Online Master’s Dissertation Fair: 1-5 June

Web page screen shotWondering how to start researching and writing your dissertation? Why not drop into the Master’s Dissertation Fair, run online by the Academic Liaison and Study Advice Teams!

Choose from a selection of different webinars at 11:00 and 14:00, Monday 1 to Friday 5 June offering advice on all elements of your dissertation planning, searching for literature, and writing. From choosing a research methodology to using reference management tools, these friendly webinars provide tips from the experts to put your dissertation on track for success.

​No need to book, just follow the links in the Master’s Dissertation Fair guide. Please connect 5-10 minutes prior to the session to ensure your access is working correctly.

More help available

Alternatively, you can also book a 1-2-1 session with a Study Adviser or Academic Liaison Librarian.

If you prefer self-paced online resources from Study Advice, try their suite of guides and video tutorials on literature searching, dissertations and major projects,

Discover key resources in your subject area in the liaison team’s guides: note the new COVID-19 tab showing additional relevant resources made available online during the lockdown period.

Study Advice and Academic Liaison Teams

‘Library recommends’ … fun productions and healthy walks

Feet in trainers and grey trousers walk on grey wooden path

Fancy treading the boards inside or out this Bank Holiday with Library online access?

Need something enjoyable to relax with this weekend? Why not take up these suggestions from Library staff, who point out that you can also use Library resources to enhance your wellbeing, not only for serious research!

Entertainment for staying in

We can all access some excellent film, theatre and television resources with our University username and passwords to take our minds away from worry. Particularly good are Box of broadcasts and Drama Online, the latter also giving us COVID-time access to National Theatre productions. Below, Sarah and Kim review their favourite productions.

One Man, Two Guvnors (National Theatre)

In this play by Richard Bean, recorded by National Theatre Live, 15 September, 2011, Tony Award-winning James Corden plays Francis Henshall in the hilarious West End and Broadway hit. I recommend this play as one of the funniest things I have watched in ages. James Corden gives the role 110% as the play descends into a chaotic, high energy farce. With various members of the audience on stage, James’s character, Francis, tries to serve dinner to his two guvnors without either catching sight of the other and with the ‘help’ of the waiting staff, who keep falling down stairs, popping up at the wrong time and generally providing a perfect spectacle of mishaps! If you enjoyed ‘The Goes Wrong Show’, you’ll love this.

Go to: https://www.dramaonlinelibrary.com/plays/one-man-two-guvnors-nt-iid-190503 Select ‘Log In’ at the top right of the page, then ‘Log in via your institution’, search for ‘University of Reading’ and log in with your University or Reading username and password.

Sarah Hatcher, Library User Services

Good Omens (BBC Radio adaptation 2014)

Good Omens is a surreal and insightful story about the end of the world, written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and with a host of supernatural and incredibly human characters. You may already be aware of the recent Amazon Prime-BBC television adaptation which aired last year (and can still be streamed online). But BBC Radio 4’s radio dramatisation starring Mark Heap and Peter Serafinowicz as Aziraphale and Crowley was broadcast a few years earlier, and is a really great adaptation – including not only some excellent performances (Heap is brilliant) and cameos (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, notably), but some great scenes from the book which didn’t make it to the television adaptation.

You can listen to the radio adaptation (and find the BBC television broadcasts too) on Box of Broadcasts – a TV and radio archive service, that includes a whole host of fantastic programmes, great for researchers and those of us wanting to catch up on favourites alike. I find listening to the radio while working from home really helps my concentration, as I’m not a fan of silence, and so I’m enjoying discovering and re-discovering programmes using Box of Broadcasts. For the next few weeks, you can also enjoy the service from across the EU, so if you’re not based in the UK at the moment, you can still listen and enjoy!

Go to: Box of Broadcasts. If you’re a new user you may need to register using your University username and password. Good Omens Episode 1 is here.

Kim Coles, Academic Liaison Librarian

Guidance for going out

A valid reason for going outside during lock-down is for health-giving exercise. Judith and Jackie advocate making use of online map resources to search out a new local experience.

Digimap

Getting bored walking the same old route every day? We all know how important it is to get regular exercise, but after a while you want a change from the routine. Jackie was fed up with her usual local walks so decided to see if she could find some alternative routes with Digimap to explore more widely without getting lost! Digimap is an online collection of maps of Great Britain, including current and old Ordnance survey maps, geology and aerial photographs.

