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 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 will be moving to a fully online service 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.

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

Library research guide for LGBT+ related topics

Rainbow Logo create for LGBT+ history monthLGBT+ Guide

LGBT+ is an area of research which can cover a wide range of academic disciplines.  Continuing our celebration of February’s LGBT+ History Month, the Library would like to highlight the online guide to support research into LGBT+-related topics.

Taking the same format as our subject guides this guide focusses on the range of materials available from the Library and Special Collections relating to LGBT+ topics.

It is one of a series of cross-disciplinary research guides we have developed to support research in areas such as disability and inclusion, gender, and race and ethnicity (forthcoming).

It has been created, in consultation with staff and student representatives, 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 the guide, so let us know what you think!

Suggest resources to help diversify our collections

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.

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

You can see all the Diversity fund titles purchased in current and previous academic years on our dedicated Library Diversity fund reading lists.

Tim Chapman, Academic Liaison Team Manager

Welcome new students! Tour, borrow and craft!

Hands hold our map infront of library entrance gatesWe’re really excited to welcome all new students starting this week, with various events to help you get to know your Library.

  • Why not take a self-guided tour of the Library? Grab a ‘Your Library Tour’ map from the Library Welcome Desk on the Ground Floor of the Library and explore the building.
  • Brown paper bag with a question mark on it, and 3 origami folded bookmarks next to the bag.Come and chat with our friendly staff at the Induction Marketplace on Wednesday 15 January 13:00-17:00.
  • You are all welcome to attend a Library Leisure Time event, Friday 17 January 13:00-15:00.
    • Did you know that we have fiction too besides your course text books at the Library? Not sure which to choose? Come along to borrow one of our lucky-dip print books!
    • Take a moment to relax by crafting your own origami bookmark with us!

For more information and help with Library resources ask at the Welcome Desk or have a look at our YouTube channel.  Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for library updates.

Ruth Ng & Karen Drury, Academic Liaison Librarians

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

Cite it right and avoid unintentional plagiarism

You 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 – it can 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:

If you’re a Part 1 undergraduate and have enrolled on Study Smart, you could also go back over the relevant guidance in Week 1.

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 and Mendeley work with Word to create citations and bibliographies for you.

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 Academic 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!

 

Download Desktop EndNote free to your own computer

Open laptopA change to the licence for EndNote means that it is now possible to download the full Desktop EndNote to your own computer saving you nearly £100. Just follow these steps:

  1. Go to the IT Self-Service Portal
  2. Select Place a Request
  3. Select User Support
  4. Finally select Software – EndNote
  5. Read and accept the terms and conditions

You will be sent an email containing a download link and product key.

Note that under the terms of the licence if you leave the University you must remove EndNote from your computer.

To find out more about this software and how to use it see our EndNote guide.

Jackie Skinner
Academic Liaison Librarian

 

Head upstairs for more Library study space

Enjoy the full range of study spaces the Library has to offer. Following a multi-million pound refurbishment we now provide around 1,500 study spaces, 200 more than we had before. Be sure to investigate all five floors and three types of study space to find what suits you best. Our contemporary, new environment is very popular so do check out the upper floors for places others may not have reached yet!

Study your way in the Library

See our study space video or plans of each floor and you will find that study space has been arranged into three different types:

Group study – where talking is required
To discuss your work in groups, or if you concentrate best with background noise, head to the front of the 4th or 2nd Floors, the back of the Ground Floor, or the 1st Floor PC area for a choice of individual rooms, group pods, diner-like seating or long tables. There are eight bookable group study rooms on the 1st Floor.

Individual, quiet study
To work quietly by yourself, use an individual desk by the windows around the books on the 4th, 3rd and 2nd Floors, or in Short Loan on the Ground Floor.

Silent study
To work in silence choose from individual comfy chairs or a desk in one of our enclosed study rooms on the 5th Floor.

Study space across campus

Whilst the Library houses the largest single collection of study spaces on campus, at busy times you may wish to use other study areas. The Study Space Across Campus Essentials page includes both RUSU Studies, the ‘Free Room Finder’ showing which teaching rooms students can use, and the Study Space Map listing other study areas.

Rachel Redrup
Academic Liaison Librarian

Updates to Digimap

Over the summer, Digimap have produced a number of improvements which will help compare and combine the different services, and increase interoperability with other mapping applications.

Web Mapping Services

A new button gives access to ‘Web Services’.  This will allow you to export Digimap to other applications like ArcGIS or QGIS, without having to store the data locally. The data can be used as backdrop mapping and there are no size restrictions.  You can also use this function to combine different Digimap services eg Aerial and OS.  Transparency sliders allow you to adjust the visibility of each component.

New overlays in Digimap Ordnance Survey

New overlays available include:

  • Postcodes – based on Codepoint with polygons. Contains the full hierarchy
  • Contours and spot heights – from Terrain50 and Terrain5 datasets
  • Points of interest – point dataset of features. Nine groups, including Retail, Transport and manufacturing and Production

Photographs

Photo of Library on OS Digimap

Include photographs on a Digimap base

Upload your own photographs to a Digimap base! Simply click on the Camera icon on the Drawing Tools panel.  Once added it is treated as a drawing feature and can be moved or resized.

Printing

You can now request an A5 sized print – better for fitting into an essay or report

Search results

Search results are now grouped by type – places, roads, coordinates etc, and shown in different tabs

If you have questions about using Digimap, contact Judith Fox –  j.a.fox@reading.ac.uk

Judith Fox, Map Librarian

Support from your Library beyond Welcome Week

Hands hold our map infront of library entrance gates

Take a tiny self-guided tour to find out where everything is on the Library’s newly refurbished Ground and 1st Floors.

Welcome Week may now be over but there is still plenty of support available, online and in person, to help you make the most of the Library.

Library tours

Library tours continue to run throughout week 1 at 11:00, 12:00 and 14:00 each day. You can book onto a tour on RISIS, or just turn up five minutes before the start time.

If you don’t have time for an escorted tour, you can also pick up a self-guided tour in the Library. This will allow you to look around the Library at your own pace, guiding you through all the information you’ll need to make full use of the services and facilities.

You can also take a look at our YouTube channel for quick videos on how to use the Library such as finding a book, using the self-service points and how to print, scan and copy.

Who can you ask for help?

Academic Liaison librarians

There is a dedicated academic liaison librarian for every subject at the University. Your liaison librarian can support your studies by:

• showing you how to use information resources effectively – your librarian can offer training sessions for your School/Department and online library guides for your subject
• showing you how to save time by making the most of all our Library services
• giving you individual help with research – your librarian can offer in depth one-to-one help in finding information, including identifying the most relevant e-resources for you to use

Contact your academic liaison librarian to arrange a meeting.

Pick up a free year planner, as well as information, study and maths advice, from the Study Advice Desk!

Study Advice and Maths Support Desk

The Study Advice and Maths Support Desk is staffed 10:00-16:00 every weekday. You can drop in here with quick queries for Study Advice, Maths Support and Academic Liaison Librarians or to book longer appointments with staff from any of these teams. You can also pick up a free Study Advice year planner, perfect for helping you organise your studies for the coming year.

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.

Ask general enquiries at the Welcome Desk.

Welcome Desk

You can ask at the Welcome Desk for help with most general enquiries including:

  • finding your way around
  • your Library account and membership
  • loans, renewals and holds
  • inter-library loans

Our friendly staff will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

Further information

To keep up to date with the latest Library news, visit this Library blog and our social media channels.

Katie Winter, Academic Liaison Support Librarian

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