Overwhelmed by reading? – info tip

Two students reading and studyingIf your resolution this term is to be more efficient when studying, a good area to focus on is your reading and note-making. Independent reading and taking notes are likely to make up a large part of your study time at university, so a few small adaptations to your reading strategies could potentially save you a lot of time over the term.

Reading with a purpose

The Study Advice team has a guide on managing academic reading which includes ideas on how to select material, deciding how much to read, and reading techniques. We also have a brief video tutorial on reading academic texts that introduces the kind of reading needed for academic work and appropriate strategies.

To get started, try this simple three-step plan to make your reading more active and targeted:

 1. Understand the purpose for your reading:

2. Think about what you need to find out:

Ask yourself what you already know about the topic, from previous lectures, seminars or wider knowledge. Use this to identify your gaps and what you need to find out – it can be useful to phrase this as a series of questions so you can then search for answers to those questions.

3. Identify where you can find this information:

Your reading list is often a helpful place to start – the Library has a guide to understanding your reading list. But to get the best marks you will most likely need to go beyond your reading list – see the Library guide on doing your literature search for information on where to look, effective search tips, finding the items you need. For targeted resources and more advice on finding information in your subject, take a look at your subject resources pages or contact your subject liaison librarian.

An open notebook and pensNote this!

Efficient reading goes hand-in-hand with good note-making, so if you feel you are being slowed down by taking too many, or too few notes, have a look at our guide to effective note-taking and our video tutorial on critical note-taking.

The secret is not trying to capture everything you’ve read (or you’ll just end up with more notes than there are pages in the book itself!) but to keep good records so you know where to find the information again when you need it. Watch this short video tutorial on finding bibliographical details you need for note-making and referencing. If you find it hard to keep track of your references, consider using reference management software, such as EndNote.

Spending too long reading?

Reading is a potentially open-ended task – there is always one more book or journal article in the Library that you could read. If you feel your reading is taking too long, have a look at the Study Advice guides on managing your time and our video tutorial on how to make more hours in the day

If you find it difficult to focus on your reading, list the things that distract you and take steps to deal with these distractions. For example, disable pop-up notifications on your phone if you know social media can easily draw your attention away from your reading. Another helpful strategy is to think about the time of day when you are most focused and productive, and use your best thinking time to tackle the most difficult texts.

Putting limits around your reading time and stopping it from becoming an endless task can also improve your efficiency and your motivation! Make an estimate of how much time you need to do your reading, break your reading down into manageable chunks, and schedule it into a weekly study timetable. For more advice on how to make one, watch our video tutorial on making a study timetable.

Need more help?

If you need more advice on how to manage your reading and improve your note-taking techniques, contact the Study Advice team to book an appointment.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Dr Michelle Reid, Study Adviser.

Get set for referencing success using Mendeley or EndNote

Have you been marked down for inconsistencies in referencing? Are you fed up with writing all of your references for your dissertation by hand? There are programs that store your references and help you create bibliographies in Microsoft Word. We’re running sessions throughout the Spring Term covering the variety of options available – whether you’re working on your dissertation or starting your PhD, come along and find out how much time you can save! You can book onto any of these beginner sessions on RISIS under the Actions tab.

New for 2019: Mendeley

Mendeley is designed to make storing references as simple as possible. We mainly recommend it for undergraduate and masters students. Its main feature is ‘watched folders’ – any time you add a PDF to a selected folder, Mendeley will automatically retrieve the details. You can also drag and drop PDFs directly into your library or use its Web Importer for details of websites and other sources. If you work a lot with PDFs, Mendeley is a good option for you. It has both online and desktop versions – both are free to use, but only the desktop version works with Microsoft Word. Workshops are taking place at the following times:

  • Wed 23 January, 14:00-15:00
  • Wed 20 February, 14:00-15:00
  • Wed 20 March, 14:00-15:00

