LibSmart: Popular modules

By now we hope the name LibSmart is familiar to you. Whether you’ve seen a slide in a presentation from an Academic Support Librarian, a page on the display screens in the library, or you’re just an avid reader of this blog, we hope you know that our online information literacy course is up and running, ready for any staff or students at the University of Edinburgh to self-enrol via Learn.

You may also know that for every module you complete in LibSmart you receive a Digital Badge, issued to you by the ASL team via Badgr. We’ve been keeping an eye on the number of students enrolled and also the number of badges we’ve issued for each module, and we’re starting to see some trends emerge even though it’s still early in the academic year.

Image of all LibSmart Badges with text "Choose the modules relevant to you and earn digital badges to recognise your achievement!"

LibSmart badges

For LibSmart I, we’ve definitely seen the most badges issued for the first module Getting Started With The Library. This isn’t a great surprise as it is the first module and therefore a logical place for people to start. We’re also seeing great numbers in our Your Information Landscape module which helps students orientate themselves with the resources that are helpful for their subject area. We’ve also seen the most growth month-to-month in our Referencing and Plagiarism module, perhaps because we’re getting close to assessment time now and people are making sure they’re familiar with how to reference correctly for their assignments.

When it comes to LibSmart II, we’ve had a nice even spread of badges being awarded across all modules. The most popular so far has been Data mindfulness: finding and managing data for your dissertation, which shows a real appetite for assistance with dissertation and thesis work. This is great news as this is exactly what we hoped LibSmart II would do – help those at an advanced stage of study complete the big pieces of work! We’ve also got a three-way tie in second place for the Health Literature, Digital Images and Special Collections Fundamentals modules all having the same number of badges awarded. Because we assume these would appeal to students of quite different disciplines, it’s great to see the word is getting out to different schools!

Have you had a look to see what LibSmart can offer yet? Check the website for more information, or watch our self-enrol demonstration video to help you get started.

Finding Resources: Subject Guides

Where to start?

Following on from my general tips for finding resources and navigating the online library, this blog post will cover why you should check out Subject Guides, and highlights some resources, old and new, that you may not already know about for studies. 

When you are looking for resources, remember not everything in the Library collection is on DiscoverEd, so it’s best to check out your Subject Guide.  

Subject Guides bring together all the most relevant library resources for a subject or topic. These guides, put together by Academic Support Librarians (ASLs), are always a good place to start when you’re looking for resources.   Continue reading

Mixed Methods Reviews

Most researchers have heard of and understand the needs of a systematic review (SR), however the concept of a mixed methods review (MMR) can be confusing. The types of questions students and researchers ask can include:

  • Can I do this type of research?
  • How do I combine the data?
  • My quantitative and qualitative data are different – how do I make sense of this?

MMRs differ from the traditional model of SR as they aim to answer complex interventions and social policy type questions. They go beyond what works and look to highlight the complexity of what is happening, to explain why things make an impact and what may influence how an intervention works, offering context to interventions.

To answer such questions MMRs need to draw from both quantitative and qualitative material (Pearson et al, 2015), but this does not mean they cannot be systematic!

To be systematic they should demonstrate the same transparent and explicit approach that established SR methods require – so have a protocol, as well as detailed reporting of methods. There would need to be appraisal and analysis of the included literature. They would need to show a rigorous research process (Gough et al, 2017).

There are different review approaches included in this type of research, but it is important that the research question uses both qualitative and quantative data. If the research question does not then it may be better to use another type of review method. An overview of review types can be found in an article by Sutton et al (2019).

How the types of data are combined depends on the research objectives of the review.

The resource SAGE Research Methods (which is available to all staff and students at the University via our Library Databases pages) has lots of information and advice on the ways that the differing data can be analysed and combined, as well as an overview of this family of research methodology.

