As part of Black History Month at the Library, we have trial access to ProQuest Black Studies. Developed with faculty, scholars and librarians, ProQuest Black Studies brings together award-winning content into one destination that can be used for research, teaching, and learning.
ProQuest Black Studies combines primary and secondary sources, including leading historical Black newspapers, archival documents and collections, key government materials, videos, writings by major Black intellectuals and leaders, scholarly journals, and essays by top scholars in Black Studies. Continue reading →
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Dissertation. A word that scares and confuses many students, including me. It seems like a difficult and mysterious concept that most of us must deal with at some point on our academic journey. I have been wondering for a long time if there is any way I can make the whole experience of writing it at least a bit easier and less scary. I must admit that this year’s dissertation festival has provided me with a lot of tools and information to do just that.
During the dissertation festival, I attended three sessions: Introduction to reference managers, Improve your research skills with SAGE Research Methods, and DataLiteracy for Beginners. They were all very informative, both for students currently writing their dissertation, but also for students like me, who are only beginning to think about their dissertation now.
The first event was an overview of four reference managers. I really enjoyed the fact that the presentation did not only cover one reference manager but as many as four. This gave me a chance to get a feel of all of them and choose my favourite one (which, I must admit, has got to be EndNote). The second event covered SAGE Research Methods database, which I was not aware of before, yet I found it to be a very useful resource. The last event I attended emphasized the importance of critical thinking while dealing with various kinds of information, especially the statistics part of it.
I enjoyed all the events a lot! The only thing I would change about these, would it be their form. I prefer to attend in-person events, especially after covid ‘trauma’ that we have all experienced – it would be nice to see all the presenters and attendees offline. But well, one cannot have everything, maybe next time!
Overall, I recommend every student to attend the next edition of the dissertation festival, whether they are in their fourth, third or second year. All events provided me with great tools that I will not only use while writing my dissertation but also other coursework.
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!
The day has finally arrived, the end of my Dissertation Festival Blog series. To recap, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They united to host a series of virtual sessions spanning over two weeks to provide students with the knowledge and resources required to make the most out of their dissertations. The Festival is a fantastic opportunity to learn tips and tricks to help you write, reference and uncover what support is available to you at the University. In this blog series, I review sessions I have attended and share my thoughts.
For my final event, I went subject-specific, as I attended “Engineering Village resources for dissertations” hosted by a staff member from Elsevier. The session began with an explanation of Engineering Village and how it can help with your dissertation. To summarise, Engineering Village is a powerful search platform that provides access to multiple engineering literature databases. These reliable sources range from journals to conference proceedings and trade publications to press articles. It is essentially a one-stop-shop for all things engineering literature. If you are confused about how you could have missed such a powerful platform, don’t worry – you may already be aware of some of the databases found within Engineering Village; these include Knovel, Compendex and Inspec!
During the session, short tutorials of Knovel, Compendex and Inspec were given with their key features highlighted. I found Knovel to be most interesting as the database provides you with the opportunity to search materials’ properties, pulling this numeric data from handbooks, manuals, and databanks so you can access what you need quickly. It also allows you to search for equations and contains tools such as a unit converter and interactive graphs to aid your research.
Screenshot from Knovel website taken to illustrate the Material Property Search feature
Both Compendex and Inspec are comprehensive bibliographic databases of engineering research covering engineering and applied sciences. Compendex is more holistic and is the broadest, most complete engineering database in the world. On the other hand, Inspec provides engineering research information on physics, electrical engineering and electronics, computers and control, production engineering, information technology, and more. Using Engineering Village, you can search both databases simultaneously, ensuring you are getting the most relevant and up to date information.
Thoughts and Conclusion
The session was highly informative and helped me understand how to use the unique search features and specialised Engineering Village tools to improve my research productivity. I believe Engineering Village is a resource relevant to all STEM students or students whose work requires reliable scientific data. For dissertation use, the database can have a range of applications, so it is well worth further inspection. You can directly access Knovel, Compendex and Inspec from the University Library Databases page!
Thank you for reading this blog, and I hope you enjoyed it. Unfortunately, a recorded version of the session is not available, so you have to wait until the next Dissertation Festival to see the event live! However, you can access other Dissertation Festival recordings from a dedicated playlist HERE and read previous blogs in the series HERE and HERE.
It’s time for the second blog! These dissertation festival blogs are an opportunity for me to share my thoughts on the Dissertation Festival Events I have attended. For those who don’t know, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They have shared a series of virtual events to provide students with the knowledge and resources to make the most out of their dissertations or theses. To find out more about the festival, click HERE, and you can see my previous blog HERE.
Hopefully, you should all be aware of the University Library and its associated buildings. Something you may not be conscious of are all the online and offline resources they have on offer. I must admit, even I (a student intern within the Library and University Collections department) am not 100% sure what “RaB” means or that you could easily filter your results on DiscoverEd (see the image below). I learned that and more in the “How to use the Library remotely for your dissertation” event.
