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 on the Subject help pages. The guides list the essential things you need to know to get you started on wider reading: the numbers at which the main topics are classified; dictionaries and encyclopaedias for your topic; how to search for journal articles and the appropriate databases to use; even some evaluated web sites.

If you already know a key text for your topic, search for it in the Library catalogue (Enterprise). From the full record, you can find more books by the same author or on the same subject by clicking on the links.

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

Yi-Yellow-Brick-RoadDon’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-taking 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 Tim Chapman, Science and Life Sciences Liaison Team Manager and Ian Chilvers, Liaison Librarian for Computer Science & Mathematics and Statistics.

Library refurbishment: path deviation and demolition of staircase

Orange barrier across footpath with partially demilished Library building behindPedestrians and cyclists should note that a path diversion has been placed around the south west corner of the Library Building.

The diversion has been put in place as a major phase of work – the demolition of staircase 2 – will commence from Monday 7 August.

The diversion will take pedestrians and cyclists away from the concentrated area of work around the south side of the building – please just walk around under the end of the URS Building to regain your route.

Inside the Library, staircase 2 is enclosed behind hoardings and is located on the right-hand side of the building as you walk in through the front entrance, adjacent to the male toilets.

The demolition will be carried out in progressive phases, moving from top to bottom of the structure. Noise levels are likely to be high, depending on the works being carried out. The bulk of the noisiest demolition works are planned to be carried out before the start of the Autumn Term.

Study space across campus

You can find details of study space across campus on the Library refurbishment project page.

This includes around 800 spaces available in the URS Building, and other campus rooms available for immediate use, which you can find through the Free Room Finder.

Stay up to date

Keep checking the Library blog for the latest refurbishment news and updates.

Details of the Library facilities available in URS (including services, map and opening times) can be found on our dedicated Library@URS page.

For more information on the Library refurbishment, please see our dedicated project page.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager

Polishing up your masters dissertation – info tip

Student studyingAs you get into the last few weeks of work on your 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.

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 libguide. 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, 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 specializing 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 have a quote but don’t know where it came from, try one of our online dictionaries of quotations included in Credo Reference or Oxford Reference collections. Or type it into Google, framed with quotation marks e.g. “To be or not to be”. You may find it’s better to use a short phrase rather than the whole 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 could 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 the Web of Science allows you to save your searches to re-run against the latest updates to its databases. You can also set up RSS feeds and citation alerts (so that you are notified when someone cites your key articles). To set up email alerts, search the individual databases within Web of Science. Female student writingWatch the Saving your search and setting email alerts video for detailed instructions. You could check other databases for similar features.

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. 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.

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 Rachel Redrup, Liaison Librarian for Education.

Enterprise upgrade 26-27 July: some services disrupted

Fire extinguisher hung on wall behind grinning, enigmatic but cheeky blighter.

Systems Team Manager Sam is ready to fire-fight any possible blips after the Library systems upgrade, over-night on Wednesday 26 July.

Following on from our recent upgrade to Enterprise, our Library Catalogue, we need to do a bit more work to give us a robust, reliable system and take advantage of some new features. Whilst we do this Enterprise may be unavailable on Wednesday 26 July, between 15:00 and midnight.

You will still be able to …

  • Search the old Library catalogue, Unicorn to access book locations and some E-resources.  Or try Summon for some other E-resources.
  • Pop into the Library until 17:00 or ask at the URS Information Desk about your account, pay fines etc.

But you won’t be able to …

  • access your online Library account to renew your loans or pay fines.

This work should have finished by Thursday 27 July, but the catalogue will still be ‘at risk’ on that day as the Systems Team test the upgrade.  We will be sure to inform you if there are any other changes to the service that may occur.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager for
Sam Tyler, Library Systems Manager

Finding e-journals made easy with BrowZine – info tip

BrowZine logoWe provide you with access to thousands of journals, but how do you find out what’s available? You can search the Library catalogue, Enterprise, but if you’re just after journals, BrowZine is a good starting point. You can also use it to create your own collection of your favourite titles, and be notified when the latest issues become available.

Browse or search

You can browse for your subject to identify useful titles. Alternatively, search for a subject, or search for a specific journal by title, subject or ISSN.

The example below shows browsing Philosophy and Religion for Ethics/Bioethics related titles.

Browsing BrowZine for titles in Philosophy and specifically Ethics, showing a display of journal covers

Click on a title to see the contents of the latest issue, and to access earlier volumes. Clicking on a specific article will take you to the full-text on the publisher’s website, which you can then print or save.

