Resolving to reference in 2023

Whether you’re the type of person who makes New Years resolutions or not, we hope you’ll consider resolving to get comfortable with referencing this year. We have lots of resources available to help you with citations in your assignments, and we know it’s something many students struggle with and so can often leave to the end of their work. Some top tips for getting ahead of the referencing panic:

  1. Record the information you read as you go. You can do this using a reference manager, bookmarking tools in your browser or DiscoverEd, or good old pen and paper. Whatever method you’re comfortable with, starting off with good organisation will help you down the line.
  2. Leave more time than you think you’ll need. Do you usually give yourself a day or two before the assignment deadline to sort references? Double it! Triple it! Build in contingency time for writing up and correcting references – and for asking for help if you need it – and if you end up not needing all that time then submit early and then reward yourself with a treat for being ahead of the game!
  3. Be consistent. There are lots of referencing styles out there (you may already be familiar with Harvard, APA, Chicago, OSCOLA), but whichever one you use for your work, be consistent in how you reference. Make sure you have all the component parts of each type of reference and then style them in the same way each time – this helps you spot when information is missing as well as looking good.
  4. Use the tools available to you. This includes reference managers like Endnote, Zotero and Mendeley (or any others!), or even ‘quick’ citation engines like ZoteroBib or Cite This For Me. We highly recommend you use Cite Them Right Online which is a database we subscribe to for all staff and students to use – it will show you how to construct references for every type of material in a huge range of styles. Not sure how to reference a personal email, a blog post or a youtube clip? Use Cite Them Right to check! NOTE: Please make sure you check any reference that is created by a citation tool, as they are not guaranteed to be accurate.
  5. Get help in plenty of time! Still feeling lost at sea? We’ve got training sessions on the MyEd booking system and also recordings on Media Hopper (click on ‘174 media’ below the title card for the full list of videos) designed specifically to help you. There’s also part of the LibSmart online information literacy course dedicated to the basics of referencing, and we have a whole subject guide on the topic. If all else fails, contact your Academic Support Librarian and ask for a one-to-one appointment where we can sit down with you and work through the problems you’re facing.

Do you have any top tips for referencing? We’d love to hear them, you can leave them in the comments or tweet us @EdUniLibraries

E-Resources trials from the library

Welcome back to all staff and students! This blog has been a bit quiet of late due to high workload and some understaffing in our team, but we wanted to start off the new year with some good news and thought we’d alert everyone to some of the excellent e-resource trials we have going on!

Did you know?
Before the library subscribes to a new database we often arrange for a trial free of charge and link them on the E-Resources Trials page. We then ask anyone who’s tested the resource out to fill in a short feedback form to let us know their thoughts so we can decide how useful it will be for our users. Some of the trials we have ongoing at the moment are listed below.

Radical Irish Newspaper Archives

Radical Irish Newspaper Archives is an extraordinary collection of over 115 Irish radical and political newspapers, journals, pamphlets and bulletins. Fully searchable and consisting of more than 11,000 editions with a total page count of 102,755 these newspapers, according to Dr Ciarán Reilly of Maynooth University, ‘hold the key to understanding Ireland in the turbulent decades of the early twentieth century’. Spanning one of the most important periods in Irish history, from the Home Rule debates of the 1880s to Ireland on the eve of the Second World War, these somewhat obscure titles provide an insight into a myriad of opinions on Irish life.

Trial access until: 08/01/2023 (so have a look this weekend!) 


SAGE Research Methods: Doing Research Online

This new multimedia collection has been designed to support novice or experienced social science researchers who are conducting research online. Whether conducting their first or their hundredth study online, users will find support to employ a variety of digital methods from online surveys, interviews to digital ethnography, social media, and text analysis, as well as learn how to manage, store and archive digital data. Privacy and other ethical considerations specific to conducting research online are also covered. Researchers will also get support with how to navigate the challenges of being supervised online.

Content & Features:

  • ‘How to Guides’ (providing practical help with using digital research methods);
  • Videos (tutorials, expert interviews, video case studies, etc.);
  • Case studies (focused on challenges of designing and conducting research online);
  • Teaching sets of data with a guide (suggesting a method to analyze both digitally created and existing online data, plus a step-by-step guide to how to do it so that students can practice data analysis);

Trial access until: 26/02/2023.


Archives of Sexuality and Gender: International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture

Archives of Sexuality and Gender: International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture examines diversity in underrepresented areas of the world such as southern Africa and Australia, highlighting cultural and social histories, struggles for rights and freedoms, explorations of sexuality, and organizations and key figures in LGBTQ history. It insures LGBTQ stories and experiences are preserved. Among many diverse and historical 20th century collections, materials include: the Papers of Simon Nkoli, a prominent South African anti-apartheid, gay and lesbian rights, and HIV/AIDS activist; Exit newspaper (formerly Link/Skakel), South Africa’s longest running monthly LGBTQ publication; Geographic Files, also known as “Lesbians in…” with coverage from Albania to Zimbabwe; and the largest available collection of digitized Australian LGBTQ periodicals.

NB The Library has purchased access to three other modules of the Archives of Sexuality and Gender database – these can be found on the A databases page.

Trial access until: 12/07/2023.


We actually have TWELVE trials currently running at the moment. You can find out more on the E-Resources Trials page of the library website, where we have links and descriptions for all items as well as a link to the feedback form (login required).

If there’s a resource you’d like us to get a quote and trial for, please let us know by contacting the relevant librarian for your subject area.

Join the L&UC Journal Club!

Part of the professional development we’re involved in as library staff includes attending conferences and reading journals relevant to our profession. Recently the ASL team realised that we don’t have dedicated time in our schedules to get to grips with issues facing libraries at the moment, and so we decided to resurrect the L&UC Journal Club! We’d like to invite our colleagues from across Library & University Collections to join us to discuss articles and developments in libraries and information sectors at regular meetings throughout the year.

Are you a member of Library and Universities Collections staff interested in keeping up to date with issues and events in the Library and Information sector, but struggle to make time for professional development? Would you like to prioritise improving your academic discussion skills and network with colleagues from across L&UC?

We will alternate online and in-person meetings from November, and have a rotating chair and moderator system so everyone gets the chance to suggest articles and lead discussion. Our first meeting will be on Wednesday 23rd November 2022 at the Digital Scholarship Centre in CRC, Main Library. We’ll be discussing What Academics Really Think About Information Literacy by D. Stebbings et al.

If you fancy joining us or finding out more, search for L&UC Journal Club on Teams or contact Christine Love-Rodgers or SarahLouise McDonald.

Notebooks and a coffee mug sitting on a desk, indicating work or study.

Have you heard about LibSmart?

We’re midway through the first semester now, and many students will have settled into the routine of lectures, seminars and practical class preparation. You may even be thinking ahead to the end-of-module deadlines moving ever closer, and beginning to consider how to research and write assignments. For some students this can be stressful or confusing as they realise they don’t really know where to start with looking up resources to back up their work. Don’t panic though, we’ve got you!

Promotional image for LibSmart: Your Library Research Starts Here. Text reads 'take your digital and information literacy skills to the next level using self-enrol courses LibSmart I and II.

Enter, LibSmart! This is our online information literacy course which you can access via Learn at any time throughout your studies. It’s self-enrol and open to absolutely everyone, and will provide you with a great grounding in how to access resources online and via the library, and how to reference your research correctly. There’s five modules in LibSmart I and although we recommend you work through them all, you can dip in and out of the bits you feel you need a bit of help with.

If you’ve completed that, you may find that you want to go a step further. In that case, check out LibSmart II which has ten modules on a variety of different topics all designed to help you get to grips with a specific focus. Unlike LibSmart I we don’t ask you to work through all the modules here, just pick ‘n’ mix your favourites! You might be interested in health information and systematic reviews, or legal information and government and policy research. Maybe you’re unsure of what’s in our Special Collections and you’d like to explore that more fully. Students who’ve completed these modules before have said that they’re extremely useful and relevant to their work.

If this sounds interesting to you, you can find out more on the LibSmart webpage. Remember you can access LibSmart any time you like throughout the year, and for each module you complete you get a digital badge!

There’s a video here on how to self-enrol in case you’re unsure of the steps. Hope to see you in LibSmart soon!

screengrab of opening scene of video demonstration for how to enrol on libsmart. Image is hyperlinked to the video hosted on Media Hopper.

Welcome! Key library resources for 2022/23

It’s been a bit quiet here on the ASL blog for the past couple of months and that’s because August and September are always spent preparing for the start of the new semester. Now that we’re well underway we’ve been busy doing inductions and welcome sessions to highlight some of our excellent services to new and returning students. In case you’ve missed any of the vital information we like you to have, here are some helpful links!


Library pages: You can find loads of helpful information about our services and library sites here. Look for opening hours, information on borrowing, and how to request resources here.

DiscoverEd: what we call a ‘library discovery tool’ is really what you might call the library catalogue. Look here for readings and research or just to explore the library collections! There’s a great guide on using DiscoverEd here. It’s a Microsoft Sway document but if you need a more accessible version please get in touch with us.

Resource Lists: online reading lists to help you find the core material for classes. Your course organisers have curated these to make sure you can easily access what you need. This link will take you to guides and videos for using Resource Lists too.

Library Subject Guides: these are curated pages of information that our team make up to help you with your studies. There are guides available for a huge range of subject areas and topics of interest.

LibSmart: this is our online information literacy course that you can enrol on any time throughout your time at University. We know not everyone comes to uni feeling confident about finding information, especially online, so this course has been built to guide you through some foundation skills. Follow the five modules in LibSmart I to help you get used to finding information and using the library’s collections, and dip in and out of LibSmart II’s modules on any subject that interests you!


These are just some of our top tips to help you get started during your time at the University of Edinburgh, but if you have questions at any time you can contact our team of librarians to help you get what you need. There’s a list of who deals with each subject on our website so please do get in touch, or leave us a comment on this post.

Check in with our blog regularly as we’ll be posting throughout the year about the upcoming Dissertation Festival, top features of LibSmart, new training sessions we offer, and much more!

Recordings of Lunchtime Seminars: Decolonising and Diversifying the Library

Our recent post on Decolonising and Diversifying the Library introduced the short seminar series the ASL team ran during lunchtimes in July. We’re delighted to be able to follow up that post with the news that recordings of all three sessions have now been added to Media Hopper. Please use the links below to access the videos:

Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading ListsOpening slide from Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading Lists presentationSupporting Diversity using the ECA Artists Book and Zine CollectionsTitle slide from session on 'supporting diversity with the ECA library artists books & zines collections'

Diversifying your Reading List from a Student PerspectiveTitle slide for session on Diversifying your Reading from a Student Perspective.

For more information on these sessions or if you have ideas for what you’d like to see in future lunchtime seminars, please contact us by email or leave us a comment.

Lunchtime seminars: Decolonising and Diversifying the Library

We held our first of three Decolonising and Diversifying the Library lunchtime seminars last week, on the topic of Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading Lists. The recording (39 minutes) has been uploaded and is now available on our Media Hopper Channel.

Opening slide from Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading Lists presentation

We’ve got two more sessions scheduled in this mini series, starting with tomorrow’s look at Supporting diversity through the ECA Library Zine collection and Artists Books collection with Academic Support Librarian Jane Furness. Join Jane at 1pm on Thursday 14th July to hear about the ECA Library artists’ books and zines collections and the ways in which they celebrate the diversity of makers working in these fields today. Book using this link to the MyEd booking system.

The following week we have a special showcase of the work of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Digital Engagement intern, Tristan Craig: Diversifying your Reading from a Student Perspective : Digital Engagement (EDI) Internship Showcase

Promoting the use of a diverse range of sources has several pedagogical benefits. It encourages students to become more autonomous learners by going beyond their reading lists and to think critically about the types of sources they’re engaging with. It also prompts them to consider the historical biases inherent in the dissemination of knowledge and look for a variety of voices to conduct more balanced research.

