Starting your dissertation? Follow our top 5 study tips

So, you may have just finished your exams but now you have to turn your attention to your dissertation. Where do you begin and how can you ensure you stay on track? Below are our Study Advice and Library tips to help you get started and stay focused.  

Tip #1: Have a plan 

Having a plan not only helps you to stay on track but weekly goals keep you motivated. Work backwards from your hand in date and remember to build in extra time for proof reading and final touches. Our videos on managing your time offer some tips to get you started.  

Tip #2: Start with something small 

To help you get going, start with a task that you can get done easily. This might be something simple, like setting up a word template or printing off a couple of key articles. Being able to complete one task can give you a sense of achievement and motivate you to tackle more challenging ones. 

Tip #3: Think about the information that you need… 

….and how to access it! If you are carrying out a literature review, or analysing documents or literature, make sure that you are familiar with the key online resources in your subject area. You can find out more about what’s available to you, as well as contact details for your Academic Liaison Librarian, on your Library subject guide 

Tip #4: Think more, read less 

It’s important that you think critically about you’re reading. This requires you to see the links between various theories and consider what they mean for your research question. So, when taking notes remember to not only record a summary of your reading but more importantly note what you think about what you have read. This will help you when you come to write up. Our video on critical note taking offers some advice on this. 

Tip #5: Attend a webinar 

The Library and Study Advice teams are running a series of webinars for Masters students working on their dissertations. The Masters Dissertation Fair is back for another year, covering a range of topics from selecting a reference management tool, to structuring your literature review.   


Webinars will run online every day from Monday 5th - Friday 9th June. On the last day we will be running an in person writing retreat so you progress your writing, and a hands-on literature searching session. These friendly and helpful sessions are open to all Masters students, and you can book a place online here  

System maintenance 10 May – some services disrupted

Tonight our Library Management System is undergoing scheduled maintenance. During the maintenance window from midnight to 01:30 some services will be at risk.


Open laptop


You will still be able to …

But at times you won’t be able to …

If you have trouble accessing e-resources you can contact the E-resources Team at or you can fill in a Problem Report Form. 

If you want to talk to someone about your account you can contact the Library at 


Lewis Mills – Library Systems Team


System maintenance 3 May – some services disrupted

Tomorrow our Library Management System is undergoing scheduled maintenance. During the maintenance window on Wednesday 3 May 22:00 to 23:00 some services will be at risk.


Open laptop


You will still be able to …

But at times you won’t be able to …

  • find up to the minute locations of items on the Library catalogue, Enterprise.

If you have trouble accessing e-resources, you can contact the E-resources Team at or you can fill in a Problem Report Form. 

If you want to talk to someone about your account, you can contact the Library at 


Lewis Mills – Library Systems Team


Library open Bank Holiday Mondays

Student studying in Library

Picture credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Library will be open as usual on 1 and 8 May during the Bank Holidays.

Our visitor restrictions remain in place for members of the public, but if you’re a Library member, you’ll still be able to access and borrow from our vast range of print materials using our Self-Service machines. If you’re looking for a study space, explore our 1500+ options to find your perfect spot. Our friendly staff will be available to answer your questions if you need advice and the Library Café will be open between 10:00 – 16:00 if you want a break.

While we won’t be able to deal with detailed subject queries on these days, you might find an answer on our Subject resources and guidance webpage and there’s useful exam preparation advice available online from our Study Advice Team.

Please be aware that the IT Service Desk will not be open on these dates.


We look forward to seeing you.


Your Library Team





Preparing for Easter closure

Artificial chick surrounded by colourful eggs on a brown background

Egg-cited for the Easter vacation? Make sure you’re prepared. Image by Couleur from Pixabay

The Easter vacation is fast approaching, so make sure you know about the changes to the Library opening hours!

When are we open?

Between Monday 27 March – Wednesday 5 April, we’ll be open at the following times:

  • Monday 27 March: Open until 19:00
  • Tuesday 28 – Thursday 30 March: 08:30 – 19:00
  • Friday 31 March: 08:30 – 17:00
  • Saturday 1 April: 08:30 – 21:00
  • Sunday 2 April: Open from 08:30
  • Monday 3 – Tuesday 4 April: 24 hours
  • Wednesday 5 April: Open until Midnight

We’ll be closed between Thursday 6 April – Tuesday 11 April for the University Easter closure period.

Term time Library opening hours will resume from 08:30 Wednesday 12 April.

Please see our opening hours page for details on opening times and information about our Summer term hours.


When do you need to return your loans?

Loan periods and due dates will not be affected by the University closure, so make sure you regularly check your Library account for individual return dates on your books.

Recall notices will be sent to your University email address so keep track, return your materials on time and avoid fines.

Library closed? You can return books 24/7 via the external Book Drop. If you do receive a recall notice and you can’t return the item in person, you can always return them by post.


What are the last collection dates for Off-site Store and Closed Access?

Screenshot of the ‘Request from Closed Access’ button

You’ll find the request button on the right of your screen on your PC. For mobile, select from the vertical dots.

Off-site Store and Closed Access collections will not take place during the University closure period, so please submit your requests in good time.

  • Off-site Store items need to be requested before 08:30 Thursday 30 March.
  • Closed Access items need to be requested before 13:30 Wednesday 5 April. 


What if you’re not on campus? 

If you’re away from campus but still want access to a library space, you may be able to do so via the SCONUL access scheme. See Using other libraries for more information about other libraries you may be available to visit. 


If you have any questions, please get in touch. 

Your Library Team 


World Poetry Day in the Library

UNESCO declared in 1999 that the 21st March would be made World Poetry Day, to promote the writing, reading, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world. In the UK we were already celebrating National Poetry Day in the first week of October, but we were very happy to take another one!