How to limit search options on DiscoverEd
The session began by covering the basics of accessing resources. For online materials, that meant a comprehensive tutorial on how to search on DiscoverEd and a discussion as to why you may need to use the University’s VPN to obtain specific resources. Print was a little bit trickier to communicate (understandably), but directions were given to regularly check the Library Services Update page for the latest information in response to Government Guidelines.
For finding resources about a particular research area, Library Databases are a great place to go. They can give you a window into the literature you are interested in and contain specialist resources produced by experts. If you are unsure what you are looking for, the Library has made searching easier as you can browse databases based on by subject or as a complete A-Z list!
Now, I am sure at this point you are wondering what is “RaB”? During the session, I learned that if the Library doesn’t have the book you require, or it is only available as a print version, you can … Request a Book (RaB). It is such an excellent service that I am sure be beneficial for anyone, not only those completing their dissertation. Another valuable service feature offered by the Library are Inter-Library Loans (ILLs) which enable you to request digital copies of articles and book chapters from other libraries!
Thoughts and Conclusion
If I were to summarise this session in just one saying, it would be “It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks”. During the event, I was pleasantly surprised by all the new knowledge I gained, especially about DiscoverEd – a service I have been regularly using over the past 4 years! I was also reminded about other fantastic resources and features supported by the Library, which would help you with your dissertation, thesis, and even general studies!
If you are interested in the session and want to check it out, you can find it HERE!
Thanks for checking out the blog, see you at the next one.
Welcome to the first of three blogs, where I document my Dissertation Festival Experience. For those who don’t know, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They have come together to host a series of virtual sessions spanning over two weeks, providing students with the knowledge and resources to make the most out of their dissertations. Think Tomorrowland, Glastonbury and Coachella but online, free and hosted by the University of Edinburgh. So not quite the same. However, the Dissertation Festival is a fantastic opportunity to learn tips and tricks to help you write, reference and uncover what support is available to you at the University.
The first Dissertation Festival sessionI participated in was titled “What is a Systematic Review dissertation like?”.I decided to attend because I was interested in finding out how systematic reviews (SR) differed from other dissertation types. Luckily, this was thoroughly covered within the presentation.After the first 5 minutes of the event, I was able to explain that the goal of a systematic review; to answer a specific question in a topic area using reproducible review principles.
Slide from Dissertation Festival used to help illustrate where different review approaches sit
Other key points of the session include “The supporting principles of a SR” which highlighted the need for a pre-defined and detailed methodology. This was an important topic for me as I am typically more of a ‘go-with-the-flow type person when writing pieces of work. However, now knowing the aims of an SR, I am confident that is not the best strategy. Instead, you should develop a clear plan (in advance), have an inclusion criterion for studies you are considering, find ways to avoid bias and document all your SR activities.
Thoughts and Conclusion
I would recommend this session for those who are just about to carry out a dissertation or thesis and don’t know where to start. The presentation is designed to help you gain a basic level of understanding a SR and what it entails. For all, you indecisive people out there or those who don’t know what research methodto use, the pros and cons list shown in the presentation can help you evaluate if this is the right research method for you! Throughout the session, there were lots of valuable pieces of advice and information given. There were also signposts for further knowledge items to help you further your understanding in your own time.
If you are interested in the session and want to check it out, you can find it HERE! Thanks for checking out the blog.
When coronavirus restrictions began in March 2020, the University of Edinburgh had to close some libraries and change some library services. But Academic Support Librarians haven’t gone away. We may have been working from home, but we’ve been busy helping students to get the best out of the library. So what have we been doing?
Keeping you updated
From the start of lockdown the Library Academic Support team web editors have maintained the Library Updates page to provide an overview of the library services available to you during coronavirus restrictions.
Helping you to get the books and journals you need
Coronavirus restrictions made it difficult to access the print library collections for your courses. We listened to what you needed and worked with our Library Acquisitions colleagues to purchase new digital versions of texts you could access remotely. We couldn’t get everything we wanted – sometimes publisher prices were just too high (see this reported in the press) and sometimes what you needed simply wasn’t available as a library e-book. But we worked to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on new digital content to meet student needs.
Giving help and advice for your dissertation research
We understand that researching your dissertation during coronavirus restrictions is a huge challenge. We’ve offered you help and advice on your library research by email and, if you needed it, a chance to meet online for a chat, with multiple librarian appointments available every week (we’ve met over two hundred students so far this academic year). Plus, we’ve run online Dissertation Festivals in October 2020 and March 2021 with events highlighting the wealth of digital resources available from the library and beyond to support your dissertation research.
Writing an information literacy online course
We want every student to have the digital skills they need to use online library resources, so they don’t miss out on any of the resources and support that’s available to them. So we’ve written an online course, LibSmart, to help you develop key information literacy skills to navigate the library landscape for your studies and succeed at university.
We’ve delivered over two hundred live information literacy classes to students this academic year, but during coronavirus restrictions we know that you can’t always make it to a class when it’s happening. That’s why we’ve created over a hundred videos, many of them bitesize, so you can find out what you need to know about the library, when you need to know it.
Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian