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.

Cite it right – and avoid unintentional plagiarism!

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.

Engage with Cengage primary sources event: 20 January

Blue rectangles arranged in a circle next to the word 'Cengage'Looking for ideas for your dissertation? Drop in to the Library’s Ground Floor this Friday 20 January 2017, anytime 10:00-16:00, to explore some full-text, primary sources available via the Artemis Primary Sources Platform, from one of our main suppliers, Cengage. Cengage staff will be on hand to demonstrate these resources to help you discover primary sources and possible topics for your dissertation:

To see the full range of e-resources to which the University of Reading Library subscribes, see our Databases by subject or Databases A-Z lists.

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator

Ramp up your reading efficiency – info tip

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

Reading with a purpose

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

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

Understand the purpose for your reading:

 

Think about what you need to find out:

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

 

Identify where you can find this information out:

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

 

Coloured pens and notebooksNote this!

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

 

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

Spending too long reading?

Reading is a potentially open-ended task – there is always one more book or journal article in the Library that you could read. If you feel your reading is taking too long, have a look at the Study Advice guides on Managing your time including advice on getting organised, making more time in the day, and avoiding distractions. Putting limits around your reading time and stopping it from becoming an endless task can improve your efficiency and your motivation!

 

This tip was written by Dr Michelle Reid, Study Adviser

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.