So, to celebrate the occasion, we would like to share some poems we particularly like.

Of course they’re all about books. What else would you expect?

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was regarded as an eccentric during her lifetime for only wearing white and preferring not to leave her bedroom. Of course, nobody really needs to leave their bedroom, if that’s where all their books are, and it certainly didn’t stop her from becoming one of the USA’s most important poets. You can find her work on the 4th Floor of the library at 811.39-DIC, or in a number of e-book editions through the Enterprise catalogue.

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas, who described himself as a ‘roistering, drunken and doomed poet’, also liked to crack open a book. He is perhaps best known for his play Under Milk Wood and his poem ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’. If you’d like to read them, you can find his work at 821.912-THO, on the 4th Floor.

Coincidentally, while Dickinson did her best work during her years of seclusion, Thomas was once locked in a room by a friend until he finished the stage adaptation of Under Milk Wood. Is this an essay-writing tip that Study Advice would recommend? Absolutely not. But at least we can all appreciate the value of peace and quiet and study space and teetering towers of books without necessarily locking ourselves in there.

In the Eden I’d like to build
There’s a wealth of library nooks;
There are thousands of shelves and all of them filled
With an orderly display of books.
And lest the dear number appall
Even one most bookishly willed,
There’s wideness of leisure to read them all
In the Eden I’d like to build.


Aaah, that’s the dream.

Do you have a favourite poem you’d like to share?

Restrictions on Library access during examination period

Image of University of Reading Library exterior in the sunlight against a blue sky The University Examinations period will extend from Monday 27 March to Friday 9 June 2023. During this time, the Library amends its visitor policy.

Access for members of the public will be restricted to weekends only. This is to ensure that our students have exclusive access to the study spaces that they need throughout this period.

For more information on visiting the Library as a member of the public, please visit the ‘Members of the Public’ page on our website.


Your Library Team

Preparing for online exams? Follow our top 5 study tips

Retro photo of Reading students sitting examsLike many students, you may be experiencing a new type of exam this year: the ‘online exam’. In due course, you’ll be informed 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 (see video) and start going over the content. You won’t have long between having the paper and submitting your answer. 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: Practise 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 may be in a different form to some previous years, you can still make effective use of past 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 for 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!

Now is the time!

Student visiting the Study Queries desk to find out about contacting an Academic Liaison Librarian

Ask our experts for support at the Study Advice and Maths support desk, Library, Ground Floor weekdays 10:00 – 16:00 or get in touch online.

Get to know your Academic Liaison Librarian, there’s one for every subject offered at Reading. They can support you in making effective use of the huge range of resources the Library has to offer for your studies.

Make the most of their advice by:

  • Attending training sessions offered through your department – this will save you time and ensure you reference publications appropriately in your assignments.
  • Exploring the key resources in your subject and online support through your subject guide. If you haven’t bookmarked it, now’s the time! It’ll be a useful way to keep track of resources and help you stay organised. 
  • Seeking individual support on finding suitable academic sources to use in your assignments. Have you considered boosting your referencing skills by starting to use a reference management tool, such as EndNote or Mendeley? It will save you time in the long run. You can email your librarian or make a one-to-one appointment (in person or online).

Stay ahead of the curve and find your Academic Liaison Librarian on the Library website now.


Jackie Skinner FHEA

Academic Liaison Librarian 

Improvements to Library Wi-Fi during Week 6

Image shows a deep blue sky with lit up silhouette buildings. Several buildings have wi-fi towers on the roof tops suggesting reliable broadband by the presence of consistent, concentric circles in the sky.

In the morning, on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February, DTS have organised for contractors to install extra Wi-Fi access points in the group study area on the 2nd Floor of the Library. The work will be noisy because they will be drilling into the concrete ceiling.  The good news is, these extra access points should improve Wi-Fi connectivity in the building, 

Please bear with us through this short period of disruption. 

Whilst the work takes place, the area will be closed but if you still find the rest of the floor too noisy remember there is a range of alternative study space on campus to choose from, including 

  • Library – there are several alternative locations such as Ground Floor quiet study and the 5th Floor silent study area.  
  • URS building – study space is available in URS between 8:00 – 18:00 Monday to Friday.
  • The Study @RUSU – visit the RUSU website for the most up-to-date information. 

Visit Student essentials, Study space for more information about study spaces and locations. 

Your Library team 

Celebrate LGBT+ History month 

University of Reading LGBT+ icon and text; purple text on a bright blue background with a heartshaped rainbow This month is LGBT+ History month, an opportunity to learn about lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and non-binary history, and we wanted to share some resources with you all… 

LGBT+ Guide 

LGBT+ is an area of research that covers a wide range of academic disciplines so we would like to highlight the  online guide to support research into LGBT+-related topics. 

Taking the same format as our  subject guides  this guide focuses 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. 

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! 

LGBT+2023 logo made up of the rainbow colours with white text on a black clapper board.

Have you explored our collection of LGBT+ film resources?

Suggest resources to help diversify our collections 

You can also help us to continue to diversify the Library’s collections by putting forward your  suggestions. 

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,

Library Diversity and Inclusion Lead

System maintenance 1 February – some services disrupted

Tomorrow our Library Management System is undergoing scheduled maintenance. During the maintenance window on Wednesday 1 February 22:30 to 22:50 some services will be at risk.


Open laptop


You will still be able to …

But at times you won’t be able to log into Enterprise to …

If you have trouble accessing e-resources, you can contact the E-resources Team at or you can fill in a Problem Report Form. 

If you want to talk to someone about your account, you can contact the Library at 

Lewis Mills – Library Systems Team