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)  

 

Training with the ASL team

A laptop is placed, open, on a table in a living space. Next to the laptop is a notebook with pen on top. Visible on the laptop screen is the message 'Join us online'.

Image by Samantha Borges, from Unsplash.

A large part of the work that the Academic Support Librarian team complete relates to training and providing Information Skills guidance, whether that’s in our individual schools or sessions which are open to all. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll already know about LibSmart, our online information skills course, but did you also know about some of the other training on offer?

Have you heard about Library Bitesize? 

These short introductory sessions deal with a range of topics that we think will provide a good foundation in areas our students need to know about. They’re 30 minutes long and are run by ASLs and the Digital Skills team to help you get more information about skills and resources you might need to support your studying. While they’re aimed at beginner level and are particularly appropriate for Undergraduates, we think these are of use to students at any level of study. Just some of the topics include:

  • Building complex searches for systematic reviews
  • Choosing a reference manager
  • Finding historical documents online
  • How to reference and avoid plagiarism
  • Introduction to copyright
  • Introduction to resources for film studies
  • Introduction to China-related information resources

For more information on upcoming sessions and information on how to register, visit the Digital Skills Resource Finder and search for ‘Bitesize’, or view the upcoming sessions directly on the MyEd Event Booking System.

We also record these sessions and upload them to our Media Hopper channel. You can view a playlist of past sessions here.


What if you need more in-depth training?

If you’re looking for advanced training sessions, you may be interested in our collaboration with the Institute for Academic Development. Together we run longer sessions which are usually attended by postgraduate students, though undergraduates are welcome too! These are themed around research and referencing. For example:

We also run ‘Getting the best out of the library’ sessions for PGT and PGR students at the start of term, and are part of the IAD’s mid-semester welcome event for postgraduate students. For more information visit the IAD’s Postgraduate pages.


If training sessions don’t work for you, what about a one-to-one appointment? 

All our ASLs offer individual appointments to help students address specific questions about their work or research. A range of appointments are available via the MyEd Event Booking System – search for ‘literature search clinic’ to find available appointments with librarians from each college, or find the subject area specific to your needs.

Alternatively you can contact us directly by locating the ASL which works with your subject area. There’s more information about the one-to-one appointment system here.

We hope that with all these options for training available you will find something useful to support your studies. If we don’t offer a suitable session for your preferred learning style, why not get in touch with us to discuss?

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.

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 

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

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.

Critical Approaches to Libraries 2021(CALC) Day 2

It is once again Conference Season, where academic librarians would usually be collecting a variety of colourful lanyards, discussing who had the best snacks with mid-morning coffee and which exhibitors had the best swag. It’s a great time to network with colleagues from other institutions or sectors, and to make new contacts and finally put a face to the name of those twitter accounts. However, as we rounded the bend on a year of online working, we’ve all become quite well versed in the pivot to not only online teaching but also online events. Although we’re used to communicating through a screen – and the related Zoom Fatigue – CALC was an event to get excited about. The speaker list was diverse and exciting. The topics felt relevant to the work we’re doing, or want to be doing. The days looked well thought out and not too overwhelming. The ethics of the conference organisation included an optional additional fee to allow the organisers to provide bursary places free of charge to those from marginalised backgrounds.
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A guide to subject guides

One of the key parts of our role as librarians is to help staff and students find the things they need to complete their work. One way in which we do this is to create subject guides, which are like mini websites which collate all kinds of useful links and information we think will be helpful to those working and studying at the University.

You can find a full list of the subject guides we’ve made here, but some of our most popular during 2020-2021 have been the guides for Law, Business, East Asian Studies, English Literature and Engineering. As you’ll see from this list we have guides dedicated to each School and sometimes very specific guides which deal with subjects within those schools.

However we’ve also created guides which we believe are helpful resources for all students in any subject. For example our Exam and Revision guide is aimed at any student looking for top tips and news on the help that’s available from the library and university services to help make their studying more successful.

A screen capture of the Exams and Revision subject guide

Our Dissertation Festival guide contains loads of useful resources for students based on the events that took place in our recent Dissertation Festival (March 2021). Check it out if you’re looking for advice on how to get started with your dissertation research, or are interested in finding out more about some of the collections available from our library suppliers. Just like a face-to-face event you can also pick up your Festival Bag from this page, jam-packed with videos, information and helpful tips. You’ll hear more about the Dissertation Festival from one of our student interns in the coming weeks so watch this space!

Over the summer we’re working on guides relating to Disability and Open Resources which will be published in the coming months.

Did you know we take requests?
If you think that there’s a previously untapped topic we should make a guide for, please let us know by leaving a comment on this post or emailing your Academic Support Librarian using the links on this page. We’d love to hear from you!

SarahLouise McDonald, Academic Support Librarian