Planning your revision – info tip

Boy reading in sunshineEaster’s coming up fast, and you’re probably still completing assignments for the end of term. Exams might still seem a long way off now but they’ll be here before you know it. It’s a good time to start thinking about your revision – and the Library and Study Advice are here to help.

Working out a schedule

It’s important to have a plan, to make sure you have time to cover all the topics you need to. Avoid making your revision plan too detailed and prescriptive though – you will need to build in time for relaxation, exercise – and the unexpected!

Our Guide on preparing for exams includes tips for planning your revision, including more on how to work out your schedule. We also have a Study Seminar on this topic: Wed 8 March 2017, 2-3 in Palmer 105 – no need to book. And why not pick up a free year planner from the Study Advice office? They’re perfect for making your revision plan!

Finding materials for revision

You will probably start by reading through your lecture notes, and then looking at texts on your reading list. The Library has guidance on finding different types of publication as well as videos that will help you to get the most out of the Library.

You should also check the subject resources and guidance for information resources in your topic – much more reliable than ‘just Googling it’. And remember that, whether you’re revising on or off campus, our ebooks and ejournals are accessible 24/7.

Where will you revise?

With the current refurbishment continuing in the Library, you might be concerned about noise. But don’t worry – the University are making an alternative study space available in the URS building (the ‘Lego’ building, next-door to the Library). Study pods and PCs will still be available in this space and opening hours will remain the same, so there’ll be plenty of options for studying. You can also use the sleeping studentFree Room Finder to find classrooms that are not currently in use if you want an alternative place to revise on campus. Or see the list of alternative study spaces.

Wherever you revise, remember to take breaks. We may be open 24 hours but that doesn’t mean you have to work through the night – your brain needs rest and time for processing information.

Making your revision effective

If you can find six minutes in your busy schedule, you have enough time to watch our video tutorial on Effective revision – and save yourself a lot of wasted time. Our guide on preparing for exams also has tips on revision and memory techniques. If you’re taking exams in the UK for the first time, have a look at our information on assessment by examination in UK higher education to give you a clearer idea of how they may differ from what you have done in the past.

Remember that the purpose of revision is not to memorise everything you can find about the subject, but to prepare yourself to answer exam questions. Check the Past Paper archive on the Exams Office website to find examples of questions for your modules which you can use to write practice answers – to time and by hand, ideally. We have a Study Seminar on this topic: Wed 15 March 2017, 2-3 in Palmer 105 – no need to book. And have a look at our video tutorials on exams for guidance on the best way to prepare for different kinds of exams.

 

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, Michelle Reid, Sonia Hood and Erika Delbecque (Study Advice team).

What are the Study Advisers up to? (March 2017)

This post is the first in a planned series of regular updates and timely tips from the Study Advice team. For more on any topic, see our website or contact us at studyadvice@reading.ac.uk.

Thinking about dissertations?

With undergraduates hopefully reaching the final stages of their dissertations and Masters students starting to embark upon theirs, it’s a good time to remind you of our guides and video tutorials to help make dissertations and longer research projects more successful. These include:

Students are also welcome to book one-to-one appointments with us for more individual advice on the process of planning, researching and writing their dissertations (all contact details on our website). Study Advice will be available during Easter and Summer vacations when many people stay on campus to work on their projects. So for dissertation advice and support, do come our way!

New team member

Erika Delbecque has joined the Study Advice Team as a Part-Time Study Adviser. She is no stranger to the University of Reading having previously worked at the University Library as a Trainee Liaison Librarian, and will continue to work as a Part-Time Librarian at the University’s Museums and Special Collections Services alongside her new role.

Her first degree is in English and Dutch Literature, and she has gained postgraduate qualifications in Education and in Librarianship. Erika is particularly interested in digital literacies and the impact of technology on student learning, innovative pedagogical practices, and in supporting international students.

Making exam revision more effective

Spring is on its way and so too are university exams. With this in mind, it’s worth remembering Study Advice resources to help with exam revision. We have a range of information in our study guide and a suite of video tutorials. These cover topics including:

Tutors are welcome to link to any of these resources in revision sessions.

We also have two seminars on exams, both in Palmer 105 from 2-3:

  • Wed 8 March: Revising for Exams
  • Wed 15 March: Writing for Exams

You don’t need to book for these informal workshops; just turn up. In addition, students can book a one-to-one appointment with a Study Adviser to discuss revision plans and strategies on an individual basis.

Can we help you keep to your New Year’s resolutions? Info tip

midnightclockAhhh, New Year’s Day, when so many of us wake up and resolve never to do *that* again! But it’s also a chance to look back over the year, and think about what we could be doing differently. If you’re resolving to change your ways this year, the Library and Study Advice can help!

Resolving to spend more time studying?

Maybe you’ve decided you really ought to spend a bit more time working? Make this extra work time a bit more pleasant by finding your perfect place and time to study. The Library has a variety of study spaces to choose from, including quiet and silent areas and spaces for group discussions. If you’re a night owl, we’re open 24 hours a day in term-time – though make sure you get enough sleep too. If you’re going to spend more time in the Library, make the most of what we have to offer by exploring our guidance on finding and using information to find the texts you need when you need them.

Resolving to spend less time studying?

If you feel like you’re spending all your time studying, you may need to think about how you can make sure you’re using your time most efficiently. Study Advice have a guide to managing your time with suggestions and strategies to make more hours in your day. To get organised, you might find our free folding year planners useful. Pick one up from the Study Advice offices in Room 103 on the 1st floor of the Library. There are also guides and video tutorials on two things that often eat up your time: reading and note-taking – see if our strategies can help you conquer these time-eating monsters!

pile of booksWant to get on top of your references?

Making sure your referencing is correct can be confusing, so if you’ve resolved to get on top of this have a look at our comprehensive guide on citing references. It has all the information you need to understand what to do and when to do it. It might also be a good time to set up a reference management program to keep track of all of your references in the future. We offer support, guides and training on EndNote, but do be aware that there are other programs you can use.

Or make sure you prepare for exams in good time?

Resolved to be more prepared for exams this year? Start by looking at the tips in the Study Advice Preparing for Exams guide on planning your revision. Get started now, and you could be the most relaxed person in the exam room! It’s also a good time to sit back and watch our brief video showing you how to place a hold on a Library book. Be the person who knows how to get their hands on the revision reading they need when they need it…

Do you want to boost your marks this year?

If 2017 is the year you’re going to get that 2.1, or that First, or another First (but this time knowing why you got it), you’ll probably find it helpful to book a one-to-one chat with a Study Adviser. We can look at how you’re studying and suggest ways to develop your skills, or go through your feedback with you to see what you might need to focus on. Or you could have a look at the Study Advice guides and video tutorials – 24/7 advice for successful studying! And while you’re getting to know us, check out how to find the Liaison Librarian for your subject; they can help you find the best resources for studying in your subject area.

And finally, if you want to make sure you stay well-informed?

Did you miss our Library photo competition this year? Or wish you’d known about our study advice seminar on writing an excellent essay? A good way to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the Library and Study Advice is to follow us on social media. You can find Study Advice on Twitter at @UniRdg_Study, and the Library at @UniRdg_Library. The Library is also on Facebook at /universityofreadinglibrary and Instagram at @unirdg_library.

happynewyearSo, no excuses to miss all the good things coming your way in 2017. Happy New Year from all of us to all of you!

 

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 Amy Rippon, Trainee Liaison Librarian.

 

E-books: access key texts wherever you are! – info tip

A tablet containing an electronic book on a bookshelf with printed books.

Are all the print copies of the book you need to read out on loan? Have you reached the limit on the number of books you can borrow at any one time from the Library but you still need to read more? Is it cold and raining or you just don’t want to leave your room? No problem – the Library may have an e-book! E-books are available to you 24/7 from any device which is connected to the internet so are great when you’re off-campus. If you haven’t used e-books before, or want to make sure you’re getting the best experience, have a look at our LibGuide on e-books.

Finding e-books

You can find e-books using either Enterprise or Summon. Enter your search terms into the search box, then refine your results. On Enterprise you will need to choose the Online and Book filters on the left-hand side; on Summon you can select the Publication Type E-book from the filters on the left-hand side. See the Library’s guide on Summon for tips on how to make your results even more specific to what you need.

Accessing e-books

It’s important to know that our e-books are not all available on the same platform. Take a look at the Library’s page on e-books for a list of the different available platforms and more information on what they will let you do.

Woman using laptopAlthough all our e-books can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, most e-book platforms do not automatically re-format the size of the text to fit your device. For the best viewing experience we would recommend accessing our e-books from a PC or laptop computer.

Most of our e-books use online e-reader software which is integrated into the platform, so you should not need to download any additional software. For some e-books you will need to download the relevant chapters in PDF format to view them. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read these.

Some of our e-books can be downloaded in full, but you may be prompted to install Adobe Digital Editions software to view them on your device. This software is different to Adobe Acrobat.

How can e-books help you to study smarter?

E-books have features which you can use to help you in your studies. For instance, you can search the text electronically to find key words or phrases. You can easily print off specific pages from most e-books, saving you the trouble of photocopying (though remember that rules about Copyright and the amount you can copy still apply). You can also annotate the e-book, writing your own notes which you can print or export. Don’t try doing this on a paper Library book!

