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 4th 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) and language dictionaries. These can be found on the 2nd and 4th Floors. While on the 2nd Floor, 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 4th 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 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 – learn 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 currently located on the 2nd and 4th Floors. Look for the 400s section – normal size books are on the 2nd Floor and Folio (large) size books are on the 4th Floor. You may find some language learning resources in the Teaching Practice Collection, which is on the 4th Floor. 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, films on DVD and Field maps, head to the 2nd Floor – films at Call Number 791.437, literature is located in the 800s section and Field maps in the ‘Maps’ section. Books on the history of various countries are located on the 4th Floor.

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.

New online resources – try them now!

Laptop and bookWe now have access to a number of newly purchased online resources – available to use from on- and off-campus.

  • Thesaurus Linguae Graecae -the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) contains the majority of the surviving literary texts written in Greek from Homer to the fall of Constantinople.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts  references to publications covering political science and international relations, including international law and public administration/policy. Includes journal articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, and working papers, from 1975 to the present.
  • Drama Online: Shakespeare & Early Modern Drama Videos – a new addition to our existing Drama Online collections, covering key plays and acting techniques, including Maxine Peake’s Hamlet, Stage on Screen, and a Shakespeare Acting Masterclass from Patsy Rodenburg.
  • Oxford Handbooks Online – we now have access to the new 2017 Literature collection, 2016 and 2017 Linguistics collections, and the 2017 History collection.
  • Oxford Scholarly Editions Online – access is now open to three more collections: Renaissance Drama, Renaissance Poetry, and Renaissance Prose.
  • Routledge Historical Resources: History of Feminism – this resource provides access to materials on feminism (covering the period 1776-1928) published by Taylor & Francis. It includes primary and secondary sources, such as full books, selected chapters, and journal articles, as well as thematic essays.

The library provides access to many more online resources – you can find more information on our E-resources webpage.

Lucy Ardill, E-resources Team

Get ahead by reading around your subject – info tip

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

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

How will it help me?

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

How can we help you?

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

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

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

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

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

Getting the most out of your reading

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

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

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

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

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

This info tip was written by Tim Chapman, Science and Life Sciences Liaison Team Manager and Ian Chilvers, Liaison Librarian for Computer Science & Mathematics and Statistics.

More journal archives now available

ArchiveWe have recently purchased access to a number of online archives to give you full access to articles in older issues of these journals and newspapers:

You can also find resources relevant to your subject by exploring your subject guide.

Lucy Ardill, E-resources Team

 

Resolved – problems downloading on the ScienceDirect platform

We are pleased to say that the problems with downloading PDFs from ScienceDirect have been resolved and you should be able to use this resource as normal. You may need to clear your browser cache and cookies first.

If you experience difficulties accessing any of our resources please fill in the E-resources problem report form and we will do our best to assist you.

Apologies for any inconvenience this has caused.

Lucy Ardill, E-resources Team

Library refurbishment: path deviation and demolition of staircase

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

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

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

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

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

Study space across campus

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

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

Stay up to date

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

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

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

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager

Library refurbishment: path deviation

Orange barrier across footpath with partially demilished Library building behindIf you walk or cycle around the south west corner of the University Library Building, please be aware of a path diversion. We have redirected some pathways to send pedestrians and cyclists, more safely, a little further away from the building, in preparation for demolition of Library staircase 2 over the next few weeks. Please just walk around under the end of the URS Building to regain your route.Hoardings across path to one side of Library building

Rachel Redrup
Library Marketing Co-ordinator

Polishing up your masters dissertation – info tip

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

Editing, proof-reading and referencing

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

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

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

Incomplete reference? What to do?

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

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

If you have a quote but don’t know where it came from, try one of our online dictionaries of quotations included in Credo Reference or Oxford Reference collections. Or type it into Google, framed with quotation marks e.g. “To be or not to be”. You may find it’s better to use a short phrase rather than the whole quote; try to find a grouping of words that stands out. What you must never do is invent details, or include things in your dissertation if you cannot be sure about the source. This may lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

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

Get the edge with up-to-date information

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

For example the Web of Science allows you to save your searches to re-run against the latest updates to its databases. You can also set up RSS feeds and citation alerts (so that you are notified when someone cites your key articles). To set up email alerts, search the individual databases within Web of Science. Female student writingWatch the Saving your search and setting email alerts video for detailed instructions. You could check other databases for similar features.