You too can use Digimap Ordnance Survey to create and print a map of your local area – take it on your daily walk to discover new routes, whether you’re in an urban area or the countryside. If you’re feeling adventurous, print out a map from Digimap Historic to discover the area as it was in the past! Using the Roam service, search for your town or village, then zoom in. You will need to register the first time you use it but then the (lockdown) world is your oyster! Enjoy exploring!

Judith Fox, Academic Liaison Librarian/Map Librarian;
Jackie Skinner, Academic Liaison Librarian

More about Library resources

Look out for further Library information on the Library website, University Library News blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Kim Coles and Rachel Redrup, Academic Liaison Librarians

 

COVID-19: Focus on study with digital tools

Staying focused when studying and revising can be challenging at the best of times, and likely to be more so under the current conditions. If the home environment is proving distracting, why not investigate apps designed to keep you focused and working productively? Alternatively, you could save time by checking out the Study Advisers’ favourite digital tools and selected guides:

Tomato Timer

Based on the Pomodoro technique (working for short, focused periods, followed by brief rest-breaks), tomato timers aim to promote productivity while maintaining mental alertness. A multitude of these apps are available – for simplicity try Tomato Timer and, for extra features, try Pomello.

Flora and Forest

Apps like Flora and Forest help you resist distractions from your phone while you study. Simply ‘plant a seed’ in the app, and watch it grow from sapling to tree – if and only if, you don’t touch your phone. Yield to the temptation of using your phone and the sapling dies! Successful repetition results in a forest, which, if you are using the Forest app, can earn you points towards planting a real tree with the ‘Trees for the Future Scheme’.

Written? Kitten! and Focus Writer

Overcome writers block with Written? Kitten! Write 100, 200, 500 or 1000 words and get rewarded for your efforts with a picture of a cute kitty. Alternatively, try Focus Writer, which enables you to set a daily target for the number of words you write on a blank screen; you can then measure your progress against this target.

Online planners

While there are no real substitutes for having a clear time-management strategy (see our Time managment guide for help with this), some apps can help you manage your workload more efficiently. Try  Microsoft to-do, for organising tasks and managing deadlines, and Trello for monitoring your progress.  Trello can be synched with Pomello, enabling you to see how much time you’ve spent on individual tasks.

Turn off notifications and pop-ups

Minimise interruption and distraction from unwanted notifications and pop-ups by disabling them on your devices – temporarily or permanently. Do this for android and iPhone via the ‘Settings’ function on your phone, and see this brief guide on how to disable web notifications.

Blocking social media sites

Manage social media sites that vie for your attention, with the help of social media blocking apps. Specific websites can be blocked at set times of day, or the entire internet switched-off while you work. See 10 best apps to help you stay focused for a quick guide to help you decide on a blocking app that’s right for you. That said, if you’re a fan of social media, use it as a motivational aim by saving it for a reward at the end of the day.

Study Advice

Linda Schroeder, Study Adviser

COVID-19: studying at home with young children

White speech bubble to left, yellow background to rightYou may have got used to studying at home in the last few weeks, but then younger family members had homework to do too. Now that it’s the Easter holidays, how can you maintain the same momentum with your studies when you have children or younger siblings to occupy? It’s going to be more challenging, but here are some tips from your Study Advisers – who are also like you, trying to work and study at home with families.

Tip #1 Be patient. Give yourself and your family time to adjust to your new circumstances.

These are extraordinary times. Up until now, it has not been the norm for families to be together all-day, every-day. Don’t worry if things don’t run smoothly to begin with. Be patient and give yourself and your family time to adjust to the new set of circumstances you find yourself in.

Tip #2 Find a routine that works for you and your family. Resist the urge to compare yourself with others.

Studying at home with younger members of the family means that you not only have to get yourself into a routine, but you may also need to establish routines for your family, this comes with its own set of challenges – especially if children get bored easily. At this stage, you may find it tempting to compare yourself to others – especially those who appear to have things under control. Resist the urge to do this. Remember, there are no right or wrong routines.

Tip # 3 Designate study/activity spaces for children

Just as you would for yourself, designate study or activity spaces for children; get them to create timetables and set themselves goals for things they’d like to achieve, this gives them a sense of ownership which can be motivating.

Tip # 4 Make the most of technology

Make the most of technology by tapping into the plethora of available apps, games, and websites, which are both educational and entertaining (TED-Ed and Duolingo are popular in our household). Also, don’t forget, children can connect with school friends online too.

Tip # 5 Be realistic about how long things take

When planning your workload for the day or week ahead, try to be realistic about what can be done in the time available and don’t get discouraged if things take longer than anticipated.

