Three new things: Dissertations

It’s around the time where many of our students will be planning and beginning the research for their dissertations. If you’re at the start of this journey and looking for a bit of help we’ve got three new things which we hope will help you on your way.

1: Llm Dissertation : How to Maximise Marks for Your Practice Focused Dissertation by Suzanne Reece.

Book cover, which features an orange background and a student sitting at a desk facing away from the viewer. Visible on the desk are a laptop and many open books, and there are number hovering around the student's head, implying they are surrounded by research data.

This book is brand new to the library and while it is focused on specifically LLM dissertations, it contains useful information about how to plan for any large research project in Law. Chapters include helping choose your topic, planning and timing, and #SurvivalTips. Reece identifies top tips and common mistakes in students’ work and suggests activities to help you explore your research thoroughly. As such it’s more of a handbook than a set of rules to follow, but we think it will help answer many of the frequently asked questions that students have early in the process.

We have this ebook on an unlimited user license, which means that there’s no waiting and no queue to take it out. Find access information via the DiscoverEd record for this item.

2: Dissertation Festival (Guide and Festival Bag)

You may have seen that Library Services ran our second Dissertation Festival for the year in March 2021. While the festival events don’t exactly line up with Law Dissertation timetable, the wonderful thing about hosting the festival online is that we can keep the resources around for you to access just when you need them most!

  • Are you looking for some inspiration for which of the library collections can help you with your research?
  • Do you need some support in constructing your search strategy, or managing your results?
  • Would you like some tips from students who’ve previously completed their dissertation work?

The Dissertation Festival subject guide has all this and much more available with the click of a button! Recordings are available for our live sessions and slides have been added.  Plus you can access my favourite part, the festival tote bag (not a real bag) via the link on the front page. We can’t furnish you with free pens and post-its for the next academic year, but we do have an image of a penguin and a bagpiper from our collection that you can use as your Zoom background…

3: A twitter thread on #EdLitSearchTips

Our Academic Support Librarian colleagues have been compiling a list of tips that will help you get started with literature searching. Although you may have used DiscoverEd or our Library Databases to find materials for your assignments before, click through to this series of tweets to get advice from information professionals whose business it is to help you find information!

A screen capture of a tweet which features a black and white image of the corner of a laptop, a mug containing many pens and other stationery, and another mug.  The text in the tweet reads "The librarians often get asked for advice on literature searching - so over the next few weeks we will be tweeting some hints and tips! So look out for our #EdLitSearchTips".

Click this image to find a list of #EdLitSearchTips

If you’re struggling to get started with your research, why not arrange a one-to-one with one of the Law Librarians to discuss your research question and which direction you’d like to go? We can help suggest resources or even just provide advice on the best way to go about searching. Look out for the next available ‘Literature search clinic’ appointment using the MyEd Booking System and find the option for ‘Law’. Further details on how to book can be found on this earlier post on our blog, or just email law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Literature search clinics: one-to-one sessions

Do you need help with your research? Have you got yourself into a muddle using legal resources online? Do you just need to know what you need to know?

Book a one-to-one meeting with one of the Law Librarians to discuss your research issues or library problems. In previous one-to-ones we’ve helped students with:

  • search strategies
  • using our subscription databases
  • finding international case law
  • finding historical Scots material online (specifically the Institutional Writers)
  • referencing (specifically using OSCOLA)
  • setting up news alerts for cases or legislation

We arrange appointments once a fortnight using the MyEd booking system. Search for “Literature search clinic” and select the Law specific event, or search for “Law” and select provider group “IS Library and University Collections” to find all our Law related training. Future dates include:

  • 18th March (currently booked)
  • 6th April
  • 22nd April
  • 3rd May
  • 20th May

We release appointments approximately three weeks before the meeting, and all meetings are currently held online via Microsoft Teams with links sent out the week before the appointment. If you cannot see an available meeting slot that suits you please email law.librarian@ed.ac.uk and we will arrange an appointment to suit.

Two silver coloured tin cans are connected by a string. The open end of one can faces the viewer, while the open end of the other faces the right side of the picture. The cans are lying down on a cream marbled background.

Chris Potter, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The problem with ebooks

Two hands enter the screen, one from each side of the image. One is holding a smartphone which has a book spilling out of the side, the other has a pile of paper currency which is being offered in exchange.