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

Staying motivated

It can be difficult to motivate yourself to get to the finishing line, and it’s easy to underestimate how long the finishing touches may take. Breaking your remaining tasks down and setting deadlines to get each ticked off can help. Study Advice have some further suggestions on staying motivated.

Layout and binding

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

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

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

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

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

This tip was written by Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Rachel Redrup, Liaison Librarian for Education.

Enterprise upgrade 26-27 July: some services disrupted

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

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

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

You will still be able to …

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

But you won’t be able to …

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

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

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

ProQuest problems fixed!

Books, glasses and a tabletWe’re pleased to say that the problems we were experiencing with access to ProQuest resources have been fixed. You should be able to access all our e-resources as usual.

If you experience any issues, please let us know by completing the E-resources problem report form.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager

Making the most of our map resources – info tip

Field mapsDid you know that University of Reading Library has more than 70,000 maps and atlases and is one of the largest university collections in the country? Our maps can be used for your teaching, research, and holidays!

Geographical cover

We have excellent coverage of Britain, including detailed coverage of Berkshire and the Reading area. Coverage of Europe is also very good, at least to road map level of most countries.

Coverage of the rest of the world varies with what is available – it may not be possible to obtain recent maps of some areas, especially as many governments consider maps to be politically sensitive. However we will certainly have something for all parts of the globe.

Date range

Reading 1761Although the collection is mostly post-1900, we have many facsimiles of earlier maps, including reproductions of English 18th century county atlases.

We also have Ordnance Survey maps dating back to 1830, as well as access to Historic Digimap, so it is possible to produce a time sequence of maps of a particular place.

Older versions of atlases and maps may reveal hidden information about a place and its past.

Types of map

You need to consider the type of map you need, and what you are planning to do with it.  Maps come in a variety of different types:

  •     Sheet maps or atlases
  •     Flat or folded
  •     Loanable or reference
  •     General purpose or thematic
  •     Paper or digital

Atlases are generally available for loan, and are mostly found in the 912 and FOLIO–912 sequences on the 4th Floor.

Most of the map collection is non-loan, but a set of folded ‘Field maps’, including British Landranger and geology maps, are available for loan on the 2nd Floor.

Thematic maps show geology, soil types, land use, population, languages – anything which can be shown with a spatial distribution.  Many maps of this type are included in atlases, but may also be found as sheet maps.

Digital maps

roam TowerDigital maps are of increasing importance. For Great Britain, Digimap delivers maps and map data from official sources to UK higher education, and you can easily create authoratative location and site maps.  There are five different collections available to members of the University of Reading:

  • Digimap – contemporary Ordnance Survey maps and data, ranging from small scale base maps to detailed large scale plans
  • Historic Digimap – historic Ordnance Survey maps from 1840 to the 1990s.  They can be compared side-by-side to help follow changes in the landscape
  • Geology Digimap – geology maps and data from the British Geological Survey (BGS)
  • Environment Digimap – landcover maps for different years, from the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).  This collection includes scans of the Dudley Stamp Land Use maps from the 1930s
  • Aerial Digimap – detailed aerial photography in a single seamless coverage, captured since 2000

A simple print out can be produced, or data can be downloaded and used in a Geographical Information System in conjunction with your own data. Look at the GIS & remote sensing section of our LibGuide to find other online sources of digital maps and data.

How to find them

To find paper maps the first step is to search the Enterprise catalogue. Search for the location you want, then refine using the format in the ‘Limit these results’ function to include only maps and atlases (atlases are listed separately – you may need to select ‘more’ to see all the options). Try not to be too specific – a more general search will produce better results.

For more information about searching for maps in Enterprise, and maps in general see the Maps LibGuide.

You can also see our short video presentation, Using maps for your research in University of Reading Library.

Or you can ask the Map Librarian! I am happy to help –  email me for an appointment, or find me at the 2nd Floor Information Desk.

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

This tip was written by Judith Fox, Map Librarian.