If you’re using reference management software like EndNote, you may be able to directly export the details you will need for your citations. Do remember to use details for the e-book version, as page numbers may not be the same as in the print version. For more information on referencing, see our Citing References guide, or the Academic Integrity Toolkit.

ebookWhy can’t I access this e-book?

Some platforms, such as MyiLibrary and EBSCOhost only allow an e-book to be viewed by one or sometimes three people at a time. If you get a message saying the e-book is already in use, take a quick break and try accessing it again after a few minutes.

Any problems?

If you’d like more help on how to find and use e-books effectively, get in touch with your Liaison Librarian. If you’re experiencing technical difficulties accessing e-books, please contact the E-resources Team via the Problem Report Form.

 

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

This tip was written by Rachael Scott, Content Manager and Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

Cite it right – and avoid unintentional plagiarism! Info tip

standing on the shoulders of giantsYou 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 and 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:

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 Web 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 Helen Hathaway, Library Head of Academic Liaison and Support and Dr Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

Challenge yourself to maximise your library and study skills in Week 6 – info tip

Student studyingWant to make sure you get the best possible marks by working smarter not harder? Week 6 is the perfect time to review and develop the skills you need to succeed and work effectively in your studies. The Library and Study Advice teams have guides and videos that will help you achieve just this. And why not take one of our challenges and learn a new skill that will make your studying more successful and help you to find excellent resources?

What do you need to develop?

Everyone starts from a different place and progresses through their studies at a different pace, so you will need to consider what your own needs are and how they are best met, but the suggestions below should have something for you.

Ten challenges to try something new

  1. Pick up a free year planner from Study Advice and get control over your deadlines.
  2. Learn how to access and use an e-book.
  3. Sign up to Evernote or Remember the Milk to keep yourself organised.
  4. Use Summon to find a newspaper article or book review that’s related to your subject.
  5. Try a new learning technique – video or record yourself talking for three minutes on a topic from your course.
  6. Set up an EndNote Web account to store your references.
  7. Start a reading diary to record your reflections on what you’ve read (use a paper notebook or set up a private blog).
  8. Find a map that will help with your subject – they’re not just for Geographers!
  9. Watch a video tutorial on an aspect of study that you need to develop.
  10. And finally, take a break from studying and use Enterprise to find and borrow a film on DVD – we’ve lots to choose from.

Alarm clock“I don’t have time to develop my skills!”

It can be hard to develop new skills when you’re already busy using the old ones – but it’s worth doing to save lots of time in the future. If you don’t have much time, try these quick ideas:

If you’ve got 5 minutes…

If you’ve got 10 minutes…

  • Record yourself recapping the main points of your last lecture – it’s more effective than rewriting your notes.
  • Open an EndNote Web account to manage your references, then bookmark our guides and training sessions to find out how to use it.

If you’ve got 30 minutes…

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

This tip was written by Helen Hathaway, Head of Academic Liaison and Support, Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Sally Smith, Liaison Librarian.

Adjusting to study in UK higher education: Info tip

international graduatesFor 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).

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 4th Floor with classification 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. Local newspapers for Reading are the Reading Post and the Reading Chronicle.

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) and language dictionaries. These can be found on the 3rd Floor. While you’re there, you might also borrow a novel to practise your reading for pleasure, or a film on DVD to help your listening skills. Alternatively, you may prefer to improve your English language skills by using the Teaching Practice Collection on the 3rd Floor of the Library which includes an extensive collection of children’s literature in English, both fiction and non-fiction.

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 budgeting.

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.

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 Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Helen Hathaway, Head of Academic Liaison and Support.

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 are also guides 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 should you do?

You may find you have a key piece of information, but do not have all the details you need for your bibliography. If you have some details (for instance, author, title, journal title, date) it may be possible to find the complete reference.

For a journal article, look at 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.

Give your dissertation an edge by including the most up-to-date information you can

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.

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. 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 printing and binding service.

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 Helen Hathaway, Head of Academic Liaison and Support and Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

Planning your revision – info tip

Easter’s coming up fast, and you’re probably still completing assignments for the end of term. Exams might still seem a long way off now but they’ll be here before you know it. It’s a good time to start thinking about your revision – and the Library and Study Advice are here to help.

 

Working out a schedulefree year planners
It’s important to have a plan, to make sure you have time to cover all the topics you need to. Avoid making your revision plan too detailed and prescriptive though – you will need to build in time for relaxation, exercise – and the unexpected!

See our Study Guide on Planning your revision for more on how to work out your schedule. And why not pick up a free year planner from the Study Advice office – perfect for making your revision plan!

