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 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 Dr Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian.

Challenge yourself to maximise your Library and Study Skills – 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. Learn how to access and use an e-book.
  2. Sign up to an app like Forest, Evernote, Tomato-Timer or Remember the Milk to keep yourself organised and on schedule.
  3. Use Summon to find a newspaper article or book review that’s related to your subject.
  4. Try a new learning technique – video or record yourself talking for three minutes on a topic from your course.
  5. Set up an EndNote Web account to store your references.
  6. Start a reading diary to record your reflections on what you’ve read (use a paper notebook or set up a private blog).
  7. Find a map that will help with your subject – they’re not just for geographers!
  8. Watch a video tutorial on an aspect of study that you need to develop.
  9. Pick up a free year planner from Study Advice and get control over your deadlines.
  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…

  • Enrol on a LibLearn tutorial to learn how to get the most out of your library – there are advanced versions if you’ve already tried one.
  • Book a session with a Study Adviser to review your study practices and see if there’s anything your could develop.
  • If you’re a Part 1 undergraduate who hasn’t enrolled in Study Smart yet, now’s your last chance – free enrolment only remains open till 12 Nov. Check your emails for details of how to do this: once you’re enrolled you retain access to the resources for the whole year. If you’re already enrolled, re-read any sections that are more directly relevant to what you’re doing now in your studies.

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 Sally Smith, Liaison Librarian.

Using Library books around refurb work

Here’s an update on accessing Library resources within the Library Building, even though many other areas are closed for Library Refurbishment Project construction work.

Using Library resources

Tall man holds small book, small lady holds large book outside UoR Library

Large size arts & hums books have moved up to our 4th Floor; normal sized items down to the 2nd Floor.

The 2nd and 4th Floors of the Library are open, containing all your books. This includes arts and humanities material, relocated from the now-closed 3rd Floor: normal size material went to the 2nd Floor; larger size and Teaching Practice Collection items to the 4th Floor. If you need any help finding anything, just ask Library staff at 2nd or 4th Floor Information Desks.

A few unique print journals are retained on the 4th Floor, but as most print journals are unavailable until after refurbishment, we encourage you to use our online journals or request an inter-library loan.

Man uses Library Self-Service Point machines of right, computers on left.Although much of the Ground Floor is now out-of bounds, we created a small area at the bottom of the main stairs for you to borrow, return or renew your loans at Self-Service Points or use PCs and catalogues. Just ask at the Help Point by the entrance if you need assistance. Ground Floor toilets are also still available.

Library construction work

White cloth over doors to 3rd Floor from stairsYou may have heard construction work in progress from areas closed-off for your safety (Ground Floor, 1st, 3rd and 5th Floors). Our contractors are demolishing internal walls in advance of refurbishing our 1st and Ground Floors; removing staircase 2 before installing new accessible lifts; and preparing to install new heating, ventilation and toilets on our 3rd Floor; besides installing new windows. Find out more about our plans on our Library Refurbishment Project webpage or visit our URS Building display (2nd Floor landing by Café Libro) for images of future development and previously refurbished floors, which will be reinstated.

URS Building facilities

Lego construction figures arranged around book and large single black Lego brick

Remember! Library Building = books + builders; URS (Lego) Building = study space + services.

Remember to visit the URS Building for Library services and study space, next door at the other end of the orange brick road, further away from potential construction noise. This is also where you will find Cafe Libro, Course Collection material and can collect ‘holds’.

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator

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.