In this presentation Tristan will reflect upon his experiences and discuss how staff can support students to become confident in finding and using diverse sources. To book for this session on Thursday 21st July at 1pm, use this link to the MyEd booking system.

For more information on these sessions or if you have ideas for what you’d like to see in future lunchtime seminars, please contact us by email or leave us a comment. 

LILAC 2022: Being Better Teachers

In our third and final post about the LILAC conference (you can find part one here and part two here) I wanted to touch on the topic of becoming better teachers. Although there was so much to take in from the conference – as you’ll have read from Ruth and Christine’s posts – one of the most impactful things I learned from the sessions was that the work we do is so important and impactful on our students, and it’s in all of our best interests that we consider that we have a powerful role to play in teaching.

The session I attended on the topic of Students, academic reading and information literacy in a time of COVID really reminded me that there can be a marked difference in the information we think our students want, and what they actually want. The panellists explored the results of the Academic Reading Format Information Study (D Mizrachi, 2021) which shows that over 70% of students prefer to use print books for academic study, with only 8.7% preferring ebooks. A later examination of student trends during the pandemic showed that 73% of students who responded in the US would not complete all their prescribed readings for their course due to their availability online. These results surprised and somewhat concerned us, particularly as many institutions operate on an e-first policy for library acquisitions now. If students don’t want ebooks, are we doing them a disservice by putting such emphasis on online access? Do we need to communicate and provide better training in order to help make these resources more accessible? Ultimately these questions could be answered by working more directly with students and not making assumptions about what information needs they have.

There were also inspiring sessions to encourage us to continue to develop as professionals ourselves, because by allowing ourselves time to write and research and read more about developments in our profession, we not only share the student experience with those we teach but we also develop better praxis for ourselves. All three of our academic support librarian delegates attended the Getting Your Writing Groove Back workshop run by the Journal of Information Literacy representatives, and I think all of us found it both fun and instructive. As a result we’ve already restarted the L&UC Journal Club, and look forward to building research and writing further into our current workplace activities in the future.

Slide from Getting Your Writing Groove Back presentation. Slide is entitled 'Myths about writing' with a picture of a stuffed unicorn on the left. Full slide content is available via the LILAC Conference website.

Slide from Getting Your Writing Groove Back presentation, by the team from the Journal of Information Literacy.

My final thought on becoming better teachers as librarians is that we need to seek out recognition of the work we’re already doing. The fact is that many library workers don’t consider themselves teachers, but by attending this conference I was able to hear many people from around the country talk about the impact their work has, and it reminded me that we’re already doing lots of this. Whether it’s creating subject guides or video demonstrations of resources, writing web content or blogs to help highlight useful databases, or directly providing instruction in front of hundreds of students, we are teachers too.

Ruth already spoke about the inspiring words of Marilyn Clarke and Emily Drabinski, but I must return to their keynotes as they both drove home the point for me. Libraries are important and library workers have influence. We must be intentional in the work we do. We have the power to affect great change in the lives of our students and our institutions, whether it’s including a range of examples in our work to help our students feel like they belong in their classes, or challenging them to find a wider variety of voices beyond their prescribed reading. We are supporting their learning and we need to recognise the power we have in order to use it to be the best teachers we can be.

SarahLouise McDonald
Academic Support Librarian

sarahlouise.mcdonald@ed.ac.uk

LILAC 2022: Power structures in library and information services

Geese wandering freely alongside a canal in manchester.

Geese and goslings on Rochdale canal

Last month, three of our Academic Support Librarians team attended the LILAC conference. LILAC is a conference for librarians and information professionals who teach information literacy skills, are interested in digital literacies and who want to improve the information seeking and evaluation skills of library users. You may have seen our previous post about LILAC 22 here.

Much of the conference covered issues of critical information literacy, including long and slightly intimidating words such as critical pedagogy and decolonisation, and it was great to have the space to explore what these mean.

Keynote speaker Marilyn Clarke, Director of Library Services at Goldsmiths, University of London, spoke on Decolonisation as a means to creating an equitable future.