 

Finding materials for revision
You will probably start by reading through your lecture notes, and then looking at texts on your reading list. The Library has guidance on finding different types of publication as well as videos that will help you to get the most out of the Library.

You should also check the subject resources and guidance for information resources in your topic – much more reliable than ‘just Googling it’. And remember that, whether you’re revising on or off campus, our ebooks and ejournals are accessible 24/7.

 

Where will you revise?
The Library is many students’ first choice of location for revision. We have dedicated group, quiet and silent study areas so whether you want to work alone or with a group of friends, there will be a suitable place for you. However, the Library can get busy in exam period. So for alternative places to revise on campus, check the list of study spaces.sleeping student

Wherever you revise, remember to take breaks. We may be open 24 hours but that doesn’t mean you have to work through the night – your brain needs rest and time for processing information.

 

Making your revision effective
If you can find six minutes in your busy schedule, you can watch our video tutorial on Effective revision – and save yourself a lot of wasted time. We also have a Study Guide on revision and memory techniques. If you’re taking exams in the UK for the first time, have a look at our information on assessment by examination in UK higher education to give you a clearer idea of how they may differ from what you have done in the past.

Remember that the purpose of revision is not to memorise everything you can find about the subject, but to prepare yourself to answer exam questions. Check the Past Paper archive on the Exams Office website to find examples of questions for your modules which you can use to write practice answers – to time and by hand, ideally. And have a look at our video tutorials on exams for guidance on the best way to prepare for different kinds of exams.

 

Where to get more help
If you have any questions about revising or taking exams at university, make an appointment to meet with a Study Adviser – they can give you friendly, expert 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 Kim Shahabudin, Michelle Reid and Sonia Hood (Study Advice team).

Cite it right – and avoid unintentional plagiarism! Info tip

11548You 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 and 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).

For more advice, Citing References combines previous guides 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 guidance on:

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

Know when to include a reference

References in a footnoteWhenever 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.

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 a guide 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 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 Web 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.

What should you do if you can’t find all the details of a reference?

Slide from tutorial on finding bibliographic detailsIf 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 Helen Hathaway, Library Head of Academic Liaison and Support and Dr Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

E-books: access key texts wherever you are! – info tip

E-book on a bookshelfAre all the print copies of the book you need to read out on loan? Have you reached the limit on the number of books you can borrow at any one time from the Library but you still need to read more? Is it cold and raining or you just don’t want to leave your room? No problem – the Library may have an e-book! E-books are available to you 24/7 from any device which is connected to the internet so are great when you’re off-campus. If you haven’t used e-books before, or want to make sure you’re getting the best experience, have a look at our LibGuide on e-books.

Finding e-books

You can find e-books using either Enterprise or Summon. Enter your search terms into the search box, then refine your results. On Enterprise you will need to choose the Online and Book filters on the left-hand side; on Summon you can select the Publication Type E-book from the filters on the left-hand side. See the Library’s guide on Summon for tips on how to make your results even more specific to what you need.

Accessing e-books

It’s important to know that our e-books are not all available on the same platform. Take a look at the Library’s page on e-books for a list of the different available platforms and more information on what they will let you do.

student using e-resourcesAlthough all our e-books can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, most e-book platforms do not automatically re-format the size of the text to fit your device. For the best viewing experience we would recommend accessing our e-books from a PC or laptop computer.

Most of our e-books use online e-reader software which is integrated into the platform, so you should not need to download any additional software. For some e-books you will need to download the relevant chapters in PDF format to view them. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read these.

 

How can e-books help you to study smarter?

E-books have features which you can use to help you in your studies. For instance, you can search the text electronically to find key words or phrases. You can easily print off specific pages from most e-books, saving you the trouble of photocopying (though remember that rules about Copyright and the amount you can copy still apply). You can also annotate the e-book, writing your own notes which you can print or export. Don’t try doing this on a paper Library book!

If you’re using reference management software like EndNote, you may be able to directly export the details you will need for your citations. Do remember to use details for the e-book version, as page numbers may not be the same as in the print version. For more information on referencing, see our Citing References guide.

Why can’t I access this e-book?

ebook

Some platforms, such as MyiLibrary and EBSCOhost only allow an e-book to be viewed by one or sometimes three people at a time. If you get a message saying the e-book is already in use, take a quick break and try accessing it again after a few minutes.

Any problems?

If you’d like more help on how to find and use e-books effectively, get in touch with your Liaison Librarian. If you’re experiencing technical difficulties accessing e-books, please contact the E-resources Team via the Problem Report Form.

 

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

This tip was written by Rachael Scott, Content Manager and Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.