Image from mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

Working and studying through the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that we’re more reliant on ebooks and other electronic resources than ever before. As much as we would have liked for this to be a seamless transition to hybrid learning, it’s been a struggle throughout the year to make sure that we have access to all the essential materials you need for your coursework.

One of the reasons that we’re not always able to provide ebook access is that publishers do not always make their material available electronically. They may do this for a number of reasons, one of which is that they are worried they will not make the same amount of profit from print book sales as they usually would. They may also make the price of the ebook much much higher than the price of an individual print book to compensate for this potential loss of sales. For us in the Law school, we have found problems where publishers make books only available if you purchase access to an entire database of resources, often for hundreds of thousands of pounds, when we only need access to a handful of ebooks. This is not a realistic way for us to purchase access – budgets for resources are limited and getting tighter every year.

Some academic librarians in the UK have joined forces to launch an investigation into this spike in ebook prices and limits to availability because it is seriously affecting the courses that universities are able to run. You can read more about this campaign and the open letter sent to the UK Government asking for support here: https://academicebookinvestigation.org/ 

More recently, this campaign has had some publicity in national newspapers including this article in The Guardian by Anna Fazackerley, ‘Price gouging from Covid: Student ebooks costing up to 500% more than in print’:  https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/jan/29/price-gouging-from-covid-student-ebooks-costing-up-to-500-more-than-in-print

Last week it was announced that the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has petitioned the Competitions and Markets Authority to investigate this issue:
https://academicebookinvestigation.org/2021/02/04/chartered-institute-of-library-and-information-professionals-cilip-formally-petitions-competition-and-markets-authority-cma-to-investigate-practices-of-academic-ebook-publishers/ 

We wanted to draw your attention to these items so that you’re aware that action is being taken at a national level, and that librarians and academics are working hard to ensure that higher education institutions are not held to ransom over ebook access. The issues we’re facing here in Edinburgh are not unique, but they are very worrying.  We hope that the investigations that are now being proposed will result in fairer and more equitable access for all in future.

If you’re worried about ebook access to core material for your course please speak to your course organiser or email us, law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Dissertation Festival: Monday 8th – Friday 19th March 2021

  • Do you want to find out more about the library resources available to support your dissertation question?
  • Are you interested in learning how to manage the bibliographic and research data you’ve found?

Join us in a fortnight of online events and find out what the Library can do for you to help you succeed with your dissertation.

  • Make your dissertation something special : find out about the fantastic collections available at the Centre for Research Collections
  • Discover the full range of digital resources that you can access via the University
  • Take the first steps to learn new skills in managing your bibliographic references and your research data

We know that in Law your dissertation period starts later in Semester Two, but it’s never too early to start planning and see what resources are out there! We’ll also be recording many live sessions which will be available to watch back at a time that suits you.

Find out more at: https://edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/dissertation

For more information about how the library can support your dissertation or research project, contact us by emailing law.librarian@ed.ac.uk, or book a one-to-one appointment with us using the MyEd booking system: search for ‘law’ and find the listing for ‘literature search clinic’.

A person is standing in front of a wall with his back to the camera. The wall is covered with bits of white paper showing images, notes and text, suggesting he is organising his thoughts and constructing a plan.

Forward planning is important! (Image from pexels on pixabay)

Welcome back, and the Law Library during Lockdown

A pair of hands hold a tablet with an image of shelves of books displayed on the screen.

Digital Library, from Geralt on Pixabay

Hello, and welcome back! This semester is set to be another strange one as we begin in ‘lockdown’ conditions in line with Scottish Government restrictions. This means that for the next few weeks the library will be running an online service with many physical buildings closed or with only very restricted access. Full information about the availability of library sites can be found on the Library Service Updates page.

If you feel a bit stressed about the availability of materials over the coming weeks and months, rest assured we will continue to work to make sure that all core material is available electronically and that we have as much ebook access to the things you need as possible.