EndNote Online

EndNote Online is similar to Mendeley, but instead of using PDFs you collect reference details from databases such as Summon. It works particularly well with Web of Science as both products are owned by the same company. EndNote Online also has the specially-created ‘Harvard for Reading’ style, which will ensure that your references are formatted exactly to your department’s specifications. It’s free to use on any PC, including your home PC. We recommend it for undergraduate and masters students. Come along to a workshop at the following times:

  • Wed 6 February, 14:00-15:30
  • Wed 27 February, 14:00-15:30
  • Wed 13 March, 14:00-14:30

Desktop EndNote

Desktop EndNote has many more features than Mendeley or EndNote Online and is designed for postgraduate researchers and staff. You can store a huge number of references and PDFs. In addition, you can select from thousands of referencing styles or create your own – great if you’re writing for publication. It’s free on all campus PCs through Apps Anywhere, but is costs around £96 to install on your own PC. We’re running workshops at the following times:

  • Wed 13 February, 14:00-16:00
  • Wed 6 March, 14:00-16:00

Book your place

Sign up to any of our sessions through the Actions tab on RISIS. If you can’t make any of the specified sessions but would like to know more, take a look at our reference management guide or contact your Liaison Librarian.

Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Personalised Library support for your subject – info tip

If you’ve ever felt a little overwhelmed by the range of resources that the Library has on offer then you might want to get help from your very own subject Liaison Librarian or explore one of our dedicated subject guides.

Subject Liaison Librarians

Every subject offered at Reading has a Liaison Librarian – they are your main point of contact with the Library. They can help you make effective use of the huge range of resources the Library has to offer in support of your studies by:

  • showing you how to use information resources effectively – your librarian can offer training sessions for your School/Department on finding and using relevant resources
  • creating and updating Library guides for your subjectproviding an overview of the range of subject specific print and e-resources available to you
  • helping you save time by making the most of all our Library services
  • giving you individual help with research – your librarian can offer in depth help in finding information, including identifying the most relevant print and online resources for you to use

Look at our list of liaison librarians to find out who you should contact for more help with finding resources for your subject.

As well as providing one-to-one advice and offering group training sessions and workshops, every Liaison Librarian has created a guide for each subject, with lots of helpful information and advice on finding resources for your studies.

What is a subject guide and how do I find mine?

Our online subject guides include information about relevant books, reference materials, journal articles, electronic resources (including e-journals, databases and multimedia resources) and other useful websites relating to your area of study. There’s also advice on citing references in your work. They have been created by our team of subject Liaison Librarians, and are regularly reviewed by them to ensure they remain relevant and up to date.

The key link 'explore key resources in your subject' - this will take you to your subject guides.To access the guide for your subject just click on the “Explore key resources in your subject” in the ‘Help for your subject’ section of the Library website homepage, or go directly to our list of subject guides.

 

How do I find the information I need?

The subject guides are divided into several sections, each with its own tab at the top of the page:

  • Reading Lists – how to get started with your online reading list (if your course/module has one) and how to effectively manage your academic reading.
  • Dictionaries & encyclopedias – online dictionaries and encyclopedias as well as highlighting key print titles in the Library. It also links to e-resources such as Credo Reference, Oxford Reference and specific dictionaries for your subject. It is far more reliable to use these than to use Wikipedia for your work.
  • Books – tips on finding books using Enterprise and lists of Call Numbers for particular topics within your subject area. This section also showcases new books that have been purchased for your subject.
  • Journal articles – tips on finding journal articles on Summon and links to the key databases databases for finding journal articles in your subject area.
  • E-resources – lists key databases for your subject, as well as other useful resources such as multimedia resources, company financial databases, and online tutorials and guides to e-resources related to your subject.
  • Websites – a list of relevant websites that could be useful for your work. There are also hints on how to evaluate a website, so if you conduct an internet search you can be more confident you are using reliable information.
  • Citing references – points you in the right direction for getting help with referencing and avoiding plagiarism. You’ll also find information on reference management software which can save you time collecting references and writing your bibliography.
  • Further sources – information on Special Collections which may be relevant to your subject, and obtaining other materials such as conference papers, theses, maps and newspapers.