Saving favourite journals & articles

When viewing journals on BrowZine you can create your own bookshelf of your favourite titles. Just click on ‘Add to my bookshelf’ under the journal title. You’ll need to login to do this. Simply sign up for an account if you haven’t already got one.

Once a journal is added to your bookshelf you’ll see notifications next to each title of the number of unread articles in that journal, helping you to keep track of the ones you’ve reviewed. For a quick intro on using the bookshelf to keep up-to-date watch this short video on staying current with Browzine.

You can also save details of useful articles using the ‘Add to my articles’ option.

Both journals and articles can be put into topic groupings of your own choice.

Accessing BrowZine

BrowZine can be used on your computer, or you can download the app for use on an Android or Apple device.

Getting help

Explore these videos which cover using BrowZine on the web or via the app. Alternatively, contact your subject liaison librarian for advice.

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

This tip was written by Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager and Liaison Librarian (English Language and Applied Linguistics & Food and Nutritional Sciences).

 

Citing references made easy with EndNote Web – info tip

Books, glasses and laptopAre you starting your dissertation? Do you lack confidence citing references in your work? Have you been marked down for inconsistencies in your bibliography?

EndNote Web can help!

What is EndNote Web?

EndNote Web is an online service you can use to:

  • store and organise useful references you find whilst researching topics
  • insert references in your Word document
  • automatically build and format your bibliography in a style of your choosing

It is designed for use by undergraduates and Masters students as it is a cut-down version of the Desktop EndNote program used by researchers (which is available on all PCs on campus).

How do I use it?

EndNote Web is freely available, but University members can access an enhanced version as part of the Library’s subscription to the Web of Science database. It can be used on a PC or a Mac.

Just log in to the Web of Science and sign up for an account. Once registered you can use it both on- and off-campus.

How do I get references into my EndNote Web library?

You can type in details of useful books and articles you have found. However, the quickest and most accurate methods are to export references from Library databases or use the Online search facility from within EndNote Web.

Direct export

This method is available on the Web of Science and all of the Ebsco databases (including Business Source Complete). Just search the database for your topic and save/export to EndNote Web.

Import

For many other databases it is easy to save a file of references and then Import them into EndNote Web. For more information on the method you will need to use for your favourite database take a look at our page about the database, this will include details of the Import option you need to select as part of the process. If you need advice, contact your subject liaison librarian.

Online search

The Online search facility within EndNote Web is particularly useful for searching library catalogues, and you can use it to get book references from our catalogue into your library.

Writing your essay or dissertation

Once you have references in your EndNote Web library you can insert them into your Word document as you write your essay or dissertation. Just download the Cite While You Write toolbar and use it in Word to search your library for the reference you want to insert and it will automatically put the citation in the text and build the bibliography at the end of your document.

EndNote Web Cite While You Write toolbar

You can select from a number of referencing styles (such as Numbered, APA, MHRA) or use the customised Harvard style which matches the style required by many of the science and life science departments here at Reading. Once you select a style, all of your citations and references will be reformatted automatically.

Getting help

Take a look at our Guide to getting starting with EndNote Web (PDF) will take you through all the steps involved in creating your EndNote Web account, getting references into your library and using it with Word to write your essays or dissertation. Or View videos on using EndNote Web produced by Thomson Reuters (suppliers of EndNote Web).

Alternatively, contact your subject liaison librarian for individual help and support.

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

This tip was written by Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager and Liaison Librarian (English Language and Applied Linguistics & Food and Nutritional Sciences).

Using University Special Collections for your dissertation – info tip

Are you planning your dissertation? You might want to consider using the University’s Special Collections of archives, manuscripts and rare books.

Why use Special Collections?

Rare book spinesOur collections include rare books, manuscripts, records, letters, photographs, maps and drawings. Using this type of material can add a unique dimension to your work and enliven your dissertation. You could, for example, encounter the annotations of previous readers in a book and discover what they thought of a text, get a glimpse of the inner workings of a farm or a publishing company by looking at their records, or find out how new discoveries in your discipline were communicated and disseminated at the time.  You are also much more likely to produce original research, which will help you gain you a better mark, and you will develop valuable research and critical thinking skills.

Walking into Special Collections can sometimes seem daunting – but it doesn’t have to be! We’re helpful folk down here, and we’re always happy to get you started. The University’s Special Collections are available for all students in the University, and you can access over 150 important collections covering a wide range of arts and humanities, science and social science discipline areas.

