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 are also guides 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 should you do?

You may find you have a key piece of information, but do not have all the details you need for your bibliography. If you have some details (for instance, author, title, journal title, date) it may be possible to find the complete reference.

For a journal article, look at 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.

Give your dissertation an edge by including the most up-to-date information you can

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.

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. 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 printing and binding service.

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 Helen Hathaway, Head of Academic Liaison and Support and Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

Systems upgrade 15-19 August – some services unavailable

Sam Tyler grins whilst holding travel mug up to the camera

Systems Manager, Sam Tyler, will be celebrating with a bevy in a branded Library travel mug once the new Library systems server is installed in August

This summer we are moving our Library Management System to a new server to give us a more robust, reliable system. During this switch, 15-19 August, there will be some disruption to Library services. The Library will still be open but there are a few things you won’t be able to do.

You won’t…

  • Be able to see the current location of an item. So you won’t be able to tell if it has been borrowed. However, you will still be able to see the Call Number, so you can always check the shelf anyway as it might be there, and at the same time browse other books on the same topic.
  • Be able to access your online Library account to renew your loans or pay fines.
  • Get any email reminders of when your books are due. So have a quick check before the 15th in case any of them need returning or renewing.
  • Be able to request items from Closed Access or the Off-site Store.
  • Be able to register with the Library. This includes SCONUL Access registrations.

You will…

  • Still be able to search the Library catalogue, Enterprise.
  • Still have access to all our online resources – so any e-books or e-journals you find on the catalogue will still be available via the ‘Click here to access’ links.
  • Be able to borrow, return and renew items in the Library.
  • Be able to ask any questions at Library Information Desks.
  • Be able to pay fines in person in the Library.

Sam Tyler, Library Systems Manager

Digimap access problems

MapWe are currently experiencing problems logging into the Digimap service. We are investigating the cause and will post an update as soon as possible.

Apologies for the inconvenience this will cause.

Judith Fox, Map Librarian

2nd Floor Group Study Area and Information Desk closed

IMG_2044 smallThe 2nd Floor Group Study Area and Information Desk have been closed temporarily whilst hoarding is constructed around the builders’ working space. It is still possible to access the 2nd Floor from the main stairs, to access all the stock, and to use the PCs. For printing/copying/scanning please use a machine on another floor. We plan to re-open this area early next week.

Whilst this location is closed please use the Group Study Area on the 4th Floor. If you need any assistance, pop up to the 3rd or 4th Floor Information Desks where staff will be happy to help.

For more information about the project, see our Library Refurbishment Project webpage or contact the Library’s Facilities Manager, Robin Hunter.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager
for Robin Hunter, Facilities Manager

Library Knowledge Exchange closed

Image of refurbished University Library surrounded by seating, trees and hedges.

Architect’s impression of the refurbished University Library

From 25 July, the Library’s Ground Floor Knowledge Exchange group discussion area will be closed as part our Refurbishment Project. There are many other group study rooms available on the Ground, 2nd and 4th Floors.

For more information about the project, see our Library Refurbishment Project webpage or contact the Library’s Facilities Manager, Robin Hunter.

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator
for Robin Hunter, Facilities Manager

1st Floor rooms closed during refurbishment

Image of refurbished University Library surrounded by seating, trees and hedges.

Revised impression of the refurbished University Library. The new entrance and café looks out onto pleasant landscaping. Silver-grey cladding, with regency-gold coloured highlights, increases energy efficiency, weather proofing, and reduces solar glare to the front study spaces

From today, some rooms on the Library’s 1st Floor will be closed to users during the current phase of our Refurbishment Project. This includes two group study rooms (111 and 110) and two PC rooms (109 and 105). However, there are many other group study rooms available on the Ground, 2nd and 4th Floors and other PC rooms elsewhere on the 1st Floor.

For more information about the project, see our Library Refurbishment Project webpage or contact the Library’s Facilities Manager, Robin Hunter.