Need more help?
We want to help you find the information you need. Please contact your subject liaison librarian if you would like more help. You can also check out the Help tab in your subject guide for more advice.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Kerry Webb, Associate Director (Academic Liaison & Support).

New Library entrance now open

The new Library entrance from inside

The new entrance to the Library building is now open and the old revolving door

The new accessible entrance to the main Library building – the Book Drop is available as normal.

has been cordoned off. The new entrance is accessible and the out-of-hours Book Drop is still available.

Although the entrance has been opened, work is not yet complete. For now, please use the door on the side closest to the URS Building (pictured) – once the project is complete, doors on both sides of the entrance will be available.

More information

Keep up to date with the latest Library refurbishment news on our Library refurbishment webpage.

 

Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Referencing headaches? Online tools can help – info tip

Laptop, book and glassesDo you struggle with referencing? Have you been marked down for incomplete or inconsistent references? There are some online tools that can help!

Why use online referencing tools?

  1. You can use them to store accurate details of publications to use in your assignments.
  2. They can save you time compiling, checking and correcting references – just insert the citation and a bibliography is created automatically. You can also reformat your citations in a different style at the click of a button.
  3. You can add notes to your references, to remind yourself of specific parts you might want to use.
  4. Some allow you to store PDFs of the sources with your references, so that everything is together and in most cases available on any computer.

If you use an online tool you still need to know when to include a citation, and understand the principles of referencing. You can find help on this in Study Advice’s referencing guide or referencing video tutorials. You also need to be aware of which style your department requires you to use – consult your course handbook for details.

Which one should I use?

If you are an undergraduate or masters student…

… we recommend using EndNote online. This is free to use and you can use it both on campus PCs and your own PC or laptop.

You can get accurate reference details into it from Library catalogues such as Enterprise and Summon, databases such as Web of Science, or you can manually create your own references for web pages. If you’re not sure whether your preferred database supports EndNote, check our database A-Z list for details of the individual resource.

EndNote online also works with Microsoft Word – you can install a free toolbar which helps you automatically create both in-text citations and your full bibliography. You can choose from a list of common referencing styles (including the University’s own ‘Harvard for Reading’ style) to format your bibliography.

EndNote online is fully supported by the Library and we can provide 1-1 help.

To get started, come along to a workshop, try our step-by-step guide to using EndNote online, or watch an introductory video.

If you are a research postgraduate or member of staff…

… we recommend using Desktop EndNote. This is available on any campus PC through Apps Anywhere. A personal copy can be purchased at the discounted price of around £98.

References can be easily captured from many databases, and you can use the ‘Find full-text’ feature to automatically attach article PDFs to those references. A very large number of referencing styles are provided, including those for specific journals. You can download other ones from the EndNote website, or create your own by editing existing styles. It is also possible to share your EndNote library by synchronising with an EndNote online account – useful for collaboration.

Find out more by coming along to a workshop, trying our step-by-step guides, or watching a brief introductory video.

Other options

There are a number of other referencing tools available, including Mendeley, Zotero and Word’s own referencing facility. Although we do not provide support for these, we have provided links to online guidance and videos via our managing references guide.

Help

If you need help with using EndNote, or with any aspect of citing references, contact your subject liaison librarian who will be happy to help.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager & Liaison Librarian, and Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian.

Cite it right – and avoid unintentional plagiarism! – info tip

You may think that advice on avoiding plagiarism doesn’t apply to you, because you’re not planning to buy an essay from the internet, or copy someone else’s work. But you may not be aware that it is possible to plagiarise unintentionally if:

  • you’re not aware of the differences between referencing at university and any referencing you may have been used to doing previously;
  • you haven’t been meticulous about keeping records of your reading;
  • you don’t know how to use references in your academic writing to support your discussion and critical analysis.