Child with a painted faceTip # 6 Ringfence study periods – this could be when children are occupied by a partner or siblings

Set aside fixed times in the day and week for study and make a commitment to stick to them. Try to avoid interruption/distraction during these times by enlisting the support of a partner or family member to keep children occupied.

Tip # 7 Make study active!

There are likely to be many competing demands on your time, so make study periods count by making your learning active. Avoid passively reading through or copying-out course notes and other texts. Instead, do something with the material you are learning – such as applying it to solve problems and answer questions.

For individual help on managing your time and meeting deadlines contact us at studyadvice@reading.ac.uk or book a 1-2-1 appointment.

Linda Schroeder, Study Adviser

COVID-19 update: additional online resources for homeworking

Open laptopTo support students temporarily unable to access their library’s print holdings during the Covid-19 situation, several publishers have responded by temporarily making certain resources free or extending access over the next few months. We’ve been signing up to many of these offers to provide you with extra material, in addition to our usual e-resources.

To explore resources relevant to your subject, go to the new ‘COVID-19’ tab in your own subject guide. This is provided by your subject’s Academic Liaison Librarian and will be regularly updated.

Alternatively, browse a list of items already set up below:

New resources and extended access

New resources

We now have access to the following new resources (please note that some content on these resources already falls within our subscriptions):

Please log into these via the institutional login, and check your subject guide for details on how long they are active for.

Extended access

Extended access is also available for the following platforms:

  • Box of Broadcasts is now available anywhere in the EU, not just in the UK!
  • Many books we have bought through Ebook Central are providing access to more users at once for e-books which previously were limited to a few users at a time

Further information

For further information, please contact us online:

Look out for further Library service updates on the Library websiteUniversity Library News blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Sophie Dorman and Lindsay Warwick, Collections Team 

COVID-19: Preparing for take home exams?

Hand holds penciel on paperPreparing for take home exams? Follow our top 5 study tips.

Like many students, you may be experiencing a new type of exam this year: the ‘take home’ exam. In due course, you’ll be given more details about what this means for your course and we urge you to follow the advice your lecturers give you. Below are our Study Advice tips about revising and preparing for this form of assessment

Tip #1: Revise as you would normally

Right now, you should be revising as you would normally for your modules. Make a revision timetable and start going over the content. You won’t have long between having the paper and submitting your answer; the exam will be available for 23hrs in most cases but you are strongly advised only to spend the normal exam duration actually working on it. So now is the time to reflect on what you’ve learnt. It’s also important that you revise according to the type of exam you’re taking, we have videos covering all types of exams, from MCQs to essay based exams to help guide you.

Tip #2: Practice active revision

Make your revision as active as possible using a variety of techniques; make an online study group with friends, mind map the content, use post-it notes and revision cards to test key concepts. Whilst your exams will probably take a different form to previous years, you can still make effective use of past exam papers to test your understanding and application of knowledge. Above all, don’t waste time re-writing out your notes or just reading through content; these are passive techniques and are unlikely to help.

Tip #3: Be organised

It’s likely that you won’t have long to submit your answers, once you are given the paper. Make sure you create a system for organising your notes on any particular subject; you’re going to want to access the most relevant information as quickly as you can.

Tip #4: Watch for unintentional plagiarism and collusion

It’s OK to revise with others (in fact this can be an effective way of testing yours and your friend’s understanding) but once you have been issued with the paper, it’s important that you work on it alone. You will be asked to submit your work through Turnitin, which will match your work with others that have been submitted, as well as information from the internet, books and journals. Make sure it’s all your own work, as you would any other assessment.

Tip #5: Prepare for the day

You may be given a set time to sit the exam and submit your answers. Make sure you are fully prepared beforehand by:

  • Ensuring you have somewhere quiet to work, where you won’t be disturbed
  • Checking you have the technology you need: access to Bb, Turnitin and Wifi
  • Having access to all the material you need. I’d also suggest a clock to ensure you’re keeping on track
  • Ensuring you fully understand the format of the exam, how you are being asked to submit answers and have done any trial runs that have been made available to you

Good luck!

Dr Sonia Hood, FHEA
Study Advice Manager, Study Advice & Maths Support

COVID-19: 5 tips for studying @ home

Reading glasses and pens rest on an open bookStudying at home requires self-discipline, organisation and effective time management strategies. Follow our Study Advice top 5 tips to make the most of your study time at home.

Tip #1: Set up your home office

Make sure you have somewhere dedicated to studying. Set up your desk and keep your device, books, paper and stationery to hand. Try to keep the space separate from where you relax, even if it is just a corner in your bedroom. Leave it tidy, so it is more inviting to return to the next day.

