Dissertation Week Reflection

Dissertation Fair presentation

Dissertation Fair : #WeHaveGreatStuff – Rachel Hosker, Archives Manager and Deputy Head of Special Collections

It’s the final day of our very first Dissertation week at Edinburgh University Library. Here are some reflections and impressions of how it all went.

What we did
Our Dissertation week highlighted over 20 events delivered by the Library Academic Support Team, Research Data Management Team, Centre for Research Collections, Institute for Academic Development and Digital Skills team which could help students make the most of their dissertation experience. With some of these being delivered online, these events were able to reach a wide audience. A Dissertation Week guide https://edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/dissertation supported a timetabled social media campaign and will form a curated collection of the rich range of resources and support. We were able to incorporate student voices into these resources, with the School of LLC supplying a video clip on dissertation tips written by Francesca Triggs, a former LLC student, as well as including ‘Data Mindfulness’ videos by PhD student Candela Espeso Sanchez-Rodilla.

At the heart of Dissertation Week was a brand new Dissertation Fair event, which focused on exploring what library resources are available to support a research question, and managing the bibliographic and research data students find. The stalls at the fair featured not only our University teams but also digital resource suppliers, the National Library of Scotland and National Museums Scotland Libraries. Over 100 staff and student attended the Dissertation Fair and the programme of bookable presentation sessions which accompanied the Fair.

What staff thought
We were pleased that several Dissertation Course Convenors for Schools and Subject areas across the University were able to attend the event and delighted with their obvious enthusiasm. These academic staff spent time talking to Dissertation Fair stallholders and at the staff preview lunch. “Absolutely brilliant” was the comment from a paediatric surgeon who spent at least an hour there. One member of staff had moved his timetabled classes so that his students would be able to attend the Dissertation Fair. Others talked about how they wanted to integrate the event into their future programmes for dissertation students. One commented, “We’d like to be part of a discussion about how we can make as much of this as possible available to our online students”.

What students thought
We had 122 pre-registrations for the Dissertation Fair event which was encouraging, and on the day, students were engaged and enthusiastic. One commented that the most useful part of the event had been “Talking with all the stalls. Found out so many things and places to research I didn’t think about”. Lots of students had positive comments about the presentation sessions which gave in-depth introductions to digital resources.

What we thought
Planning this event, in close collaboration with the Centre for Research Collections and the Research Data Management team, generated a lot of energy and creativity in the Library Academic Support Team. This was rewarded by the successful turnout to events, but even more so by the depth of engagement that we had with visitors to the Dissertation Fair day. One colleague commented, “Of all the student & staff facing events I have been involved in over the years – and there have been many – I felt that we were making a very real impact yesterday.”

What we’ll do next
We received 67 feedback responses from the 171 attendees across all of the Dissertation Fair events on 14 November, and we’ll be taking time to look at these and learn from them. We’d like to run the Dissertation Week and Fair again, potentially in semester 2, 2020. Next time around we think we can make it bigger and better, and we’d like to have greater student involvement in planning and developing Dissertation Week. Watch this space.

If you would like to get in touch about Dissertation Week, please contact Christine Love-Rodgers Christine.Love-Rodgers@ed.ac.uk

Top 5 tips if you’re stuck with your dissertation literature search

Are you stuck with the literature search for your dissertation or final year project? Not finding as much on your topic as you hoped? Here are 5 suggestions to help you move forward.

1. Look again at your search strategy.

By this I mean identifying terminology and keywords – also geographical or date limits for your search . Consider alternative terminology e.g. synonyms, alternative spellings, variant terminology, changes in terminology over time, abbreviations, etc. Increase the number of relevant keywords and you increase the potential of finding good material. Continue reading

How using a reference manager can help you manage the references for your dissertation

Finding literature and gathering references from here, there and everywhere? Don’t want to get to a few days before hand in and realise you don’t have the full details of one (or more) important articles/books/etc., to cite properly? Find typing up your citations and bibliographies time consuming? Well, reference managers may be exactly what you are looking for.

Why do you need to use a reference manager?

When you are collecting information from a variety of sources, it can all overwhelm before you know it!  A reference manager can help you by providing a space to keep all your references in one place. You can both create references manually or import from external source such as database. You then have the option to annotate them and/or keep them in different folder.

It gets better!

When you are working on your dissertation, you can cite your reference in your work as you write. The reference manager will insert the references for you in your particular style, e.g. Harvard, MLA, Chicago, APA, etc., and create your bibliography at the same time. Continue reading

Making the Most of Your Dissertation Week

For the first time at the University of Edinburgh Library we are planning to hold a Dissertation Week in November 11-15 2019. This week is all about how the Library can support the student dissertation experience : from exploring what library resources are available to support a research question, to managing the bibliographic and research data students find. During the week a series of events will highlight the training, support and resources we offer to our undergraduate and taught postgraduate students undertaking their dissertations, as well as staff supervising dissertations.

Dissertation Fair : Thursday 14 November
At the heart of the week will be a Dissertations Fair event on Thursday 14th November, held at the Main Library. We’ll be inviting academic staff supporting student dissertations to a preview of the fair, which will host stalls from digital resource suppliers alongside other stalls run by Library teams including Library Academic Support, Research Support and the Centre for Research Collections. Running alongside will be a programme of presentation sessions on library services and digital resources. In the afternoon, the event will be open to undergraduate and postgraduate students to attend.