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.

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!

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

Students’ wellbeing and ways to escape exam

Study spaces in the Veterinary Library.

Study spaces in the Veterinary Library by Zofia Matuszczyk

Yes, exams are important. We know. But we also want you to remember that at the end of the day, it is your wellbeing that is the most important. 

We all know how stressful exams can be and how they can negatively affect our wellbeing. As the Library, we try not only to support you in learning but also to support your wellbeing, especially at these times. Thus, we’ve put together some resources from the Library that you might find helpful when trying to escape your exams for a moment, get some well-deserved rest and gain the energy and strength to continue with your revisions and exams. 

Listen to music 

Did you know the Library offers you access to databases that allow you to listen to millions of songs from pop and rock to classical music? You can check them out here. 

Visit our museum and art collections 

While it’s not always possible to physically visit a museum or gallery, you can still do a lot of exploring of the University collections online. If you, however, have some time to physically go somewhere, we also recommend the National Museum of Scotland or the Scottish National Gallery. Both are free and within the walking distance of George Square! Remember that to visit Scottish National Gallery, you must book a ticket beforehand. 

Enjoy a film or drama performance 

You can access a wide range of TV programmes, documentaries, films, drama, and theatre performances through the Library. Check out what Box of Broadcasts (BoB) has to offer! 

Read some fiction 

Reading may be the perfect escape from your exams. Our databases give you access to millions of positions! 

Meditate 

Meditation is one of the best ways to relax. Have you tried mindfulness or spiritual meditation? Maybe now is the time to do so! 

And if you feel stressed because you cannot get a seat in the main library, make sure to check out the additional study spaces available. 

Zofia Matuszczyk
Communications Officer Intern

The Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery: primary sources

For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were victims of the transatlantic slave trade. And on 25th March every year, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system, while also raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

At the Library we have access to a range of digital resources that give you access to original primary source material from archives around the world that allow you to find out more about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the victims of slavery. These are a few that you might like to explore:

Slavery: supporters and abolitionists, 1675-1865
(also known as Slavery Through Time: from Enslavers to Abolitionists, 1675-1865)

Continue reading

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...
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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