It’s important to take referencing seriously and not just guess, or assume that you know how to do it. The consequences can be serious with marks deducted – it can even lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

However, it can be confusing when you have advice and guidance on referencing from so many different sources. It’s tempting to just Google it! But that’s far less likely to give you the right answer than guidance produced at your own university. You should always check your own Course Handbook first for advice (it will be on Blackboard).

Our Citing References guide combines previous guidance from the Library and Study Advice to cover the why, what, when and how of referencing in a single place. Study Advice video tutorials on referencing are embedded in the guide, which includes:

You could also look at The Academic Integrity Toolkit, which shows how understanding referencing is an important part of studying at university and ‘becoming a graduate’ generally. The Toolkit includes tips, explanations and exercises (with answers) to help you develop your understanding of essential skills including:

If you’re a Part 1 undergraduate and have enrolled on Study Smart, you could also go back over the relevant guidance in Week 1.

The guidance below focuses on three important points to help you avoid unintentional plagiarism.

References in a footnote1.Know when to include a reference

Whenever you include an idea that you have gained from your reading in an assignment, you must ensure that you reference it correctly, both in the text and at the end in your reference list or bibliography. If you use the original words you have found in your reading, you must mark them with quotation marks, even if you only use part of the sentence. It is not enough to give the details of where the words came from; they must be marked out, or it will look as if you are claiming them as your own words. If you are writing the idea up in your own words, don’t be tempted to just change a few words. If you use quotations inadequately or paraphrase badly it will certainly be viewed as poor academic practice and may subject your work to penalties. It may even be seen as plagiarism.

Watch this brief video tutorial on using paraphrases.

See Library and Study Advice guidance on using quotes and paraphrases.

2. Develop good note-taking practices

Ever looked at your notes and thought, “I wonder where that came from?” or “I wonder if those are my words or copied from the text?” It’s frustrating when you can’t be sure – but it could cause you problems if you use the material without being able to reference it accurately. To avoid this, make it a habit to have good record-keeping practices. Always note the details of each text you use (author, title, year) when you start writing notes on your reading; include page numbers as you go along, even if you are not copying text directly but writing the ideas in your own words; have a system of markers to indicate if something is a quote (put in quotation marks), an idea explained in your own words, or a query or new idea stemming from what you’re read (perhaps an asterisk *). The Study Advisers have guidance on effective note-taking and a brief video tutorial on critical note-taking with more suggestions.

If you’re using an e-book, you may be able to make notes electronically as you’re reading the text. See the section in our LibGuide on Studying with e-books for more information. If you have an online reading list, you can also make brief notes on this – our LibGuide page on What else can I do with my list? has details.

You might also consider using reference management software to keep details of your reading including all the bibliographic information. EndNote online is a basic tool that works with Word to add citations to your written work and constructs a bibliography at the end. It is free too.  If you have a large number of references to manage you might choose the more sophisticated Desktop EndNote. For advice on which version to use, and for self-paced training guides on EndNote, or book a place on a training workshop, see the Library’s web pages.

3. Know what to do if you can’t find all the details of a reference

bibliographic details screencast screencapIf you have a quote but don’t know where it came from, try typing it into Google. You may find it’s better to use a short phrase rather than the whole quote; try to find a grouping of words that is less common. If you have some details of the text, you could try looking at your reading list or searching the Library catalogue. You can also look back through your Library account to see the titles of books you’ve borrowed. If you have the author and title of a journal article or even just the title of the journal and a date it may be possible to find the complete reference in Summon or one of the Library’s databases. What you must never do is invent details, or include things in your assignment if you cannot be sure about the source. This may lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

For more help watch this brief video tutorial on how to find bibliographic details.

Need more help?

