Edinburgh Research Explorer Statistics: December 2019

Edinburgh Research Explorer: December 2019 downloads infographic

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January Journal Club : Supporting systematic review for researchers

Research Design and Evidence                                                                               Wikipedia Commons : https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

The first Journal Club of 2020 met on 8 January to talk about : Dalton, M., 2019. How individual consultations with a librarian can support systematic reviews in the social sciences. Journal of Information Literacy, 13(2), pp.163–172.

Our first discussion question was whether this article sufficiently defines what a systematic review is, and whether this is understood by student researchers in the social sciences. A key question we ask students in our courses is if they should be doing a systematic review at all. Systematic reviews entail very precise methodologies which can result in a large and time consuming piece of work. We find that in the social sciences, what many students want is to review the literature systematically, which is not the same. Read More

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New: DOI minting for PhD theses

We are pleased to announce that from January 2020 all new PhD theses submitted to the Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA) will be assigned a Digital Object Identifier (DOI). The Library will be using the DataCite DOI registration agency to provide this service.

What is a DOI?

A DOI is a character string (a ‘digital identifier’) used to uniquely identify and provide a permanent link to a digital object, such as a journal paper or other scholarly work.

Benefits of having a DOI

Assigning DOIs to PhD means that researchers are able to confidently cite theses alongside traditional journal articles knowing that a link will be persistent. The benefits for authors include gaining due academic credit for their efforts to produce these valuable research outputs and the ability to track and measure online attention via alternative metrics like Plum X or Altmetric.

Which PhD theses will get DOIs?

In the first instance the Library will give all new PhD theses a DOI once the final version has been submitted to Pure and graduation has occurred. Before a DOI is registered the PhD thesis must be archived fully in ERA. Some PhD theses submitted for Winter 2019 graduation which have not yet appeared online in ERA will be assigned a DOI.

We aim to roll out and assign DOIs for all of the PhDs in the existing online collection, but since the collection is large (>20,000) we will have to approach this in stages.


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High Rises and Lows: Emotions in an Edinburgh Suburb

In 1957 three professionals approached the University of Edinburgh’s Social Science Research Centre requesting a study of the North Edinburgh communities in which they worked; they were concerned they were failing. These communities, some of the most deprived in the city, were the product of a programme of social housing which the council had begun in the 1930s. Many of the residents had been relocated from the slum clearances of Leith which was incorporated into the city of Edinburgh by the controversial Boundaries Extension Act 1920.

The Social Environment Research Unit was established and a team of university researchers spent three years interviewing, observing and interacting with local residents and organisations. The project yielded over 400 interviews with residents and non-residents, local events and community meetings.

Cherry Suites and Coal Fires

The audio recordings unfortunately do not survive but the researchers summarised each interview and meeting that took place using a technique known as “Process Recording”. This technique means they included observations about the interviewees’ surroundings and also incidental occurrences. In many instances they also record family background and circumstances. This technique paints an anecdotal picture of the interior and exterior landscape of these new estates:  Cherry 3 piece suites, brand new televisions, coal fireplaces, artificial fruit, TB, hire purchase salesmen, enyclopaedia britannicas, Wagon Train and Emergency Ward 10. The legacy of the Second World War looms large, with fractured families, fathers on disability allowance, unable to work, and memories of mothers bringing up children alone and on little income.

The results of the project were collated in “Social Environment in Suburban Edinburgh” by the SERU’s Director Geoffrey Hutton and Edinburgh University’s Professor Tom Burns. But what can these summaries tell us about how residents in these communities felt about their new lives at this point in time, the effect of their local environment including, for many interviewees, the contrast with the environment from which they were forcibly resettled.


One of the most prevalent emotions in the summaries is anxiety, social anxiety in particular.  Many of the residents were relocated from slum areas in the city centre and were anxious to hide their past. This in turn lead some of them to isolate themselves from their neighbours.