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/databases-a-z/databases-s

Book cover for SAGE handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioural ResearchBook cover for Mixed Methods Research: A guide to the fieldBook cover for An Introduction To Fully Integrated Mixed Methods Research

Donna Watson
Academic Support Librarian 

Finding Resources: Navigating the Online Library

The Online Library is a vast resource. Whatever you study, you will find what you need in the Library collections. For all that it is wide and wonderful, however, I know (from personal experience) navigating the Online Library can be overwhelming. Read on for tips on where to look for resources and how to get the best out of the Online Library… 

Subject Guides 

Subject Guides are a great place to start your search for resources. If you haven’t already, head over to the Subject Guides list and find all the most relevant library resources for your subject and more… 

Check out our blog dedicated to Subject Guides for more information, coming soon...
Continue reading

Making library data work for us

Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay

On 2-4 November I attended the LibPMC Conference (International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries). The conference content was really varied, including a focus on the needs of stakeholders and communities and actively using qualitative and quantitative data to improve services and the user experience. Here are some highlights.

  1. But can it last? How the pandemic transformed our relationship with data. Dr Frankie Wilson, Bodleian Library
  2. Knowledge is PowerBI: How data visualisation helped inform services during the pandemic. Elaine Sykes, Liverpool John Moore’s University
  3. Using return on investment to tell the story of library value and library values. Prof Scott HW Young, Prof Hannah McKelvey – Montana State University
  4. Assembling a Virtual Student Library Advisory Board during COVID-19. Prof Chantelle Swaren, Prof Theresa Liedtka – University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  5. Charting the Change: Analysing How Online Delivery Made A Difference to Who Is Accessing Academic Skills Programmes. Louise Makin, Academic Engagement Manager, Liverpool John Moores University. 

Continue reading

Visit to University of Dundee Library

The past eighteen months have been quite isolating for staff as well as students at academic institutions, and this has meant that opportunities for networking and visiting colleagues from other universities have been in short supply. Recently I was invited to visit the University of Dundee’s Main Library thanks to Kayleigh McGarry, Digital Literacy and Service Development Librarian.

Although Kayleigh works across all subject areas in Dundee, she and I both have a specialist interest in Law as we previously worked in the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service Library Service together. The Law collection at Dundee is housed in the Main Library and I was delighted to see a familiar face during my visit!

Image of a bust of Lady Clark of Calton, situated on a pedestal against a white wall.

Bust of Lady Clark of Calton, Senator of the College of Justice and formerly Chairman of the Scottish Law Commission.

While I was interested to view the Law collection, it was also helpful to see how another institution have dealt with the challenges of the pandemic with regards their study spaces, group study rooms, and moving around the library. Most of the actions that have been taken in Dundee are very similar to our own service adjustments in the past year. Students are now able to use most study spaces on a drop in basis just like in our own libraries, and masks are worn throughout the building. The usual hand sanitising procedures and one-way systems are in place, and overall staff reported great cooperation from students during this tricky time. It was a real pleasure to see students back on campus and making the most of the available facilities. I have to confess that I’m quite jealous of the library’s podcast and recording studio, and seeing their makerspace reminded me of the brilliant facilities we have in the uCreate Studios on the first floor of our own Main Library.

Overall I found the visit to be both reassuring – the challenges we’ve faced as staff and students at Edinburgh are not unique, and knowing that other university library services have made similar choices to our own suggests that we’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances – and inspiring, because Kayleigh and I have a plan in the works to further encourage networking amongst our colleagues across HE institutions in Scotland. Hopefully this will be the first of many renewed opportunities for visiting libraries and sharing experiences to come.

SarahLouise McDonald
Academic Support Librarian to the School of Law

Visiting our campus libraries… virtually!

Image outside the Main Library entrance on George Sqauare

The Main Library entrance on George Square. [Taken by Paul Dodds, copyright of the University of Edinburgh]

As the semester gets going you may be keen to visit one of our many beautiful libraries to find materials, use a study space, or generally just soak up the atmosphere.

However we know that after the past year some students may be anxious about coming on to campus, and may be worried about what to expect. In order to help with that we’ve prepared Library Orientation Guides for each of our sites so you can familiarise yourself with the building before your visit. It includes information on what’s in the collections, photos of the library, and links to other helpful resources you may want to use. You can find them here:

Library Orientation Guides

You’ll also find a guide to Using the Library Online, which we think will be helpful for our online or distance students, or those who are self-isolating or in quarantine.