If you’re still confused, or you have a specific question about referencing that isn’t answered in our guide, you can always contact your Liaison Librarian or the Study Advice team to discuss this in person. Just remember to do it in plenty of time – the day your assignment is due to be submitted is not ideal!

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Dr Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian.

Can’t find the item you need in the Library? – info tip

It’s every student’s worst nightmare – you’ve finally found the perfect item for your assignment, only to discover that the Library doesn’t have it. But don’t despair! We’ve got lots of ways for you to get your hands on the information you need…

All the copies are on loan

The 'Place Hold' button.

You’ll see the ‘Place Hold’ button on the top right-hand side of the catalogue record.

  • Place a hold. When you’re on the catalogue page with details of the item, click the Place Hold button in the top right-hand side. Log in with your University details and click Place Hold again. That’s all you need to do! Whoever’s had the book out the longest will be asked to return it, and we’ll send you an email when the book is ready for you to collect on the Hold Shelf of the URS Building. We’ll automatically buy more copies of books with lots of holds. Note: you’ll only be able to place a hold when there are no copies on the shelf.
  • Check for an e-book version. Where possible we buy both print and digital copies of titles to make sure everyone can access them. Anything that’s available online will have a link saying Click here for online access – click that and sign in with your University details to start reading. E-books are particularly useful because you can access them anywhere: on campus, at home, on holiday – the choice is yours!
  • Check our Course Collection. This is a collection of high-demand items available for short loan – you can borrow any item in this section until 11am the following day. This can be really useful if you’re needing to read a particular chapter of a book before a tutorial, for example. Course Collection Books are listed as OVERNIGHT books on the catalogue, and their Status will be ‘Course Collection Ground Floor@URS’.
  • Check other books in the same section. Our books are arranged by Call Number, and books with the same Call Number will cover the same topic (for example, all books shelved at 658.8 are about marketing). If you can’t find the exact title you need, it’s worth browsing the area to see if you can find a similar book. Check the Books tab of your subject guide to find out where to find particular topics. You might also be able to find an earlier edition of your title – they will be shelved at the same place.

 

We don’t stock the book in the Library

 

I need a specific article or book for an assignment and the Library doesn’t have access

  • Place a free inter-library loan (ILL) request. We’ll then ask other libraries if they can give us a copy of the article or book. For articles, you can often have the PDF sent straight to your University email address. Undergraduate and taught postgraduate students can have up to 5 free requests per year; this number is higher for research students and staff – check out our ILL pages for more information. If you’d like to place a request, log in and fill in a short online form with details of the item you need.

This is one of a series of tips designed to help you save time and effort finding or using information

This tip was written by Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian for Architecture, Chemistry, Construction Management & Engineering and Pharmacy.

Get to know your online reading list – info tip

Now that lecturBlackboard menu with Reading Lists option highlightedes have started, you might be wondering where to find materials for your new modules. Many lecturers use online reading lists to recommend books, journal articles, and other useful materials to read each week and to help you find materials for your assignments.

You should find your online reading list via the left-hand menu on Blackboard, and it will contain real-time information on the availability of print materials in the Library, as well as links to e-books, e-journal articles, videos, and scanned extracts of key readings that your lecturer recommends.

Watch our quick video introduction with all the key features of your online reading list.

New-look online reading lists

If you’re a returning student, you might have spotted that your reading lists look a little different… Over Spring Term last year we trialled a new look and it received positive feedback.

The new look now displays:

  • Real-time information on library availability without leaving the main list – click on the title of the book you’re interested in, and you’ll see the call number and number of copies displayed below.

A particular item on a reading list with its availability highlighted

  • Online resources (including scanned chapters) are available via the ‘View Online’ button on the right.

An item on a reading list with the View Online option highlighted

  • You can use the drop-down menu at the top of the page to filter by physical/online resource; importance level (Essential, Recommended or Further reading); or by Week if this is available. This can help you to manage your readings week by week – but if you’re looking for a specific item use the Search at the top of the page.

The drop-down menu on Talis for choosing resource typesYou are also able to create an online reading lists account and make notes on items, or mark items as ‘Read’ – these notes and labels are only visible to you, and you can use these to manage and keep track of your readings.

For more information on using these features of your online reading list, or for any other questions, take a look at our guide for students.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information

This tip was written by Kim Coles, Course Support Co-ordinator.

Adjusting to study in UK higher education – info tip

Two international graduandsFor international students, preparing for success in UK study means more than just learning the language. You will have many questions about the culture and expectations of universities in the UK, which can be quite different to what you have been used to. Even if you’ve been successful when studying in your home country, you will need to develop and adapt the way you study to succeed in the UK. We have plenty of suggestions that can help – and you can always get in touch with the Study Advice team or your subject Liaison Librarian if you have more questions.

Understanding university study in the UK

The University Study Advisers have developed a guide to help those moving up to higher education in the UK to understand what is expected through exercises and tips. This is one of a whole series of study guides and video tutorials to help you develop the skills you will need for study success, including dedicated advice on assessment by examination in UK Higher Education and guidance on academic writing. You may find the Academic Phrasebank (University of Manchester) helpful when starting out with your academic writing.

Other useful guides include UKCISA’s study tips and the Prepare for Success website (University of Southampton).

If you are starting undergraduate study at the University, remember to complete the Study Smart course which is aimed at helping all new undergraduates feel more prepared for study. You can return to the course throughout your first year if you want to remind yourself of what you’ve learnt.

Developing effective practices for UK study

There are various books in the Library written for students on developing your study skills. Many can be found on the 2nd Floor with Call Numbers beginning 378. Why not have a look on the shelves to see what is available? Or search the online Library catalogue, Enterprise for “study skills”.

You may find referencing and citation practices in the UK are quite different to those you have been used to. See our Citing References guide for tips on how and when to use references correctly in your writing.

To make the most of the Library, check out the following guides:

Building your cultural and language knowledge

student reading newspaperA good way to practise your language skills and, at the same time, learn something about UK culture is to read newspapers. The Library subscribes to a number of newspapers in print and online.

The Library has many resources that can help you to build your language skills, including books to help with IELTS (International English Language Test Score), language dictionaries, and films on DVD which you could watch to help your listening skills. Alternatively, you may prefer to improve your reading skills by using the Teaching Practice Collection which includes an extensive collection of children’s literature in English, both fiction and non-fiction. The language learning books, films on DVD and Teaching Practice Collection can be found on the 3rd Floor, while on the 2nd Floor you might wish to consult the English literature books and borrow a novel to practise your reading for pleasure.

A useful online resource for developing your English language is Learn English (British Council). You may also find the English for Uni website helpful. This aims to make difficult grammar and academic writing concepts easier to understand.

There is also general information for International students at the University, including links to advice on visas, accommodation and getting involved in University activities.

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information

This tip was written by Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Charlie Carpenter, ISLI Liaison Librarian/International Student Support Coordinator.

Broaden your horizons by learning a language – info tip

Students learning languagesWhether you’re a new or an existing student, why not learn a language in the new academic year? The Library holds a variety of resources to help you learn languages, no matter what your level or preferred mode of study may be.

Choose your language

The Library’s language learning resources cover the six languages taught to degree level: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Latin and Ancient Greek; and the additional languages taught within the Institution-Wide Language Programme (IWLP): Modern Greek, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and British Sign Language. Some textbooks or dictionaries for learning other languages, including English as a foreign language, are also in stock.

Choose how to study

If you want to learn a language by yourself, there are various resources for self-instruction, such as workbooks, CDs, CD-ROMs and DVDs.

If you are attending language classes, such as with the IWLP, then there are textbooks, grammars, dictionaries and easy readers which may be a helpful supplement to your course textbook.