We’re running a few online sessions in the coming weeks to help you refamiliarise yourself with online library services. One of these is a refresher session on the 27th January 2021, between 9.30 and 10am, and is open to students at all levels. We will provide a short update on library services, some key resources that you may not already be familiar with, and will have time to answer your questions too. You can book a place for this online event here, or by searching in the MyEd Events Booking system for ‘Library Services Refresher Session – Law’

We’ll also be running an introductory event for new PG Online students beginning in January 2021, and a repeat of our popular PhD Using the Library session which we last ran in September. For booking information please follow the links or get in touch with us via law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Finally you can also attend the Library Bitesize sessions which we’ll be running in the coming weeks, focused on Using the Online Library. For links to this and all other Library Bitesize sessions please see the Events Booking system.

We hope that you managed to enjoy your festive break and that you’re managing to proceed with your studies as planned. We look forward to helping support your studies online over the coming semester. As ever if there’s anything we can do to set your minds at ease please let us know!

Exams and revision

It’s that time of year where everyone is focused on exams and assignment deadlines. In 2020 of course there’s the added pressure of taking a different kind of test and worrying about getting home safely. It is an extremely stressful time.

If you’re struggling to find your studying groove you may find the links in our Exam and Revision subject guide helpful. You will find information about library services and how to access resources online, but there’s also a wellbeing section with ideas on how to take care of yourself.

The Law subject guide has loads of information including links and instructions on how to use many of the subject specific resources we have available.

And of course we’ve been putting videos up on the Law Librarian Media Hopper channel all semester, so if you’ve forgotten how to use Westlaw or need a refresher on referencing take a look.

Here are our top five tips for revision and successful study:

  • Drink plenty of water. It sounds obvious, but the better hydrated you are, the better your brain functions.
  • Take breaks. Make sure you get up from your desk and stretch and move around a bit, ideally for a few minutes every hour. Get outside if you can, or open a window. Even when you’re studying on-campus in a library it’s possible to leave your workspace for a short period to take a walk around.
  • Organise your notes. It’s a well known fact that librarians love stationery! We’re big fans of colourful highlighters, sticky notes and fancy pens. Even if that doesn’t make organisation fun for you it’s a good idea to keep notes from the same subject together and easily accessible when you’re working on assignments. It’s amazing how much time can be wasted looking for that one scrap of paper that had an important case citation on it.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Inevitably if you’re still working on the day your work is due your references will disappear, you’ll miss the bus, your internet will conk out and the printer will jam. Try to anticipate the issues by planning for the worst-case scenario – sometimes this means tricking yourself into pretending the due date is a day or two before the real deadline.
  • Work hard, play hard. When you’re finished studying for the day do something completely different with your free time. Switching off from revision and doing something active, creative or social will help you unwind which will give your brain a rest and will allow you to come back to the task fresh.

We hope some of this information has been useful to you, and wish you the best of luck with your upcoming exams, assignments and submissions. If you have any questions about library resources please do let us know on law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Lets get quizzical, quizzical!

You may remember that as part of your introduction to library services the Law Library team presented information on how to find legal resources using our databases. We’ve created a short online quiz for you to test your knowledge and identify areas you may need more practice on.

The questions have been chosen with particular reference to the material used on the Scottish Legal Studies undergraduate course, however we think it’d be a useful resource to practice your skills at all levels.

The quiz can be accessed using the link below and will be live until the 11th December.

Finding Legal Resources Quiz

Please note the quiz is not compulsory. If you have any questions or comments please let us know by emailing law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Meet your LexisNexis Student Associate!

We’d like to introduce you to Sam Ingleton, one of your fellow students who is a specialist in working with LexisNexis and all their resources – such as the invaluable LexisLibrary database. We asked Sam some questions and hope you’ll enjoy getting to know him just as we did!

Tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you and what do you study at Edinburgh?

My name is Sam, and I’m taking a Graduate-Entry LLB, following a Philosophy and English Literature (MA) from the University of Edinburgh. I’ve been fortunate to receive a training contract offer from DLA Piper in Edinburgh, which starts in 2022 – a wonderful certainty in a time of global upheaval! Studying for my LLB and working for LexisNexis leaves relatively little time for extra-curricular activities, but I enjoy winemaking, writing, music production, and exploring the city with my dog in my spare hours. I’ll be living in Edinburgh for the foreseeable future, resisting the lure of London for as long as possible; this is a city with a lot to offer young professionals and students (as long as you don’t mind the short days and pervasive drizzle!).

Why did you apply to be the student associate for LexisNexis?