The increased space, while an obvious improvement on their previous accommodation which often saw whole families sharing one room, residents found themselves with more rooms to furnish and became targets for the persistent hire purchase salesmen peddling the latest modern conveniences or fashionable wares.  One interviewee remarked that her young daughter was anxious and frightened going to sleep in a room by herself having been used to sleeping with her siblings.  Sleep disturbance was in fact common and is referred to as the cause or symptom of some of the anxiety. The soundproofing in the new houses was bad, perhaps due to the underfloor heating, with residents reporting they could hear the television from several flats above them. Neighbours would use the rubbish chutes at all times of the night, children played in and around the stairs and vans selling groceries and other goods would drive round with their hooters blaring, all contributing to the level of noise often the source of disagreements between neighbours.

The contraceptive pill was not yet widely available and with many interviewees avoiding birth control altogether for religious reasons, married women, already struggling with large families, faced the monthly anxiety of potential pregnancies. One interviewee confided that her GP had recommended birth control to her as a method of alleviating her anxiety and she hoped her husband might agree if there was a health benefit for her.  Teenage pregnancy was also an underlying concern for families with older children with rumours rife about the behaviour of pupils at the local senior school.


Many of the residents were re-housed from Leith and with a few exceptions they all remembered the area fondly, despite the appalling living conditions. They felt neighbourly relations were better, there was no competition, no suspicion. Whole families often occupied the same block of flats for generations, there was a shared history. One of the researchers dismisses this as fantasy and believes that in fact neighbours were in and out of each others flats in Leith out of necessity not necessarily out of friendliness. With more space on the new estates and with less shared history there was less need for this sort of dependency and indeed some residents welcomed a rest from the constant social interaction synonymous with tenement living.


However, the new estates were not well served by public transport or local amenities and in an age before mobile phones and widespread car ownership they could be lonely places. Young mothers and the elderly, in particular, reported feeling isolated.

“In a tenement you feel closer to your neighbour. In a house on your own you’re really on your own”

 They had been used to being a short walk from shops or relatives and friends but now found themselves cut off from others for most of the day.

One of the interviewers noted the boredom experienced by young mothers stuck at home with young children and nowhere to go, many expressed a desire to go out to work when their children started school. A local health visitor remarked on the widespread use of tranquilisers for bouts of weeping bouts, irritability and sleeplessness.


The summaries allude to a lot of anger directed towards the Corporation. Many of the residents were given no choice about the type of house they were allocated and were often relocated with no assistance or instruction. One family commented that they had been in their house several weeks before they discovered how to work the heating. Many were not given the chance to view their new home prior to moving in. They found themselves with gardens to care for with no appropriate tools or equipment; some of the gardens were not planted or divided up and it was up to the tenants themselves to erect fences. The pram lockers were damp and not fully enclosed allowing in dirt and dust.  They had complaints about the workmanship of the housing – badly fitting do0rs, windows rusting, dampness – the lack of local shops, bus shelters, post boxes and safe outside space for children to play. Those residents in newer estates such as Pilton and Muirhouse expressed dismay at the sheer volume and density of the housing, something they hadn’t been made fully aware of prior to moving. One of the residents, who was hoping to move as soon as possible, noted that there was “a distinct air of disgruntlement” throughout the area and referred to the “sheer physical dourness”.


There is, however, also happiness and joy to be found within the interviews and many residents were clearly overjoyed with their new accommodation. For some it was an opportunity to escape the dirt and overcrowding of the city centre. Parents hoped it would be a healthier environment for their children. They had space, indoor bathrooms, privacy for the first time. One of the residents living near the top of one of the high rises is quoted as saying:

“What more could you want, to look out of the front windows onto the Pentland Hills, look out the back windows over the Firth of Forth – beautiful, beautiful”


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Resource Lists: Semester 2 Checklist

There are five quick checks Course organisers can make to ensure students have access to their Semester 2 Resource Lists and key readings:

1. Is there a published 2019/2020 version of the course Resource List?

If not, get in touch and we can copy a previous year’s list for use in Semester 2. You can check if there is a list for a previous year by searching on the Resource Lists homepage.  Change course status to ‘ALL’ to view Resource Lists from previous years.

2. Have you made the link in the Learn main menu visible to students?

We want students to be able to access their Resource Lists form their Learn course.  There are three requirements:

  1. The Resource List needs to be published
  2. The Resource List needs to be linked to the same course code used on Learn (see point 3 below)
  3. The ‘Resource Lists’ link on the main menu in Learn needs to be visible. NB: The Library does not do this – Course organisers, Learning Technologists or School admin staff (depending on School practice) are responsible for making the link visible. 

If there is a checkbox with a score through it next to the ‘Resource List’ link then the link is NOT visible to students 

To enable the ‘Resource Lists’ link on Learn  follow this guidance or contact your Learning Technologist.

Once the ‘Resource List’ link is enabled, test it – if you can click through to the list it should be working for students. The link won’t work in student preview mode on Learn – this is expected behaviour.

3. Is your Resource List associated with the correct course code?

The Resource List needs to be linked to the correct 2019/20 course code. If it’s not, students won’t be able to access their list from Learn.

You can see the course code at the top of the list in blue. The academic year is also displayed here.  Make sure (2019/20) is part of the code.

If the course code isn’t correct, you can associate the list with the correct code.

Step 1: Selecting ‘Manage course association’ from the list menu

Step 2:  Click ‘Remove this course’









Step 3: Search for the 2019/20 code.

Step 4: Associate and close

If you can’t find a course code, get in touch with Library.Learning@ed.ac.uk and we’ll add the code and link the list. 

4.If you are a new Course Organiser, do you and your colleagues have access to edit the course Resource List?

If you are a new Course organiser or don’t have editing rights to your course list, contact Library.Learning@ed.ac.uk and we’ll set you up with the necessary permissions.

If you would like to invite colleagues to edit a list:

Step 1: Click on ‘Collaborators’ (top right of the screen), then on ‘Manage collaborators’

Step 2: Start typing the name of the person you’d like to add (you can also use their UUN). Select the person from the drop down menu.

Step 3: Decide if they will have managing or editing rights

Step 4: Send an invitation. The person added will receive an email notification containing a link to the list.

5.Have you made any required changes to your list?

You can edit your list at any point throughout the year. If no action is required from the Library (eg make a purchase or provide a scan) then you don’t need to send the list for review.

There are some guides and short videos to help you edit your list.

How to edit your list

This video shows you how to add, move and delete resources on a list:

Contact Library.Learning@ed.ac.uk if you have any questions about Resource Lists.

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New College Library is moving!

Outside the David Hume Tower

A major Estates project means that we must move the New College Library collections and services.

What this means for you
• New College Library (NCL) closed at 5.00 pm on Friday 20st December 2019. It will re-open at David Hume Tower (DHT) in George Square on 13th January 2020, providing access to General Collections.
• Archive material and some Special Collections (selected in consultation with the School of Divinity) will be available at the Centre for Research Collections at the Main Library in George Square. Remaining Special Collections will be unavailable until the Library returns to New College in Summer 2021.
• The School of Divinity are planning to make the NCL Reserve Collection available in the Semple’s Close Wing of New College from 13th January 2020. Read More

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New to the Library – Struggles for Freedom: Southern Africa (Aluka)

I’m happy to let you know that following a request from a member of HCA staff the Library  now has a subscription to the digital primary resource Struggles for Freedom: Southern Africa (Aluka) from JSTOR. This extensive and fascinating resource contains 20,000 objects and 190,000 pages of documents and images documenting the liberation struggles in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

You can access Struggles for Freedom: Southern Africa (Aluka) via the Databases A-Z list and the Digital primary source and archive collections guide. You can also access it via DiscoverEd. Read More

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New e-journal – Annual Review of Developmental Psychology

The Library now subscribes to the Annual Review of Developmental Psychology.

The Annual Review of Developmental Psychology covers the significant advances in the developmental sciences, including cognitive, linguistic, social, cultural, and biological processes across the lifespan. The invited reviews will synthesize the theoretical, methodological, and technological developments made over the past several decades that have led to important new discoveries relevant beyond psychology, including education, cognitive science, economics, public health, and public policy.

Access this journal via DiscoverEd or our e-journals AZ list.

Further info

The Library subscribes to all e-journals published by Annual Reviews.

