Planning your revision – info tip

Boy reading in sunshineEaster’s coming up fast, and you’re probably still completing assignments for the end of term. Exams might still seem a long way off now but they’ll be here before you know it. It’s a good time to start thinking about your revision – and the Library and Study Advice are here to help.

Working out a schedule

It’s important to have a plan, to make sure you have time to cover all the topics you need to. Avoid making your revision plan too detailed and prescriptive though – you will need to build in time for relaxation, exercise – and the unexpected!

Our Guide on preparing for exams includes tips for planning your revision, including more on how to work out your schedule. We also have a Study Seminar on this topic: Wed 8 March 2017, 2-3 in Palmer 105 – no need to book. And why not pick up a free year planner from the Study Advice office? They’re perfect for making your revision plan!

Finding materials for revision

You will probably start by reading through your lecture notes, and then looking at texts on your reading list. The Library has guidance on finding different types of publication as well as videos that will help you to get the most out of the Library.

You should also check the subject resources and guidance for information resources in your topic – much more reliable than ‘just Googling it’. And remember that, whether you’re revising on or off campus, our ebooks and ejournals are accessible 24/7.

Where will you revise?

With the current refurbishment continuing in the Library, you might be concerned about noise. But don’t worry – the University are making an alternative study space available in the URS building (the ‘Lego’ building, next-door to the Library). Study pods and PCs will still be available in this space and opening hours will remain the same, so there’ll be plenty of options for studying. You can also use the sleeping studentFree Room Finder to find classrooms that are not currently in use if you want an alternative place to revise on campus. Or see the list of alternative study spaces.

Wherever you revise, remember to take breaks. We may be open 24 hours but that doesn’t mean you have to work through the night – your brain needs rest and time for processing information.

Making your revision effective

If you can find six minutes in your busy schedule, you have enough time to watch our video tutorial on Effective revision – and save yourself a lot of wasted time. Our guide on preparing for exams also has tips on revision and memory techniques. If you’re taking exams in the UK for the first time, have a look at our information on assessment by examination in UK higher education to give you a clearer idea of how they may differ from what you have done in the past.

Remember that the purpose of revision is not to memorise everything you can find about the subject, but to prepare yourself to answer exam questions. Check the Past Paper archive on the Exams Office website to find examples of questions for your modules which you can use to write practice answers – to time and by hand, ideally. We have a Study Seminar on this topic: Wed 15 March 2017, 2-3 in Palmer 105 – no need to book. And have a look at our video tutorials on exams for guidance on the best way to prepare for different kinds of exams.

 

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

This tip was written by Kim Shahabudin, Michelle Reid, Sonia Hood and Erika Delbecque (Study Advice team).

What are the Study Advisers up to? (March 2017)

This post is the first in a planned series of regular updates and timely tips from the Study Advice team. For more on any topic, see our website or contact us at studyadvice@reading.ac.uk.

Thinking about dissertations?

With undergraduates hopefully reaching the final stages of their dissertations and Masters students starting to embark upon theirs, it’s a good time to remind you of our guides and video tutorials to help make dissertations and longer research projects more successful. These include:

Students are also welcome to book one-to-one appointments with us for more individual advice on the process of planning, researching and writing their dissertations (all contact details on our website). Study Advice will be available during Easter and Summer vacations when many people stay on campus to work on their projects. So for dissertation advice and support, do come our way!

New team member

Erika Delbecque has joined the Study Advice Team as a Part-Time Study Adviser. She is no stranger to the University of Reading having previously worked at the University Library as a Trainee Liaison Librarian, and will continue to work as a Part-Time Librarian at the University’s Museums and Special Collections Services alongside her new role.

Her first degree is in English and Dutch Literature, and she has gained postgraduate qualifications in Education and in Librarianship. Erika is particularly interested in digital literacies and the impact of technology on student learning, innovative pedagogical practices, and in supporting international students.

Making exam revision more effective

Spring is on its way and so too are university exams. With this in mind, it’s worth remembering Study Advice resources to help with exam revision. We have a range of information in our study guide and a suite of video tutorials. These cover topics including:

Tutors are welcome to link to any of these resources in revision sessions.

We also have two seminars on exams, both in Palmer 105 from 2-3:

  • Wed 8 March: Revising for Exams
  • Wed 15 March: Writing for Exams

You don’t need to book for these informal workshops; just turn up. In addition, students can book a one-to-one appointment with a Study Adviser to discuss revision plans and strategies on an individual basis.