LexisNexis is an extremely useful platform. It has helped me in my own studies, and prepared me for a future of legal research in a professional context. I always had ambitions to teach, but I could never manage full-time academia or classroom teaching. My sister teaches primary school children – a difficult, but extremely admirable profession! Working as a LexisNexis student associate is a fantastic compromise: I find great fulfilment in the practise of academic tuition. As well as the obvious benefits which come with competence in legal research, LexisNexis gave me the opportunity to be of benefit to others, in a community that thrives on a collective, supportive, inclusive ambition.

What do you think is the best feature that LexisLibrary offers for students?

With LexisLibrary, it’s the simple, intuitive functions which bring the most value. My favourite tools are those which barely merit an explanation! The ability to ‘drill-down’ through search results, narrowing by key words, topics, and specific search strings makes finding both familiar and unknown cases incredibly straightforward. This functionality accelerates the process of constructing new legal arguments, as well as enabling those searching for case law to support a specific point in an essay or tutorial question.

If you could name one top tip that everyone should know about your platform, what would it be?

One thing I wish I had known before I began the infamously arduous application process: the ‘alerts’ function. Using this tool, I receive weekly updates on developments at my target firms, which I never would have found using Google, or combing through legal news publications. This way, as soon as cases and judgements reach the press, I can see how my firm has been involved, and read their submissions and the judge’s opinion in full. This would be a much more interesting talking point during an interview than anything I presented during my own assessment period. For aspiring solicitors, I think LexisNexis is an often-neglected opportunity to monitor your specific firms very closely. You’ll never need to have a generic ‘legal implications of the pandemic’ discussion ever again!

When students book a training session with you, what can they expect to get from the meeting?

I’m proud of my ability to move students through the certification quickly, and highlight the tools which I think will be most useful to them, selectively and efficiently. It’s no secret that law students are time-poor, and ‘talking heads’ on video conferences are a very modern nuisance. I try to keep engagement high, explanations concise, and then give the session to the attendees to complete the certification and ask questions. Ideally, the whole process is complete in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. I also like to highlight the extreme usefulness of the certification. I spoke to a partner at an international law firm, who expressed to me that the thing they wanted to see from this generation of applicants was a complete literacy in legal database use. I think this could be the key to transforming a good application into an application which secures a training contract.

Sam has provided an introductory poster in case you want to read a bit more about how he can help you with all your LexisNexis needs. You can contact him via LinkedIn, by email (sam.ingleton@googlemail.com), or you can find out more on the LexisNexis Students UK Facebook page.

Meet your Westlaw Student Representative!

We often receive requests from students for help with databases, but did you know that there’s a student specialist who can help you with all things Westlaw? Sofia Renshaw is available to answer questions, provide training and has a load of tips and tricks for getting the best from this popular legal database.

I am Sofia and I am currently in my final year studying Law at the University of Edinburgh. I applied for the role of Westlaw Student Representative as I recognise the importance of Westlaw as a resource for law students, particularly as we move to increased online teaching. Westlaw is an invaluable source for students at all stages of their law career and I recommend knowing how to use effectively as early as possible so you can get the most out of it in the coming years! I think that one of the most useful features of Westlaw is the precedent map. This allows you to see where a case has been cited and trace back through authorities to ensure the case you are using represents good law and strengthens any points you are making!

Westlaw training sessions are interactive and aim to prepare you for Westlaw Basic and Advanced certifications which you can put on your CV – remember that 94 of the top 100 UK law firms use Westlaw so this is a really valuable addition to any CV! I can also offer 1:1 sessions if there are specific concerns you wish to have assistance with and I run weekly Drop In Clinics where you can ask any questions!

You can contact Sofia for more information on training sessions or one-to-one appointments by heading to the Future Legal Legends Facebook page, or by emailing her directly: s1725665@sms.ed.ac.uk.

Referencing and Beyond Reading Lists

Last week the Law Librarians held a Referencing training session- focussing on OSCOLA!

If you didn’t get a chance to come along then don’t worry as we will be uploading the recording on to the Law Librarians Media Hopper Channel very soon.

 


Another date for your diary….

On the 2nd December at 9am there will be a Beyond your Reading List session- looking at where else you may find useful and relevant information.

Details are available on the events booking at https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=44060 

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