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Research Camp for Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants, and Grad Students

Created by the Dal Libraries with support from the Writing Centre. Literature reviews, library research, information management and more.

Welcome to Research Camp 2023-2024!

About Research Camp

Welcome to the Research Camp for Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants and Graduate Students, brought to you by the Dalhousie Libraries. The Research Camp is designed to take you through the elements of research from basic to advanced. The program is offered through  asynchronous 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. Some modules include recordings of our live sessions from Research Summer Camp (May/June 2023). Modules and sessions are prepared and delivered by research and writing specialists affiliated with Dalhousie Libraries and the Dalhousie University Writing Centre.

How does it work?

Register for Research Camp and you will have access to all of the asynchronous modules anytime. Registered participants can 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. Modules will be available until the end of March 2024.

**During spring updates, the content will be temporarily unavailable. Participants will receive notice about this in advance.


Research Camp badges are available for module completion, and badges accumulate toward certificates. For a full list of available certificates, see the Certificate page.

Sounds great! How do I sign up?

You can self-register in Brightspace by clicking Academic Support > Self registration, and selecting Online Community - Research Camp 2023-2024. You can enroll anytime.

Program objectives

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

Learners will gain

  • 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


How do I register?

Self-register in Brightspace by clicking Academic Support > Self registration, and selecting Online Community - Research Camp 2023-2024. You can enroll anytime.

Who is eligible to register?

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

How much does it cost?

Nothing. Research Camp 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.

Are the modules graded?

No, this program is for professional and scholarly development only. However, this year we are issuing certificates for completing subsets of the modules. Visit the Certificates page for more information.

How long will I have access to the modules?

The modules will be available until the end of March 2024. Each spring, we will refresh the content in Research Camp. Participants from previous years are welcome to register again in subsequent years.

Module & session descriptions

Core Skills 1: Getting started with research

Module Description Presenter
Welcome to Research Camp! An introduction to Research Camp 2023-2024. Learn how the program works and how to make the most of the online format.  Lindsay McNiff, Dalhousie Libraries
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.  Lindsay McNiff, 
Dalhousie Libraries
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 leave with the tools to support them in the literature review research process. Note: For those wishing to learn more about the process for systematic or scoping reviews, check out the Research Synthesis Methods modules.  

This session was offered synchronously on Tuesday, May 23. 

Erin MacPherson, 
Dalhousie Libraries

Core Skills 2: Writing

Module Description Presenter(s)
Writing the literature review 

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.  

This session was offered synchronously on Tuesday, May 16. 

Janice MacDonald Eddington & Kala Hirtle, Dalhousie Writing Centre
Writing grant proposals

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.  

This session was offered synchronously on Thursday, May 18.  

Adam Auch, Dalhousie Writing Centre
Academic integrity: Appropriate use of source material in writing

Academic integrity is, inherently, about being honest in the way you approach and complete your scholarly work. One key component of realizing this goal is by accurately acknowledging the work and contributions of others (your sources) in your writing. This module will illustrate how appropriately acknowledging, analyzing, and building on the work of others credits their contribution while also making room for your own.     

This session was offered synchronously on Tuesday, May 23. 

Janice MacDonald Eddington, Dalhousie Writing Centre
Managing big writing projects

Whether you are writing a lengthy paper, working on a graduate thesis or dissertation, or preparing a manuscript, it can sometimes be difficult to undertake a big writing project. This workshop will provide goal setting and time management techniques to help you stay on track. 

This session was offered synchronously on Wednesday, May 24. 

Kala Hirtle, Dalhousie Writing Centre
Advanced reading and writing strategies for multilingual researchers

Multilingual graduate students have unique educational, linguistic, and cultural writing needs that go beyond the surface level of understanding and mastering vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. This module will explore key elements of academic writing within the Canadian university context to encourage more complex understandings of expectations around English writing in graduate school.

This session was offered synchronously on Tuesday, May 30.  

Vanessa Lent, Dalhousie Writing Centre

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. It will also compare Zotero to EndNote and Mendeley, other major products.  

Please download and install Zotero in advance for practice during the session.  

This session was offered synchronously on Monday, May 29. 

Shelley McKibbon, Dalhousie Libraries
Copyright: Your rights & responsibilities as a user

Copyright considerations are relevant to many university activities in Canada, both for creators and users of copyright-protected material. This module looks at your rights and responsibilities as a user of third-party materials for educational purposes. 