E-books: access key texts wherever you are! – info tip

A tablet containing an electronic book on a bookshelf with printed books.

Are all the print copies of the book you need to read out on loan? Have you reached the limit on the number of books you can borrow at any one time from the Library but you still need to read more? Is it cold and raining or you just don’t want to leave your room? No problem – the Library may have an e-book! E-books are available to you 24/7 from any device which is connected to the internet so are great when you’re off-campus. If you haven’t used e-books before, or want to make sure you’re getting the best experience, have a look at our LibGuide on e-books.

Finding e-books

You can find e-books using either Enterprise or Summon. Enter your search terms into the search box, then refine your results. On Enterprise you will need to choose the Online and Book filters on the left-hand side; on Summon you can select the Publication Type E-book from the filters on the left-hand side. See the Library’s guide on Summon for tips on how to make your results even more specific to what you need.

Accessing e-books

It’s important to know that our e-books are not all available on the same platform. Take a look at the Library’s page on e-books for a list of the different available platforms and more information on what they will let you do.

Woman using laptopAlthough all our e-books can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, most e-book platforms do not automatically re-format the size of the text to fit your device. For the best viewing experience we would recommend accessing our e-books from a PC or laptop computer.

Most of our e-books use online e-reader software which is integrated into the platform, so you should not need to download any additional software. For some e-books you will need to download the relevant chapters in PDF format to view them. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read these.

Some of our e-books can be downloaded in full, but you may be prompted to install Adobe Digital Editions software to view them on your device. This software is different to Adobe Acrobat.

How can e-books help you to study smarter?

E-books have features which you can use to help you in your studies. For instance, you can search the text electronically to find key words or phrases. You can easily print off specific pages from most e-books, saving you the trouble of photocopying (though remember that rules about Copyright and the amount you can copy still apply). You can also annotate the e-book, writing your own notes which you can print or export. Don’t try doing this on a paper Library book!

If you’re using reference management software like EndNote, you may be able to directly export the details you will need for your citations. Do remember to use details for the e-book version, as page numbers may not be the same as in the print version. For more information on referencing, see our Citing References guide, or the Academic Integrity Toolkit.

ebookWhy can’t I access this e-book?

Some platforms, such as MyiLibrary and EBSCOhost only allow an e-book to be viewed by one or sometimes three people at a time. If you get a message saying the e-book is already in use, take a quick break and try accessing it again after a few minutes.

Any problems?

If you’d like more help on how to find and use e-books effectively, get in touch with your Liaison Librarian. If you’re experiencing technical difficulties accessing e-books, please contact the E-resources Team via the Problem Report Form.

 

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

This tip was written by Rachael Scott, Content Manager and Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

Challenge yourself to maximise your library and study skills in Week 6 – info tip

Student studyingWant to make sure you get the best possible marks by working smarter not harder? Week 6 is the perfect time to review and develop the skills you need to succeed and work effectively in your studies. The Library and Study Advice teams have guides and videos that will help you achieve just this. And why not take one of our challenges and learn a new skill that will make your studying more successful and help you to find excellent resources?

What do you need to develop?

Everyone starts from a different place and progresses through their studies at a different pace, so you will need to consider what your own needs are and how they are best met, but the suggestions below should have something for you.

Ten challenges to try something new

  1. Pick up a free year planner from Study Advice and get control over your deadlines.
  2. Learn how to access and use an e-book.
  3. Sign up to Evernote or Remember the Milk to keep yourself organised.
  4. Use Summon to find a newspaper article or book review that’s related to your subject.
  5. Try a new learning technique – video or record yourself talking for three minutes on a topic from your course.
  6. Set up an EndNote Web account to store your references.
  7. Start a reading diary to record your reflections on what you’ve read (use a paper notebook or set up a private blog).
  8. Find a map that will help with your subject – they’re not just for Geographers!
  9. Watch a video tutorial on an aspect of study that you need to develop.
  10. And finally, take a break from studying and use Enterprise to find and borrow a film on DVD – we’ve lots to choose from.

Alarm clock“I don’t have time to develop my skills!”

It can be hard to develop new skills when you’re already busy using the old ones – but it’s worth doing to save lots of time in the future. If you don’t have much time, try these quick ideas:

If you’ve got 5 minutes…

If you’ve got 10 minutes…

  • Record yourself recapping the main points of your last lecture – it’s more effective than rewriting your notes.
  • Open an EndNote Web account to manage your references, then bookmark our guides and training sessions to find out how to use it.

If you’ve got 30 minutes…

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, Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Sally Smith, Liaison Librarian.

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.