Tip #2: Create a study timetable

It’s important to allocate time to study (and time to relax and do exercise). Think about when in the day you’re more effective (for most this is the morning). You might want to consider, for instance, taking a couple of hours off every afternoon to take some exercise and return to your studies in the early evening. Make sure you add in regular breaks and rewards along the way. For more on creating a timetable, watch this short video.

Tip #3: Set yourself weekly goals

It’s important to know what you hope to achieve each week – especially if you are working on a project like a dissertation or revising for exams. Goals help to ensure we stay on track but also help to motivate us to keep going and give us that sense of achievement. Work backwards from your deadlines to determine where you want to be at the end of each week. If you have a shorter deadline (like an assignment to write in a week), instead set yourself some daily goals. This video will help you do this.

Tip #4: Work with others

During these times, it’s important to continue to connect with others. Keep in touch with peers and motivate each other. Arrange daily catch-ups, virtual coffee chats or perhaps some revision groups, where you can test each other’s understanding. Do share your study goals too, as you are more likely to strive to meet them once you’ve declared them.

Tip #5: Use the advice and support available

It might feel that you’re on your own, but all the central services are still running.

Make the most of the support and expertise on offer and ensure you get the grades you deserve.

Dr Sonia Hood, FHEA
Study Advice Manager, Study Advice & Maths Support

COVID-19 update: Library services move fully online

Silvery-gold clad University of Reading Library buildings in distance, surrounded by green trees, green grass in foregroundIn line with the University’s move to online teaching, the University Library moved services fully online with effect from Monday 23 March 2020.  Please be assured that we will continue to provide you with our services.  We will ensure that all online resources and additional online help are available to you during the current, unprecedented public health situation.

Using Library online services

A significant proportion of our resources are already available online. There will be no change to this service and everything that you previously used will continue to be available. A simple way to find existing and new resources in your subject is to check our online subject guides: the new COVID-19 tab lists extra resources provided to UoR during the lockdown period.

Online resources

Undergraduate and post-graduate taught course students: you can still access UoR online reading lists directly and via Blackboard. Many of the items on your reading lists are accessible online, with some lists fully available online.

For your research, you can still access e-resources through the Library website, to find our extensive collection of e-books, e-journals and databases. The following tools will help you:

Online Library help and assistance

All Library staff are still available to help and assist with your studies and research.

Library materials currently on loan

Whilst the Library building remains closed the printed book collection will not be available.  If you currently have books on loan that are due back do not worry!  We will automatically renew them for you so that you do not get fined.  And if you incur any fines during this period of online working you will not be charged.  Books that you currently have on loan will not be recalled and you will not be expected to return them whilst the building is closed.  If you want to place a reservation (hold) on a book you can continue to do so and we will seek to satisfy your request.  For loan and general enquiries, please email library@reading.ac.uk

Interlibrary loans

You can still request Inter-Llibrary Loans in the usual manner, completing the online request form.  If you currently have Inter-Library Loans (books) from another library do not worry, we will arrange for the return date to be extended for you.  For Inter-Library Loan enquiries, please email ill@reading.ac.uk.

Other enquiries

If you have any other enquiries or require any additional support, please email library@reading.ac.uk.

Look out for further Library service updates on the Library websiteUniversity Library News blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Stuart Hunt, Director

Get Library help with exams and dissertations

figures at table beween book shelvesThis time of year, we know many of you are busy preparing for exams or working on those dissertations. Why not take a moment to check out the advice and support that we have on offer; it could save you time in the long run!

Our Study Advisers have a series of video tutorials and study guides providing essential advice on effective revision techniques or dissertation writing. Or why not visit us on the Ground Floor of the Library and collect your free year planner to help you plan your revision, or those dissertation and major projects

Your Academic Liaison Librarian can point you towards the best sources in your subject to find good quality literature supporting your work. Take a look at the guides they have created to your subject resources.

We can also offer you individual advice:

Find out more on our Library website or come along to our Study Advice Desk on the Ground Floor of the Library and find out how we can support you.

Sonia Hood, Study Advice Manager and Rachel Redrup, Academic Liaison Librarian

New gender studies guide celebrates ‘Astor 100’

Gender studies is an area of research which can cover a wide range of academic disciplines. In celebration of Astor 100, marking 100 years since Nancy Astor became the first woman to take her seat in British Parliament, the Library has introduced a new online guide to support research into gender-related topics. The guide takes the same format as our subject guides but focuses on the range of materials available from the Library and Special Collections relating to gender studies. It has been created to help you find some of the key resources the Library can provide in this area, as well as point you towards other useful online resources, libraries and archives.

