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.

Click & Collect comes to the Law Library

The Law Library now is part of the Click & Collect Service!

The Click & Collect service has been expanding since it’s launch in Feb 2021. As of 29th March 2021 staff and students are able to place Click & Collect requests for print material from the Law Library collections.

The Law Library resources are in addition to those already available from the Main Library, New College Library, ECA Library and University Collections Facilities. Items based at other site libraries are not yet available for Click & Collect.

To order a book collection using the service:

  • Place your request through DiscoverEd.
  • You can order up 3 Click & Collect items at any one time. The maximum number of requests covers your total current Click & Collect requests.
  • All items requested should be collected from the Main Library as the Law Library remains closed.
  • Staff will undertake retrievals of items requested from the Law Library once a week (Tuesdays). So depending on when you place your request it may mean that it may take over a week for you to receive an email notification that your requested item is available for collection.
  • Once you have received an email notification that your requested Law Library item is available you should make a booking to collect your item from the Main Library.

Full details of the service are available on the main Library Click and Collect Service webpages:

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/library-services-update-2020-21/click-and-collect

Don’t forget that the Scan & Deliver Service is also available to you!

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/using-library/request-resources/scan-and-deliver%20

 

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)

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.

The Law Library, Old College

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Have you visited the Law Library this year?

This is a really unusual year for staff and students at Edinburgh and it can be disconcerting not knowing which facilities are open on campus, or what to expect when you get there. We want to reassure any students who are keen to visit the Law Library at Old College that there will be a warm welcome for you there. Our Helpdesk Team are working hard to make sure the library service is as safe as possible while still providing the excellent support you need to access the resources and study spaces in the building.

We’ve asked our Helpdesk Manager, Fran, to offer a few words of advice for anyone wishing to visit the library:

Library Helpdesk staff would like to welcome you back to the Library! We are here to help with guiding you to the study space that you have booked, card replacements and general enquiries. We do ask that you follow the guidelines for things that have been put in place to ensure the safety of all library users and staff. This means that you must wear a face covering (unless you have an exemption) at all times, even when you are sat in a study space. We have put a lot of cleaning material and hand sanitiser in the library, if anything is missing please let us know. There is a well marked out one way system which is there for you to follow and ensures that we all can maintain social distancing.

Our Helpdesk staff are ready to assist you in the library.

Fran and her team are ready to greet you during the library’s open hours, which are currently as listed below:

Monday 21 September – Friday 4 December 2020
Days Opening hours
Monday – Thursday 9am – 9.50pm
Friday 9am – 6.50pm
Saturday 9am – 4.50pm
Sunday 12noon – 4.50pm

These hours may change from the 5th December 2020 in preparation for exams. For more information on this and other changes to the service, check the Law Library pages on the university website:

Law Library Information
Law Library Opening Hours
Booking a study space

We hope that you stay safe and know that the Law Library will be ready to welcome you back whenever it is safe for you to be on campus.

Students sit in armchairs on the mezzanine level, visible in the top half of an archway. Students browse books in the library stacks on the ground floor.

View of the mezzanine from the Senate Room

Dissertation Festival: 26th October – 6th November

Dissertation Festival promotional image, including dates of the event and a link to Subject Guide. Are you writing a dissertation this year? Do you want to find out more about the library resources available to support your dissertation?

From the 26th October to the 6th November 2020 we have a fortnight of online events which will highlight what the Library can do for you to help you succeed with your dissertation.

One of the events we’re holding is a Dissertation Fair which showcases library resources and services which support CAHSS students specifically on Thursday 29 October. You can:

  • 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

For details of how to book this or any of our other events please visit the Dissertation Festival Subject Guide: https://edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/dissertation

Not available to attend live sessions, or feel that your dissertation is still too far away to plan for? Don’t worry! Most live sessions will be recorded and made available after the Dissertation Festival to be used asynchronously at a time that suits you. The Subject Guide will be updated after the events have taken place with more information.