Other preparations for visiting campus may include looking at maps. Did you know we’ve got an interactive campus map? If you visit the Maps page and use the key to select the Layers tab, and then click the eye icon to make Libraries and Study Spaces visible, you can see all our locations across the city!

Screen capture of the interactive campus map. The image shows a map of the central part of the Edinburgh campus with several small icons denoting the locations of campus libraries.

We look forward to seeing you on campus soon!

Note: The Microsoft Sway platform uses moving images in their templates, and each of the above Sways use one moving image at the top of the page. If you require the information in an alternative format please contact us by email: library-academic-support@mlist.is.ed.ac.uk

Things I wish I’d Known: Work, Rest, Play

In my last post I shared six things I wish I’d known sooner about the Library. But there’s more to university life than studying! Even though in the depths of essay season you might feel like you should be paying rent to the Library staff rather than your landlord, when you’re working hard it’s important to remember to rest and play too! So here are five tips for taking care of yourself and enjoying your time at Edinburgh… 

 

1. Get out and about 

An evening swim at Portobello…

Edinburgh is one of the most stunning cities in the UK (I’m not at all biased). It is also one of the greenest cities – with more green space than any of the UK’s other big cities. We literally have a 650-acre Highland-esque landscape ten minutes’ walk from central campus… visit Holyrood Park if you haven’t already! 

If you’re lucky enough to be living in the city during your studies, make the most of it. Grab a few pals and plan a hike up Blackford Hill after a big essay deadline – or a meander through the Meadows after a library session. Maybe even take a cold plunge at Portobello Beach before your morning tutorial. I found getting away from screens and into nature one of the best ways to rest and escape throughout my studies.   Continue reading

What is LibSmart II?

You may have read our recent article about LibSmart I, the foundation of our online information literacy course hosted on Learn. If you haven’t, check it out here.

Where LibSmart I provides a solid start in the library and information landscape, we think that LibSmart II offers a great next step for those a little further in their university career.

Picture of LibSmart digital badges in a wooden picture frame leaning against a wall

Earn digital badges for every module you complete in LibSmart I and II.

So what does LibSmart II offer? 

You can pick and mix from ten subject specific modules to develop knowledge of a wide range of digital resources. You can also learn specialised or advanced digital search techniques and develop the skills to manage your research literature and data effectively. We recommend you complete LibSmart I before moving on to LibSmart II, as you will build on the foundations developed in the first level of the course as you complete each of your chosen modules.

A brief overview of LibSmart II and its learning objectives 

The ten modules which are currently available to study are:

  • Business information
  • Data mindfulness: finding and managing data for your dissertation
  • Digital news sources
  • Digital primary sources and digital scholarship
  • Finding and using digital images
  • Government and Policy Research
  • Health information
  • Legal information
  • Special Collections fundamentals
  • Systematic reviews

We estimate each course will take a maximum of 3 hours to complete, and you can select as many or as few as you like. You’ll earn a digital badge for each module you complete to show off your new achievement!

LibSmart II banner

Ready to get started?

Visit the LibSmart webpage to find out more about how to self-enrol for this course.

If you have any questions or concerns about LibSmart you can contact us via the EdHelp portal.

Things I Wish I’d Known: Graduate Reflections on using the Library

Photo: Paul Dodds

As a recent graduate from Edinburgh, you can imagine I’ve spent the summer reminiscing and reflecting on my time at university. Over my four years studying Geography I spent a lot of time in the Main Library, whiled away hours on DiscoverEd, and thought I had the whole library thing down. Reader, I barely scratched the surface.

For the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to intern with the Academic Support Librarian team at the university. I have found myself learning things about the Library I wish I’d known sooner – and remembering things that I discovered during my studies that made it all a bit easier.  

This blog will cover some ideas for how to get the best out of the Library, where you can go to broaden your reading and research, and things that will make studying easier (*cough* reference manager *cough*). 

So, to save you some time, here are six things I wish I’d known sooner about the Library… Continue reading