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator
for Robin Hunter, Facilities Manager

Change to Web of Science default search coverage

There has been a change to the configuration of Web of Science, which means the default setting is to search the ‘Web of Science Core Collection’ and not the full range of databases available on the site. This change has been made to avoid users missing out on enhancements that are specific to the Core Collection, such as citation searching and email alerts from saved searches. However, you may miss useful content from other databases such as BIOSIS (biological sciences), FSTA (food and nutrition) and MEDLINE (biomedical sciences).

If you access Web of Science directly from a search engine, and you want to revert to searching all content, just select ‘All Databases’ from the drop-down list to the right of ‘Web of Science™ Core Collection’:

Web of Science database selection drop down list

It is possible to configure your own options for using Web of Science, including the default database coverage. See this brief video for guidance.

If you follow a link to Web of Science from the Library website you won’t need to do a thing, as we’ve configured the link to search across all databases. There is a separate link to the Core Collection if you wish to explore some of the more advanced features (such as integration with JCR, funding filters, OA filters).

If you have any questions about searching Web of Science, or any of the databases available within it, please contact your subject liaison librarian.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager

Make the most of our map resources – Infotip

Did 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?

Geographical cover

Field mapsWe 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, showing how the landscape has changed.

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

Types of map

Field and reference mapsYou 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.

roam TowerMost of the map collection is non-loan, but a set of folded ‘Field maps’, are available for loan on the 2nd Floor.  They can be borrowed for a standard loan period, and they include British Landranger, Explorer and geology maps, and a selection of foreign (mostly European) road maps and city plans.

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 are of increasing importance. We have access to  Digimap (Ordnance Survey), Historic Digimap, Environment Digimap and Geology Digimap, which provides access to contemporary and old Ordnance Survey mapping of Great Britain, as well as land cover mapping from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and geology mapping from the  British Geological Survey (BGS). 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

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 and can normally be found on the 2nd Floor.  Alternatively you can email me for an appointment.

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.

Disruption to Campus card payments during upgrade

The University is making major improvements to the cashless payment system in the coming days.  Once the upgrade is complete it will be much easier to manage your Campus card account with one online balance to pay for printing, photocopying, Library fines and your lunch!

Whilst work is carried out to make these improvements the Campus card payment system will be unavailable.

From Wednesday 20 July at 17:00 until 17:00 on Monday 1 August it will not be possible to:

  • Top-up online via the Campus card portal
  • Top-up using cash at the kiosk in the Library
  • Make any payments using your Campus card
  • Pay Library fines online via the Campus card portal

If you have any problems printing or photocopying during the upgrade please go to the IT help desk on the 1st floor of the Library.

It will still be possible to pay Library fines using cash or debit/credit cards in person at the Ground floor Information Desk or by calling 0118 378 8770 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Please email campuscard@reading.ac.uk with any questions.

Rebecca Ashley, Library User Services

Library refurb: preparatory work begins 12 July

Image of refurbished University Library surrounded by seating, trees and hedges.

The refurbished University Library entrance and café will look out onto pleasant landscaping. Silver-grey building cladding, with regency-gold coloured highlights will increase energy efficiency, weather proofing, and reduce solar glare to the front study spaces

We’re getting ready for the latest phase of our significant Library refurbishment! Work taking place over the next few weeks (from Tuesday 12 July 2016) will mostly focus on getting the site prepared for large-scale works happening later this summer. Please be aware that there may be bursts of noisy work during this period. The noisiest work will be restricted to the morning before 10:00. However, your access to the Library, its resources and its staff will be maintained throughout.

Task 1 (from 12 July): The first task is to set up the contractors’ site behind the Library, incorporating the lawn and gardens. You will still be able to enter the Library at the usual front entrance. However, behind the Library the access road will be closed off for the duration of the works and disabled parking bays will be available elsewhere. There are three disabled parking bays in Cedars Hotel Car Park (Car Park 15) and one space opposite the Santander Bank.