Topics in this module include: introduction to key copyright concepts, Fair Dealing and other exceptions, licensing, copyright support @ Dal. 

After completing this module, participants will be able to: 

  • Describe how copyright relates to the work of an academic institution. 
  • Evaluate your use of copyrighted material according to the Six Factors of Fair Dealing 
  • Compare the user responsibilities between licensed works vs. non-licensed works 
  • Find additional copyright help at Dalhousie. 
Jaclyn Chambers Page
Dalhousie Libraries

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, Dalhousie Libraries
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, Dalhousie Libraries
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.   Lindsay McNiff, Dalhousie Libraries
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, Dalhousie Libraries
Engineering resources & research This module, comprised of six videos, will introduce you to fundamental resources for research in engineering: the engineering librarians and subject guides; research databases for engineering; locating and evaluating engineering journals; finding standards; finding patents; a demonstration of the premier engineering research database: Compendex on Engineering Village.  Allie Fulford, Dalhousie Libraries
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. And because this type of evidence may not have quality checks, like peer review, prior to distribution, we provide some tips for critically examining the results of your searches. 

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, Dalhousie Libraries
Finding 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 StatCan data tables and microdata, the Canadian Census, GeoSearch and more.  

This session was offered synchronously on Friday, June 2.

Julie Marcoux, Dalhousie Libraries

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.  

This session was offered synchronously on Wednesday, May 31. 

Julie Marcoux, Dalhousie Libraries
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.  

This session was offered synchronously on Monday, June 5.  

Julie Marcoux, Dalhousie Libraries
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!  

This session was offered synchronously on Wednesday, June 7. 

Julie Marcoux, Dalhousie Libraries
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, Dalhousie Libraries
Dos and Don’ts of  Preparing a Strong Ethics Application 

Applying for ethics approval through the Health Sciences Research Ethics Board (REB) at Dalhousie can be a daunting and unfamiliar task. However, it is also a valuable tool in your research process. This session was originally recorded for the Medical Education Research Roundtables series. It provides information on:

  • The role of the Research Ethics Board (REB) at Dalhousie; 
  • Tips and strategies for preparing a strong ethics application for the Medical; and 
  • Frequently asked questions. 

These skills are also transferable for ethics processes at other organizations such as the IWK or Nova Scotia Health Authority. 

Dr. Sarah Burm, Continuing Professional Development & Medical Education & Angela Hersey, Office of Research Services

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, Dalhousie Libraries
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, Dalhousie Libraries
Advanced searching skills

The systematic and comprehensive approaches of retrieving and identifying relevant evidence for research syntheses require advanced searching skills and thorough documentation. This advanced-level module dives into the processes and considerations necessary for the types of searches used in systematic and scoping reviews.  

Through demonstration with an example search and provision of instructional resources to help you apply the practices to your own topic, this module will guide you through breaking down your research question into search concepts, selection of sources to search, identification of search terms, and application of the search in multiple databases. Furthermore, we will cover best practices in documenting your searching and results, with a focus on using the PRISMA-S checklist to ensure transparency of your search methods. 

Robin Parker, Dalhousie Libraries

Presenting & publishing research

Module Description Presenter
Publishing an article

Research Impact, author rights, open access, preprints, predatory publishers, funder policies, peer review – publishing in academic journals is a key way of communicating research. However, navigating the options and variables it involves can be overwhelming. This module will provide an introduction to scholarly publishing literacy to make sure that you make informed decisions about when, where, and how you share your research for the most benefit to your field and your career. 

This session was offered synchronously on Tuesday, June 6.  

Melissa Rothfus, Dalhousie Libraries
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 boxes and headings (font styles and sizes), choosing colour schemes, and more.  Lindsay McNiff, Dalhousie Libraries
Copyright: Your rights & responsibilities as an owner

Copyright considerations are relevant to many university activities in Canada, both for creators and users of copyright-protected material. This module looks at your rights and responsibilities as a creator of new, original material (i.e, a copyright owner).  

Topics in this module include introduction to key copyright concepts for creators, publishing agreements, open licensing, and copyright support @ Dal. 

After completing this module, participants will be able to: 

  • Explain how copyright ownership is determined 
  • Analyse publishing agreements for key copyright ownership considerations 
  • Assess whether open licensing is appropriate for your works 
  • Find additional copyright help at Dalhousie. 
Jaclyn Chambers Page, Dalhousie Libraries