Male student reading italian textBeyond the language

Of course, learning a new language also involves finding out about a different country, its society and culture. The Library holds numerous books encompassing the history of many different countries, as well as French, German, Italian and Spanish literature in the original language.

If reading the history and literature of a particular country is a bit too much like hard work, then why not watch a film from that country or study a map of that country? The Library holds many films on DVD, with a large number in languages other than English, as well as a collection of around 70,000 maps and atlases.

Where in the Library?

The language learning resources in the Library are located on the 3rd Floor. Look for Call Numbers in the 400s – in both the ‘Books’ and ‘Large’ sections. Also on the 3rd Floor are films on DVD, at Call Number 791.437, and you may find some language learning resources in the Teaching Practice Collection. Although primarily aimed at trainee teachers, this collection includes children’s literature in English, which may be used to improve English language skills.

For literature, history and field maps, head to the 2nd Floor – literature is located in the 800s, books on the history of various countries are located in the 900s and field maps in the Maps section.

Other language learning resources in the University

The Self-Access Centre for Language Learning (SACLL), located in Edith Morley 230, is a specialist language learning facility, open to international students and the wider University community. The centre includes a wide range of materials for students learning English and foreign languages, including books and DVDs. There are also computers available for students to use, some with useful online language materials.

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information

This tip was written by Charlie Carpenter, Liaison Librarian for the International Study and Language Institute.

Get ahead by reading around your subject – info tip

Boy reading in sunshineDuring a busy term there’s not much time for reflection, so the long vacation is a good time to do some wider reading around your subject. You may want to catch up, build your in-depth knowledge of topics you’ve already covered, or put your previous reading in a wider context. You might want to get ahead and prepare for next year’s modules, or you may be starting to work on your dissertation.

Whatever your reason for reading around your subject, it will be more effective if you know how to find appropriate resources and how to make the most of them once you have found them. The Library and Study Advice can help with this.

How will it help me?

Reading around your subject will help you to develop an overview of key themes and issues in your topics. You will be able to compare what different scholars think about topics, and what evidence they are using to support their ideas. To get the most out of it, you should be reading critically and thoughtfully.

How can we help you?

The Library has plenty of tools to help you find materials that are not on your reading lists.

Start by looking for your subject guide. This lists the essential things you need to know to get you started on wider reading: where you can find books on your topics in the Library; dictionaries and encyclopaedias for your topic; how to search for journal articles and the appropriate databases to use; and some evaluated web sites.

If you already know a key text for your topic, search for it in the Library catalogue, Enterprise. Once you’ve found it you can click on the author’s name to find their other works, or click on the subject to find similar titles.

Searching Summon can give you a different angle. Enter a search term and it will show you e-book chapters, online journal articles, and even news items on your topic that might get you thinking.

Don’t forget to think beyond books and journal articles, especially if you’re researching for your dissertation. Our databases can point you to newspaper articles, reports and primary texts including letters and ephemera – often offering the full text online. Plus our Special Collections have archived material and rare books to explore from Brian Aldiss to The Wizard of Oz.

Getting the most out of your reading

The Study Advice guide on managing academic reading includes ideas on how to select materials, reading techniques and common abbreviations you may come across. There is also a brief video tutorial on reading academic texts that includes guidance on reading strategies to help you make the most of your reading time.

Make sure you keep records of the bibliographic details in case you want to refer to the text later in your assignments. We have guidance on effective note-making so you can avoid having more notes than the book you’ve just read. Or watch our video on critical note-taking to help you develop your thinking about what you’ve just read.

If you’re reading for your dissertation, we have a video tutorial on starting research for your dissertation for tips and strategies.

Let us take you somewhere you’ve never been this summer and help you to make the most of reading around your subject!

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information.

This info tip was written by Katie Moore, Trainee Liaison Librarian for Education and MLES.