Task 2 (from 18 July): Protective hoardings will be erected outside the Library building. More hoardings will go up inside the Library on all floors around the glass-enclosed, south stairs  in preparation for construction of new lifts in this area.  Information Desks may be relocated on the 2nd and 4th Floors but access to all Library stock will be unaffected. CaféLibro service also continues unaffected.

Task 3 (from 25 July): Work will begin on south staircase, which may be noisy at times. You will need to start using bike racks under the overhang of the URS building as those around the Library will be temporarily relocated.

A PowerPoint presentation illustrating each area of work can be downloaded here. This information as a table is here.

Postgraduate students in particular have been alerted to alternative quiet study space on campus they can use this summer, mainly in their own departments.

For more information about the project, see our Library Refurbishment Project webpage or for day-to-day information, contact the Library’s Facilities Manager, Robin Hunter.

Rachel Redup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator



Two new exhibitions to enjoy!

Art Nouveau-style bookplate of the clergyman Rev. Christie Chetwynd The Special Collections team have put together a couple of new exhibitions featuring materials in the University’s collections.

In the glass cabinets on the Ground Floor of the Library is an exhibition featuring marks of ownership in rare books. Rare books often contain a variety of features which make them important and interesting historical artefacts beyond their texts. This exhibition invites the viewer to explore the private relationship between readers and their books, and the variety of different ways in which book owners (both famous and long forgotten) from the seventeenth to the twentieth century have indicated ownership of their books through the use of bookplates, decorated bindings, inscriptions and annotations. Catch this display until 30 September.

On display at the Special Collections Service until 16 September is a collection of materials relating to the University’s 90th anniversary. The exhibition looks back to the University’s origins as a technical college for the people of Reading, and its journey towards independence. Find out about the men and women from 90 years of Reading’s history who made the University what it is today. The display features items from the University’s own archive, including the Royal Charter itself.

Fiona Melhuish, UMASCS Librarian


Web of Science – not just for scientists! – info tip

NetworkNeed to search for articles on a topic for your essay or assignment or check what a specific author has written? Web of Science (WoS) is a good place to start.

This database covers all subjects from art to zoology and includes articles from a wide range of journal titles and conference papers. It gives access to basic information about them, such as the author(s) name(s), title of paper, name of journal it was published in, year, volume number, page numbers and a summary or abstract of the paper. It MAY or MAY NOT give access to the full article.

Go to the Library’s a-z list of databases and select Web of Science from the alphabetical list. If you are on campus, select the “IP Authentication” option to log in. Off-campus, log in with your University username and password via an Institutional login.

The examples below use the ‘All databases’ search option. To see a list of all the databases included in the Web of Science, or to select a specific one, click on the orange arrow next to ‘All Databases’.

How can I…?

  1. Look for information about a topic

For example, type london 2012 olympic games in the search box

In your search results click on the title of one of the references to get more information including a summary or abstract.

WoS search result

And here it is!

WoS search results 2

  1. Find review articles

Review articles survey current research and have lots of references to other articles for you to follow up.

wos doctype

  • type your subject words in the search box
  • once viewing your results look for the Document Type section of the Refine Results panel on the left of the screen and select Review from the list and click on the Refine button
  1. Find the full text of the article

Each reference in the results will have a blue Search for Item at Reading button underneath it  Search for item at Reading button. This will link to the electronic version if we have access to it (we do not have all the journals covered by this database) and if we don’t, to the library catalogue for you to check whether we have a print version.

See our useful webpage on finding journal articles.

Getting help

Our Web of Science page provides further information about access, as well as basic and advanced guides. See our guide to effective database searching for help in constructing a subject search. Use the Help tab within WoS to get more tips for getting the most out of this database.

Alternatively, contact your subject liaison librarian for help using the database.

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

This tip was updated by Judith Fox, Liaison Librarian for Meteorology.

June 2016