We’d love to hear your feedback on our new guide, so let us know what you think!

Suggest more diverse Library resources

You can also help us to diversify the Library’s collections by putting forward your suggestions for Library materials to help support a more diverse curriculum. All you need to do is complete our Diversify our collections suggestion form to suggest a book, DVD, topic or author for purchase in an area you feel is currently underrepresented in our Library collections. We’ll do the rest!

If you would like to suggest other items for the Library, please complete our regular book suggestion form.

Tim Chapman, Library Diversity & Inclusion Group

Library open following major refurbishment

The University Library is now open following its major refurbishment. Over £40 million has been invested into improving key features and facilities, including:

  • increased study space, including space to meet growing demand for group study.
  • new automated service to make borrowing and returning books quicker and easier (freeing up librarians’ time for helping students).
  • print hubs on Ground Floor and floors 1-4.
  • water fountains on floors 1-4.
  • expanded Library café, including new outdoor dining area.
  • new larger cycle sheds.
  • improved impact on the environment, with energy usage lowered by 40% and carbon emissions cut by 30%.
Girl using automatic book borrowing machine

Borrow at contactless Self-Service Points; return at the new book sorter machine.

Minor finishing works will continue to take place as and when needed over the coming weeks. Any major work will take place outside typical user hours.

Study space on campus

The Library now houses the largest collection of study spaces on campus. There are still plenty of other places on campus to go for studying – details of these can be found on the Study Space Across Campus Essentials page.

Those returning to campus may note that the URS Building is being used for teaching this term and is no longer used as Library study space.

Where to get help

Study Advice and Maths Support Desk

There are plenty of places within the Library you can get help.

  • For general enquiries, including help with your Library account or finding your way around, please use the Welcome Desk (Ground Floor).
  • For expert advice on a range of study skills and resources in your subject area, please use the Study Advice and Maths Support Desk (Ground Floor).
  • For IT enquiries, please visit the IT Service Desk (1st Floor).

Maps of each floor are also available – please take a look to see exactly where specific features are located within the building

 

Library refurbishment: return to a single Library building

Chairs in front of a long enquiry counter where on the other sides a librarian sits talking on phone. Two people are talking across the far end of the counter.

Come to the Library building Welcome Desk where Library staff have relocated to assess all your library-related queries!

Library refurbishment has reached the significant point where services and study space return to one single building! Most services are already up and running in the Library building, with our contractors moving study space furniture and PCs back from the Library@URS building over the next days. The Library@URS building is now closed, as of 2 July 2019.

Services in the Library building

Books on shelves to left of table and chairs with packing crates sticked to right.

Overnight loan books moved back to the Library building to form Short Loan (formerly Course Collection) on the Ground Floor. You also collect ‘Holds’ here now.

Services now returned to the Library building include Library User Services’ Ground Floor Welcome Desk; the Short Loan collection of overnight loan material (formerly Course Collection); and the Holds shelf where you can collect requested material. Come to the Library building once more to receive Study Advice and Maths Support, or help from your subject’s Liaison Librarians.

Small beared-person behind counter helps long-haired person sitting on a stool infront of him.

Receive IT help in person at the IT Service Desk on the Library’s 1st Floor!

The IT Service Desk is now restablished on the 1st Floor, where more and more PCs will arrive to create an area for individual and group PC study, with two teaching rooms.

People sit on seats outside large building with glass front and metalic brown cladding.

Try out communal benches for groups or single seats for individual reading outside the Library Café this summer!

You may already know the well-established Library Café, but do try out the smart, new outside seating which includes communal benches for groups, and single seats for individual reading.

Coming to the Library building soon!

Quiet and group study area seating is due to return to the 3rd and 4th Floors over the next weeks. (We anticipate refurbishment of the 2nd Floor to be completed in time to reopen in August.)

View of construction site from above,. One shelter is roofed, another has beams raised above a concrete pad.

New cycle shelters are under construction, in line with the University’s environmental policies.

Work continues in several areas, including on new cycle shelters – which can be viewed from the new lift stairs – so note that there may still sometimes be noise and disruption in the Library building. Although the Library@URS is closing, a variety of alternative study space options remain across campus.

Further information

Library refurbishment forms part of the University’s ambitious 2026: Transform capital investment programme, which focuses on improving campus facilities and supporting the student experience by the University’s 100th anniversary of its charter.

To keep up to date with the latest Library refurbishment news, please visit the Library refurbishment webpage and look out for posts on this Library blog.

Rachel Redrup for University Communications