Adjusting to study in UK higher education – info tip

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

Understanding university study in the UK

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

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

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

Developing effective practices for UK study

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

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

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

Building your cultural and language knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Broaden your horizons by learning a language – info tip

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

Choose your language

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

Choose how to study

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

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

Male student reading italian textBeyond the language

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

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

Where in the Library?

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

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

Other language learning resources in the University

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

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

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

Get ahead by reading around your subject – info tip

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

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

How will it help me?

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

How can we help you?

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

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

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

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

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

Getting the most out of your reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parts of UK Data Service down 23-29 August

Books, glasses and a tabletThe UK Data Service are carrying out essential maintenance of their systems during this week and next. They will also be making improvements to their website.

Their online services will be interrupted during the deployment phase, from Thursday 23 August until Wednesday 29 August, with normal services expected to resume on Friday 30 August. Some parts of their current website, account area and data catalogue will be unavailable during this period.  Although some parts of the website should still be active, we recommend that you download or request any data you need by Wednesday 22 August.

Sophie Dorman, E-resources Team

‘Bye, bye’ Folio and ‘Hello’ Large

Plan of the 3rd Floor showing the new, bright coloursOn Monday we will be updating the Library catalogue Enterprise to reflect the new clearer terminology we are adopting to help make the Library easier to use. Call Numbers will be changed to have new, more understandable prefixes:

  • Folio– will become Large–F
  • Periodical– will become Journals–PER or Journals–PER F
  • Middle Folio– will become Oversize–MF

These prefixes match the new colourful floor plans and labels we introduced earlier in the summer. We hope that the new, brighter colours for each section are more noticeable so that you are less likely to end up in the wrong place:

  • Books –  bright blue
  • Large – bright pink
  • Journals – orange
  • Teaching Practice – bright green
  • Oversize – dark grey

For more detail on all the changes we are making see our previous post.

Tell us what you think

During the coming term we will evaluating how well the new words and colours work for you. We’ll be employing various User Experience (UX) techniques to test them, but we would also like your feedback. If you have any comments about these changes please email signage co-ordinator Jackie Skinner, jackie.skinner@reading.ac.uk.

Jackie Skinner
for Paul Johnson (Associate Director, Collections, Research & Space)

ProQuest databases unavailable 18th-19th August

Open laptopProQuest will be carrying out essential maintenance on their websites this weekend. Whilst this work takes place, from 17:00 on Saturday 18th August – 11:00 on Sunday 19th August, the following databases will not be available:

During this time, you may wish to explore some of our other resources by using the Summon discovery service or looking at your subject guide.

Sophie Dorman, E-resources Team

Change of access method for some resources

Laptop and bookDue to ongoing problems with one of the authentication we use for access to our e-resources, we have had to change the way we provide you with access to some resources.

The resources that are affected are:

In each case, on-campus access will be unaffected, although you may find you are not asked to log in as often. For off-campus access, you will need to follow the instructions for each resource that are available on the database information pages on the Library website. These are linked above where available. These instructions will also appear if you search for a journal title via Enterprise or the E-journals Finder, and will appear in the Summon sidebar.A screenshot showing where to locate access instructions in the Summon sidebar, underneath the bibliographic and holdings information.

This is a temporary solution to the problem, and we hope to be able to provide a more stable access method for these resources soon.

If you would like more information about this, or are having difficulty accessing anything, please either submit a Problem Report Form or email eresourceshelp@reading.ac.uk.

Sophie Dorman, E-resources Team

Polishing up your Masters dissertation – info tip

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

Editing, proof-reading and referencing

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

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

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

Incomplete reference? What to do?

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

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

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

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

Get the edge with up-to-date information

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

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

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

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

Staying motivated

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

Layout and binding

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

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

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

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

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

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

Library open this Saturday!

The Library is open this Saturday 18 August!   Girl reading

Working on your dissertation? Busy in the week?  Make use of the Library this Saturday!

The Library will be open between 11:00 – 17:00.

The URS building will be closed.

Check full Library opening hours for more details.

Holly Thomas, Library User Services

We are going cashless!

From Monday 6 August the Library will no longer be able to accept payment by cash or cheque. The coins fines payment machine in the Library will also disappear. 

The Ground Floor Information desk in the URS Building will still accept credit/debit/campus card or contactless payments.   University members can also pay online 24/7 via the Campus Card Portal.
As part of the Library’s refurbishment new self-service points will be installed with integrated electronic payment facilities.

The change is part of the University’s strategy which will see cash & cheque payments phased out across campus.

Rebecca Ashley on behalf of Nick Hollis, Library User Services Manager

What’s new in Digimap?

New licence agreements

From 1 August, Digimap (our online map and spatial data delivery service) will implement new licences.  The first time you log in after this date, you will need to agree to the new licences before you can access the service. Log in as usual and follow the prompts – there’s no need to re-register your details.

New look

When you log in, you will see that Digimap has a new look. The homepage has been refreshed, while retaining the easy access and functionality of the  old page.

Digimap home page 2018

As with the current homepage, login is possible either using the ‘Log In’ button in the top right corner or by accessing each Roam or Data Download application directly (see the ‘Geology Roam’ and ‘Geology Data Download’ example below:

Geology Digimap home

More information about the maps and data in each collection is now given, and there is also more detail on how to access the maps and data and easier links to Help information.

New resource – Marine Digimap

As part of the new licensing agreement, we now have access to Marine Digimap. This has two types of data:

  • Nautical charts – derived from UK Hydrographic Office paper charts
  • Marine themes – including elevation, shipwrecks, aquaculture areas, windfarms and navigational features

Marine Digimap could be useful for offshore engineering projects, management of marine and coastal environments, marine ecology studies, environmental impact assessments and tourism.

Digimap Marine example

Judith Fox, Map Librarian

Library refurbishment: toilets, stairs and landscaping changes

When using the Library building after Monday 30 July, please be aware of the latest changes due to ongoing refurbishment. These affect where to find toilet facilities, accessing upper floors and approaching the Library building entrance.

Use stairs behind lifts

Red barriers on slate floor with balconies above

Please use lifts and adjacent stairs in the centre of the building.

Do not be alarmed if, on entering the Library, you no longer see a flight of stairs directly in front of the current entrance. These have been demolished as part of Ground Floor refurbishment. Until newly installed stairs are ready to use at a later stage, please use the existing stairs behind the lifts in the centre of the building. Ask at our Info Point for directions.

Toilets on the 3rd Floor

Red arrow points to door labelled as gender neutral toilet next to book shelves

New toilets are on the 3rd Floor, behind the book area, on the east side.

Take your first opportunity to try out the new gender-neutral and accessible toilets at the far end of the recently re-opened 3rd Floor! (See our 3rd Floor plan.)

Opening these new facilities means we have closed the Ground Floor toilets, so that contractors can work on with creating new single-sex toilets as part of Ground Floor refurbishment. This section is due to open in autumn this year.

The nearest single-sex toilets to the Library are located in the URS and Edith Morley buildings. Please ask Library staff at the Ground Floor Help Point who can point you in the right direction.

Image of refurbished University Library surrounded by seating, trees and hedges.Landscaping refurb: outside seating and planters to be replaced

Also after Monday 30 July, contractors will be fencing off the outside seating and brick-built planters directly outside the Library building. These are to be removed in anticipation of new landscaping to complement Library refurbishment.

Please walk between the fencing and hoardings to access the Library entrance. Watch out for occasional traffic directed by contractors’ when gates are opened.

More information

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

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator