Getting help with your dissertation – info tip

A pen on a notebook next to a laptopNo matter how many essays you’ve written, working on a dissertation or research project can be overwhelming. They can involve lots of new skills from deciding on research questions through to those tricky final citations.

Whatever stage you are at there is lots of help available from the Library and Study Advice team!

Starting out: Search strategies and finding information

It can be a little daunting starting such a big project so you might want to start with the Study Advice guide on Dissertations and major projects or their video on defining your research question.

Once you have sorted your research questions you will need to start researching your topic. Look at the Library subject guide for your department to find key databases in your area. There is also a guide to doing a literature search, the LibLearn tutorials on Blackboard, or you could watch our videos on literature searching if you would like a break from reading!

If you are struggling to find the information that you need then you can contact the Liaison Librarian for your subject.

railroad tracksStaying on track

Once you have started your research the Study Advice team have some resources to help you keep going. If you are trying to tackle the literature you have found it might be a good idea to watch their videos on reading academic texts and critical notetaking.

With large projects like dissertations it is easy to feel like you have lots of time left only to find the deadline creeping up on you. When you are trying to balance your dissertation with lectures, other coursework and revision it is easy to fall behind so take a look at the Study Advice video on managing your time to get some tips.

Dissertations and research projects can also be harder to structure than a normal essay due to their size, this Study Advice video on structuring your dissertation has some helpful suggestions to get you started.

Writing up and referencing

Woman using MacBook

From wocintechchat.com

When you have a structure in place you will be ready to start writing up, if this seems a little overwhelming take a look at the Study Advice guidance on writing up your dissertation.

As it is a longer piece of writing than you are likely to have written before it is a good idea not to leave your referencing until the last minute, you do not want to lose precious marks because you ran out of time to format your bibliography! Luckily there is a way you can speed this process up; EndNote Web is a reference manager which can store details of what you have read, insert references into Word and automatically format your bibliography. There is a detailed guide on the Library website to get you started.

If you choose to insert your citations manually, and are not sure how to reference a particular resource or would like a refresher, there is lots of guidance on the Citing References guide. But don’t forget to check your student handbook for details of the referencing style required by your department.

Further Help

If you would like more information you can contact your Liaison Librarian or the Study Advice team.

Good luck with your research!

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

This tip was written by Jackie Skinner, Liaison Librarian English Language and Applied Linguistics & Food and Nutritional Sciences

‘Careers on tour’: 7 February

UoR Careers Ambassadors will be back on Tuesday 7 February on the Ground Floor foyer of the University Library. Drop in between 12:00 – 14:00 to find out more about their services available to you, including:

Further information

For more from Careers follow UoR Careers on Twitter. (UoR Job Shop covers news of part-time or vacation work).

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator for
Isabella Masciaga, Careers Events Assistant

Book Desktop EndNote training for easy referencing!

Student studyingThere are spaces still available on next week’s beginner’s Desktop EndNote workshop for postgraduate students, researchers and staff.

Come along to learn how to use EndNote to…

  • store details of the books and articles you read
  • download references from databases such as the Web of Science
  • insert citations in your Word documents
  • build a bibliography in a style of your choosing at the click of a button

Workshop time

Wednesday 8 February, 14:00 – 16:00

Book your place

Book your place via the ‘Library course bookings’ link on the RISISweb portal. The bookings link is located in the ‘Actions’ tab if you’re a student.   If you’re a member of staff click on ‘Specialist Actions’ in the ‘Specialist Actions’ tab.

This workshop is part of the Student Training and Experience Programme (STEP) and counts towards the RED Award.

Unable to make this date?

Check the EndNote training webpage for other dates when this workshop is running this term.

Sally Smith, Learning Support Co-ordinator

Play fair and share!

Male students reading booksHelp make the Library work effectively by respecting everyone’s right to resources and space. Just a minute checking when your Library loans are due back or clearing a desk space for others can help make this term a success for everyone!

Here’s some simple suggestions on how to keep on top of your Library account, save time and money, help your friends and provide a pleasant and productive working environment for all:

  • Return Library items on time, even if the Library is closed – don’t forget you can also post items back to us
  • Ensure nothing is overdue and avoid fines by keeping up to date with your loans online 24/7 through your Enterprise account
  • Print a receipt when borrowing items, as a reminder of when they are due back
  • Check your University email account regularly for Library messages – standard loan items can be recalled from you before the original due date
  • Don’t leave belongings behind to reserve study areas especially in revision time – our Library space is for the benefit of everyone
  • Find a study area with a sound level that suits you – from Group Study Rooms on the 2nd and 4th floors to silent study on the 5th

Check out our ‘Using the Library’ and ‘Policies and Rules’ pages for more information.

Lucy Shott, Library User Services

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.

‘Careers on tour’: 31 January: Atos

Got five minutes on Tuesday 31 January, between 12:00 and 14:00? Call in to the University Library Ground Floor foyer and chat with the Atos team. They are brought to you by UoR Careers  who drop in to share their expertise with students most Tuesday lunchtimes.

Atos

The Atos team say, “Atos delivers unique digital journeys. More than just a multinational digital services company, we are global problem solvers – applying deep technical understanding and strategic business acumen to produce innovative answers to our clients’ commercial challenges.

We’re trusted to deliver excellence every time, and that takes 100,000 business technologists in 72 countries – each using their expertise to bring business and technology together for clients across the globe. Each year we support graduates and interns across the UK to start their own digital journey.

Our intensive 18-month graduate programmes will take you from being a student to a potential business leader or high-level technical specialist.

Or, if you’re in your penultimate year of study, and want to gain experience before you graduate, our 12-month paid internships will give you everything you need to launch your digital journey.

We have opportunities across the UK, in both business and technical schemes.”

Further information

UoR students can find further information at the Careers Centre’s My jobs online website. For more news from Careers follow UoR Careers on Twitter . (UoR Job Shop covers news of part-time or vacation work).

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator for
Isabella Masciaga, Careers Events Assistant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book EndNote Web training for easy referencing!

Student studyingThere are spaces still available on next week’s EndNote Web workshop for undergraduates and masters students.

Come along to learn how to use EndNote Web to…

  • store details of the books and articles you read
  • download references from databases such as the Web of Science
  • insert citations in your Word documents
  • build a bibliography in a style of your choosing at the click of a button

Workshop time

Wednesday 22 February, 14:00 – 15:30

Book your place

Book your place via the ‘Library course bookings’ link on the RISISweb portal. The bookings link is located in the ‘Actions’ tab if you’re a student. If you’re a member of staff click on ‘Specialist Actions’ in the ‘Specialist Actions’ tab.

This workshop is part of the Student Training and Experience Programme (STEP) and counts towards the RED Award.

Unable to make this date?

Check the EndNote training webpage for other dates when this workshop is running this term.

Sally Smith, Learning Support Co-ordinator

Law students! Learn LexisLibrary with Zoobia

hammer-719066_640Unfortunately, University of Reading Law students will be unable to meet LexisNexis Student Associate, Zoobia Abbasi in the Library on Wednesday 1 February, as previously planned. However, please do get in touch with her about future training sessions.

Zoobia provides training in LexisLibrary, an online legal database providing legal cases and journals for law students as well as access to material used by professional lawyers. She also runs legal research certification sessions for law students, much sought after by employers, and which count towards the University’s RED Award.

At her weekly drop-in sessions, students can ask questions or attend demos. Demos are usually 5-10 mins long and cover for instance: how to search journals, EU Law, commercial awareness and Halsbury’s Laws of England using LexisLibrary.

Look out for her white and black flag!

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator
for Zoobia Abbasi

 

Ground Floor Reference works move upstairs!

DariuszSankowski -phone-1052023_1920Wondering where any reference books you used to find in our Ground Floor ‘Knowledge Exchange’ might have gone? We recently integrated non-loan, ex-Ground Floor Reference items into our main collections, beside loanable books, across all subject floors according to their individual Call Number:

  • science and life sciences to the 2nd Floor (Call Numbers 000s, 500s, 600s)
  • arts and humanities to the 3rd Floor (Call Numbers 200s, 400s, 700s, 800s)
  • social sciences to the 4th Floor (Call Numbers 300s, 900s)

To find any particular title, just search for its new floor location on our Enterprise catalogue.

The Library also provides you with a range of prestigious online resources. See our Online dictionaries and encyclopedias page or search for titles in our Enterprise catalogue.

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordiator

 

‘Careers on tour’: Library: Tuesday 24 January

studentsongroundfloorUoR Careers Ambassadors will be back on Tuesday 24 January on the Ground Floor foyer of the University Library. Drop in between 12:00 – 14:00 to find out more about their services available to you, including:

For more news from Careers follow UoR Careers on Twitter . (UoR Job Shop covers news of part-time or vacation work)

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator
for 
Isabella Masciaga, Careers Events Assistant

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

Looking for your Course Collection booking?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe have made it even easier for you to get your Course Collection bookings!  No more worries about remembering Call Numbers or searching for items on the shelf! You now pick up your Course Collection bookings from the Ground Floor Information Desk.

Remember you need to collect your booking within an hour of the collection time. Items not collected within the allotted time will be returned to the shelves for others to borrow.

You can book two Course Collection items up to seven days in advance – just click on the ‘book Course Collection copy’ option on Enterprise and follow the online instructions.  You can choose from the following:

  • collect 10:00-11:00 to borrow for six hours
  • collect 16:00-17:00 to borrow until 10:00 next day
  • collect 16:00-17:00 Friday to borrow over the weekend until 10:00 Monday

Busy in the afternoon? Can’t make it to the Library by 17:00 to collect your Course Collection booking? We can arrange for your booking to be kept safely for you for a bit longer in the evening, just ask staff at the Ground Floor Information Desk for details.

Rebecca Ashley, Library User Services