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Edinburgh Research Archive Statistics: November 2019

Edinburgh Research Archive: November 2019 downloads infographic

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The Christmas Book Flood

Image: Engraving by F. Barnard from Christmas Books by Charles Dickens, (LRA.S.6660/1). Title page.

Here at the UCF, things are feeling firmly festive – the tiny office tree has been bedecked, mince pies are heaped in the break room, and staff are sporting some of their best knitwear – it’s definitely almost Christmas! Beyond all the feasting and gift-giving, one of my favourite moments of the season is having the time to slow down and relax, to cosy up in front of a warm fire and read a good book by the glow of fairy lights. And this is exactly the Christmas custom in Iceland. Every year in the few months approaching December, publishers release all their new titles in the prevailing tradition of Jólabókaflóðið, or the “Christmas book flood”. This practice dates back to World War II, where currency restrictions limited the amount of imported giftware. This did not extend to paper however, and therefore the humble book became the default gift. Christmas Eve is the main gift-giving day in Iceland, and after receiving their crisp new books many Icelanders spend the night cosied up and reading away, as in my idyllic winter image.

In the same spirit, I hope to introduce you to a deluge of Christmas books held here at the UCF. Amongst the more literary offerings, there are some unexpected instructive volumes; The history of the Christmas card (.74168 Bud.) for example, a guide to eradicating Christmas tree pests (Reference seq.) and the slightly less seasonal, An investigation of the coconut-growing potential of Christmas Island (F 634.616 Dir.). I’m not sure those titles are exactly what I’m hoping to find under my tree this year!

Offering us a more festive read is Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Christmas Sermon (LRA.S.3773). First appearing in the pages of Scribner’s Magazine in 1888, these musings were subsequently published in their own slim little volume by Chatto & Windus in 1906. Here, Stevenson considers how Christmas is a period of both reflection and celebration:

“There is no cutting of the Gordian knots of life; each must be smilingly unravelled. To be honest, to be kind – to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make, upon the whole, a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends, but these without capitulation – above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself – here is a task for all that a man has fortitude and delicacy. He has an ambitious soul who would ask more; he has a hopeful spirit who should look in such an enterprise to be successful…But Christmas is not only the mile-mark of another year, moving us to thoughts of self-examination: it is a season, from all its associations, whether domestic or religious, suggesting thoughts of joy (p. 14-16)”

A handwritten inscription in the opening pages, “With much love from…” shows us that this book too was originally given as a gift, which is a cheering thought.

Furthermore, I cannot think of Christmas and not think of Dickens. This may be because The Muppet Christmas Carol is the most beloved film in my household at this time of year, but I am firmly of the opinion that in this tale, Dickens created the best and most enduring Christmas story of all time. We hold several editions of this classic at the UCF, including within a collection of Dickens’ Christmas books published in 1892 by Chapman & Hall (LRA.S.6660/1). In the preface, Dickens writes of the volume: “My chief purpose was, in a whimsical kind of masque which the good-humour of the season justified, to awaken some loving and forbearing thoughts, never out of season in a Christian land.” Bound in an appropriate holly-green with gold lettering on the spine, this beautiful volume is further illustrated inside with 28 engravings by F. Barnard. Above you may see the decorative title page, whilst below is Ebenezer Scrooge encountering the ghost of Jacob Marley, and a transformed Scrooge carrying Tiny Tim through the streets on Christmas day.

Image: Christmas Books, opposite title page.

Image: Christmas Books, p. 8.













My family will most definitely be receiving some rectangular-shaped packages this Christmas, although perhaps not a first edition Dickens. During my most recent bookshop trip I even accidentally picked up a little gift for myself – Stuart Kells’ The Library: a catalogue of wonders (Counterpoint, 2018). The blurb calls it, “A love letter to libraries and to their makers and protectors”, and I can’t think of anything better to curl up with on Christmas Eve. A Merry Christmas to us all, and happy reading!


Daisy Stafford, UCF Library Assistant

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Default utility Image High Rises and Lows: Emotions in an Edinburgh Suburb In 1957 three professionals approached the University of Edinburgh’s Social Science Research Centre requesting a...
Default utility Image Diamonds and Rust: Re-housing the Student Records One of the largest components of the Department of Social Work’s archive is a collection...


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