publications that highlight what to avoid when conducting and reporting your own research synthesis. Participants will be directed to sources of reliable methodological guidance and other training resources to continue their learning. 

Robin Parker
Exploring the steps of systematic and scoping reviews using Covidence software This intermediate level module will provide participants with the opportunity to explore conducting systematic or scoping reviews using specialized software to illustrate the process. The module will highlight the importance of rigour in research reviews using Covidence, a systematic review management software, so that participants will come away with the ability to efficiently handle literature-intensive research methods. We will use an example data set from a health topic, but participants are welcome to apply the methods to their own data or topic during the module.  Robin Parker

Presenting & publishing research

Module Description Presenter
Open Access & predatory publishers Open access publishing is not only a requirement of many funders, it benefits researchers by ensuring their work is accessible for greatest impact – and maximum citations. Open access publishing does require some understanding and planning, however, particularly when many misconceptions about open access prevail and predatory publishers are happy to exploit the confusion of the unwary. This module will provide a thorough introduction to open access in order to explain the multiple paths to open access and how to identify deceptive journals, enabling you to make informed choices for your research publications.  Melissa Rothfus
Creating conference posters Create effective posters for your projects, research, and conference presentations. Participants will learn how to use PowerPoint to create a 4x6 poster. The module will include setting dimensions, inserting text (font styles and sizes), working with images, graphs, and tables, choosing colour schemes, and more.  Deborah Hemming

Weekly modules will be posted to Brightspace on Monday morning.


How do I register?

Registration for 2021 is now closed.

Who is eligible to register?

While the primary audience for Research Bootcamp is Dalhousie University graduate students, all Dalhousie students, staff and faculty are welcome to register.

How much does it cost?

Nothing! Research Bootcamp is free! 

Do I have to complete all modules?

No. You can pick and choose modules to complete based on your interests. We do recommend, however, that all participants complete the modules in Core Skills 1, 2 and 3, as the content in these modules is foundational for developing core research skills.

How long will I have access to the modules?

Until July 1, 2021.

Objectives & Outcomes

The objective of the Bootcamp is to develop and/or refresh the literature searching and information management abilities of research assistants, teaching assistants, and graduate students. 


  • Greater knowledge of information sources and services available from the Dalhousie Libraries
  • Working knowledge of how to efficiently and effectively conduct a literature search in a field of interest
  • Understanding of how to manage and present information once found
  • Understanding of the requirements around copyright
  • Greater knowledge of author rights and requirements