In the past, students have used Special Collections to research a wide range of subjects, including:

  • A collection of historical postcardsMills & Boon romantic fiction
  • Botanical illustration
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • The publishing industry
  • Mathematics
  • Bees
  • Farming records
  • Women’s history
  • Children’s literature
  • Architectural history

Finding items on your research topic

You may be surprised at the variety of material you can access to support your research! See the A-Z list of collections or our list of featured items for a flavour of what’s available.

Try the following to see if there is useful material for your research project:

Using Special Collections

A Wizard of Oz illustrationItems from our collections cannot be borrowed, but they can be consulted in our reading room. You’re advised to plan ahead and contact Special Collections prior to your visit, so that we can have the material ready for you for when you arrive. We are based on the London Road campus, in the same building as the Museum of English Rural Life.

Go to the Special Collections website for more useful information on using the service.

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

This tip was written by Erika Delbecque & Claire Wooldridge, UMASCS Librarians.

Getting help with your dissertation – info tip

A pen on a notebook next to a laptopNo matter how many essays you’ve written, working on a dissertation or research project can be overwhelming. They can involve lots of new skills from deciding on research questions through to those tricky final citations.

Whatever stage you are at there is lots of help available from the Library and Study Advice team!

Starting out: Search strategies and finding information

It can be a little daunting starting such a big project so you might want to start with the Study Advice guide on Dissertations and major projects or their video on defining your research question.

Once you have sorted your research questions you will need to start researching your topic. Look at the Library subject guide for your department to find key databases in your area. There is also a guide to doing a literature search, the LibLearn tutorials on Blackboard, or you could watch our videos on literature searching if you would like a break from reading!

If you are struggling to find the information that you need then you can contact the Liaison Librarian for your subject.

railroad tracksStaying on track

Once you have started your research the Study Advice team have some resources to help you keep going. If you are trying to tackle the literature you have found it might be a good idea to watch their videos on reading academic texts and critical notetaking.

With large projects like dissertations it is easy to feel like you have lots of time left only to find the deadline creeping up on you. When you are trying to balance your dissertation with lectures, other coursework and revision it is easy to fall behind so take a look at the Study Advice video on managing your time to get some tips.

Dissertations and research projects can also be harder to structure than a normal essay due to their size, this Study Advice video on structuring your dissertation has some helpful suggestions to get you started.

Writing up and referencing

Woman using MacBook

From wocintechchat.com

When you have a structure in place you will be ready to start writing up, if this seems a little overwhelming take a look at the Study Advice guidance on writing up your dissertation.

As it is a longer piece of writing than you are likely to have written before it is a good idea not to leave your referencing until the last minute, you do not want to lose precious marks because you ran out of time to format your bibliography! Luckily there is a way you can speed this process up; EndNote Web is a reference manager which can store details of what you have read, insert references into Word and automatically format your bibliography. There is a detailed guide on the Library website to get you started.

If you choose to insert your citations manually, and are not sure how to reference a particular resource or would like a refresher, there is lots of guidance on the Citing References guide. But don’t forget to check your student handbook for details of the referencing style required by your department.

Further Help

If you would like more information you can contact your Liaison Librarian or the Study Advice team.

Good luck with your research!

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

This tip was written by Jackie Skinner, Liaison Librarian English Language and Applied Linguistics & Food and Nutritional Sciences

My account is back!

Laptop, tablet and mobile on a deskWe’re pleased to let you know that the problem with logging in to Library accounts has been fixed. You should be able to access your account, renew your loans, pay fines and place holds as normal. However, there are ongoing IT issues on campus which means that this service might still be at risk of disruption.

Apologies for any inconvenience this has caused. If you experience any problems accessing your Library account please email library@reading.ac.uk.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager

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 the referencing guide or from the 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 would recommend using EndNote Web. This online resource can be used on any computer and is free to use.

You can get accurate reference details into it by: using the Online Search facility with the Library catalogue; the export option from Web of Science or EBSCO resources; or by importing records from Summon and other databases.

Once the EndNote toolbar is installed in Word, you can insert citations from EndNote Web into your assignments and it will automatically build the bibliography at the end. Select from a list of common referencing styles (including the University’s own ‘Harvard for Reading’ style) to format your bibliography.

EndNote Web is fully supported by the Library, so if you need 1-1 help, there will be someone here who can help.

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

If you are a research postgraduate or member of staff…

… we recommend using Desktop EndNote. This can be installed free of charge on any University-owned computer, and is already available on most campus PCs. A personal copy can be purchased at the discounted price of around £75.

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 also 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 Web 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