Polishing up your Masters dissertation – info tip

Student studyingAs you get into the last few weeks of work on your Masters dissertation or major project, it should all be coming together. This info tip aims to give you the tools to get everything done in time – and make your dissertation a shining success!

Editing, proof-reading and referencing

At this stage, you should be starting to think about editing and proof-reading. It’s best not to leave this till the last minute as it’s rarely just a matter of checking your spelling. There may be missing citation details to find, arguments that would be better placed elsewhere, repetition to remove, and word count to reduce. All these things take more time than you think.

Study Advice have a guide on writing at Masters’ level which will help you to see what you need to aim at when editing your writing. There is also a guide on academic writing including tips for more effective proof-reading. If you have five minutes, you could watch one of their video tutorials on dissertations.

It can make a real difference to your mark to make sure your citations are all correct, complete and consistent. This can be a slow process so allow plenty of time. There is information about different referencing styles and how to reference more unusual sources in our Citing References guide. You could also look at the Study Advisers’ video tutorials on referencing. If you’re still not sure, ask your Liaison Librarian or a Study Adviser.

Incomplete reference? What to do?

You may find you have a key piece of information, but not all the details you need for your bibliography. If you have some information, it still may be possible to find the complete reference.

For a journal article, try Summon or one of the Library’s databases; for a book, try checking your reading list, searching the Library catalogue, or a database specialising in books such as Worldcat or Copac. Ask at a Library Information Desk for help. You can also look back through your Library account to see the titles of books you’ve borrowed over the last 6 months.

If you want to use a direct quote from your reading but don’t know where it came from, try typing it into Google, framed with quotation marks e.g. “the City’s collusion with slavery”. Google will then search for the exact quotation. You may find it’s better to use a short phrase rather than a longer quote; try to find a grouping of words that stands out. What you must never do is invent details, or include things in your dissertation if you cannot be sure about the source. This may lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

For more help watch this brief video tutorial on how to find bibliographic details.

Get the edge with up-to-date information

The best dissertations include the most up-to-date research so, if you have time, you can check for recent publications that you may have missed in your literature review. Many databases allow you to re-run your search for an author or on a topic to find only the most recent items.

For example, Web of Science allows you to save your searches to re-run against the latest updates to its databases. You can also set up feeds and citation alerts so that you are notified when someone cites your key articles. Watch the saving your search and setting email alerts video for detailed instructions on how to do this.

This service isn’t only available in the sciences, however – you can set up alerts in services such as BrowZine to find the latest articles across all disciplines and subjects. Most databases will have this function available, but each one will work slightly differently. If you want to set up alerts for a particular database but aren’t sure how, get in touch with your Liaison Librarian.Female student writing

For more, see our further tips on keeping up to date.

Staying motivated

It can be difficult to motivate yourself to get to the finishing line, and it’s easy to underestimate how long the finishing touches may take. Breaking your remaining tasks down and setting deadlines to get each ticked off can help. You might turn these into a Gantt chart and pin it up on your wall, so you can see your targets at a glance. Study Advice have some further suggestions on staying motivated.

Layout and binding

Find out ahead of time what is expected in terms of layout and binding and you are likely to save yourself from last-minute panic. The Study Advice website has some general principles on finishing up. More specific information should be in your course or module handbook. It may also be possible to look at past dissertations in your department to see how they have laid out their work: ask your tutor.

You do not need to hard bind your work, but if you choose to do so, do be aware that you will have to leave considerably more time. The Library have teamed up with experienced university binders Hollingsworth & Moss to offer a hard and soft bound printing and binding service.

Acceptable binding styles include thermal binding with a hard or soft cover, spiral and comb binding. These can be done at many print shops with a little notice, including Mail Boxes Etc in the RUSU building on Whiteknights campus.

If you have any last-minute queries, you can always come and ask your Liaison Librarian or a Study Adviser.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian for Chemistry and Pharmacy.