Keynote speaker Marilyn Clarke and chair Elizabeth Brookbanks sit beneath a screen with Manchester 2022 and a bee logo projected onto it.

Marilyn Clarke with discussion chair Elizabeth Brookbank at LILAC 2022.

Marilyn clarified succinctly the difference between decolonising and diversifying library collections; diversifying ≠ decolonising, we need to ask the question why are these voices underrepresented?

She highlighted fantastic work at Goldsmiths to dismantle Eurocentric structures in the library and university, including funds for the ‘Liberate My Degree’ collection set aside for student book purchase suggestions to address gaps in the library collection. At the University of Edinburgh we have the Student Request a Book service which empowers students to request purchase of books and other resources to be added to the Library collections.

When cataloguing their Zines collection, librarians gather suggestions for keywords (used as a finding aid in the catalogue) from the authors themselves, to ensure the language used is representative. This is not just about addressing race, but also other systemic oppression such as LGBTQ+ and class.

In the final keynote of the conference, Emily Drabinski, Critical Pedagogy Librarian at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, explored how information literacy can reveal and challenge structures of power, and equip our students with tools to recognise and understand power dynamics.

By power, this mean the ability to change things, do things, influence things – we all have power in different ways and different situations. As librarians who help people find, use and understand information, we need to take societal values and power structures into account.

For example, who designed this database? With whom in mind? What is included in the database and what isn’t, and who makes those decisions? That feeling, where you get no results from a search, or too many, or their wrong – that’s not you, that’s the way the system is constructed with power.

Myself, I will be doing more to incorporate discussions of power into my teaching. It’s something I do when teaching literature searching for Systematic Reviews in medicine and biomedical sciences (these aim to find and synthesise all clinical evidence on a topic), where comprehensive searches and minimising bias are a core foundation of the review methodology – and as such, knowing what is included in a database, and crucially what is excluded, is crucial. But we can introduce this criticality earlier in students’ academic careers. I am not sure yet what that will look like exactly, but it’s exciting to consider.

Ruth Jenkins, Academic Support Librarian

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/rm-and-consultancy/academic-support-librarians

Dissertation Festival: Exploring library resources for dissertations in gender studies

As part of the 2022 Dissertation Festival, running from 7th-18th March and facilitated by the Academic Support Librarians, Digital Skills and IAD teams, I was invited to attend an online event exploring how to make the most out of resources related to Gender Studies in your dissertation. A recording of the event is available to watch (42 minutes):
Opening slide from the presentation on 'exploring library resources for dissertations in gender studies'. Image includes the University crest offset on the right hand side, and the title of the presentation on the left of the image.

Beginning your search with Subject Guides 

Throughout my time as both a Digital Engagement Intern within Library & University Collections and an undergraduate student, I’ve become aware of just how valuable the virtual Subject Guides are for beginning your research, whatever your field of study. The Gender Studies Subject Guide provides access to databases, journals, periodicals, bibliographies and so much more, as well as initiatives and research projects conducted at the university. 

Going beyond DiscoverEd 

Of course, DiscoverEd is a fantastic tool for navigating the rich resources available through the university, and this event was a great reminder than you can improve the scope of your searches further through Boolean operators and considering the terminology you use. Although the terms we use around gender and sexuality have progressed, it’s worth recognising archaic terms, particularly when accessing historical databases. This event also highlighted the new Yewno service which allows you to build visual maps through cross-referencing keyword searches across library databases. All you need to do to access it is log-in via your institution and there are lots of handy instructional videos to help you get started! 

Accessing the Centre for Research Collections 

The second half of the event discussed some of the collections held by the university, including the Lothian Health Service Archive which contains a wealth of health-related material. A key takeaway for me was in recognising the multidisciplinary nature of Gender Studies and how much material is available in other historical archives and databases. I was a bit daunted about accessing the Centre for Research Collections at first but having a clear idea of what you’re looking for and using the support materials available online will help you get the most of it the rich resources within them. 

Whatever your topic, the Dissertation Festival has a wide range of online events which will help you get the most out of the resources available to you. 

Tristan Craig 
Digital Engagement Intern (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion)