Learn the basic steps of a reference, and you can hit the rhythm with any style you need.
When you are writing a piece of work and you use someone else’s thoughts, words or ideas, you must reference them. But why do we talk about referencing so much at University, and why is it so important? Why should you bother spending time on ensuring that your references are consistent, accurate and correct?
It all comes down to why we reference in the first place:
- To make your contribution clear by showing which words and ideas are yours, and which have come from your reading.
- To acknowledge the work of others and to demonstrate how you have built on the knowledge that you’ve gained from your reading.
- To ensure that the reader can follow up on your references for themselves.
- To avoid being wrongly accused of plagiarism.
Watch our short video to find out a little more about why we should bother with referencing.
Find out more on our Managing Information skills guide.
What are the key steps to a successful routine for referencing? Of all the enquiries we get in the Library, referencing is the most common.
Referencing is the acknowledgement of the sources that you use in your work. You must reference all sources that you use in your assignment, project or dissertation, including words and ideas, facts, images, videos, audio, websites, statistics, diagrams and data.
Over the next two weeks weeks we’re focusing on referencing, giving you the routine for success. As a novice, you might need a little help to understand the steps and techniques for your referencing style.
We’ll tell you where to get advice and help
Understand why we reference and how
How to avoid plagiarism
How to manage your information to make your life easier and assignments less stressful, giving you the routine for success.
After positive feedback from a trial in 2018 we are delighted to announce we now have access to this database.
This platform is based on Birkhäuser’s architecture books, a selection of Birkhäuser manuals and additional analysis Annual updates which add new building types and more contemporary international case studies.
This resources features :
- Over 6000 high quality architectural drawings/ building plans. These are mostly vector-based, drawn to scale and available for download.
- 2500 photos of building types
- 1200 case studies
- Over 900 international projects
- 160 thematic articles providing background information on specific aspects of individual building types e.g. lighting, acoustics, urban considerations, access types or planning processes.
- Types of buildings include: housing, schools, libraries, office buildings, sacred buildings, hospitals, museums, industrial complexes, infrastructure, transport and other building types.
This makes it an excellent choice for both teaching, research and understanding the practice of architectural design.
Search options include :
- Full Text
- Building Types
- Urban Context
You can also browse by grant systematic access to all content according to Building Type, Urban Context and Morphological Type.
This is an important resource for anyone studying building typology or writing architectural design assignments. In nutshell a fantastic online resource covering building types in the last 30 years.
The Search Help document from the resources explains the database’s functions in detail. An overview of the terminology used in the building analysis and the Search and Browse options is available as well.
To access the database, click on the link via Library Search.
Self Care Week is the 18-24th of November. It’s an awareness event that focuses on embedding support for self care across communities, families and generations. We’ve compiled a list of services, resources and recommendations from Newcastle University to help manage your wellbeing and establish positive habits.
Student Health and Wellbeing
Based on Level 2 of King’s Gate, Student Health and Wellbeing work with local and national organisations to help to maximise your academic potential and allow you to have the best possible experience while you’re studying. They offer advice and assistance on many topics, from spiritual support to mental health counselling. You can find self-help resources and information here.
iNCLude is a new free app aimed at helping develop positive behaviours to ensure you’re focussing on more than just academic studies. The app centres on several themes: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give. There’s space to record your feelings in a mood journal and information on campus wellbeing events through your personal feed. To find out more (and download the app) click here.
Silvercloud is a suite of online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) programmes, which can be tailored to your specific needs. It is free and can be accessed anywhere on a PC, tablet or mobile phone. The modules on Silvercloud can be worked through at your own pace and a practitioner from Student Services can help you navigate through the programmes. To start Silvercloud click here.
Be well@NCL is a collection of books designed to help manage and understand common mental health conditions and wellbeing. Reading a book by someone who understands what you’re facing can help you start to feel better. The books within the collection are recommended by professionals and are available to borrow from the Phillip Robinson and the Walton libraries. You can find out more about Be well@NCL here.
The Academic Skills Kit (ASK) helps develop positive study habits, from note taking to exam revision. Visit their website for available support and resources.
Rosie, a Library assistant at the Walton Library, is a fan of the Pomodoro Technique when studying. She says:
“This technique has changed my life! If you are a procrastinator and/or you’re easily distracted, you need to try it – you set a timer on your phone for 25 minutes, work hard on your task for that period and then reward yourself with a 5 minute break. After you’ve done that 4 times, take a longer break.
Breaking work up into chunks with rewards in between means that you get more done than if you try to work non-stop for hours, and it’s easier to start an assignment when you know you only have to work at it for 25 minutes at a time. This technique is better for your stress levels and mental health than beating yourself up for leaving assignments until the last minute.”
We’ve got creative activities available on our Self Care display in the Walton Library. Taking a break from your work to do desk yoga, colouring in or origami is beneficial in the long run – it’ll help you increase focus, retain information and maintain top performance.
There’s a variety of activities on campus you can do while taking a break from studying, for example:
- The department of Fine Art runs a visiting speakers’ programme.
- There are many societies run through the Students’ Union. These are a great way to meet new people and add activities to your diary.
- The Sports Centre offers a range of team activities and exercise classes. These include yoga and pilates, to help manage stress and engage mind and body.
Stacey, a Library assistant at the Walton Library, likes to knit to improve her mental wellbeing. She says:
“The health benefits of knitting have been known for a while. A 2007 study conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute found that knitting lowers heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute and induces an “enhanced state of calm,” as the repetitive movements release serotonin which can lift moods and dull pain.
Knowing this and gaining the ability to watch your toddler running around wearing clothes you’ve made is a wonderful feeling, as if you are covering your loved ones with wool and love – the only downside is cost (and explaining a million times it isn’t just for old ladies!) Knitting gives me that ‘enhanced state of calm’, or the ability not to be totally radgie ALL of the time, which is essential for my wellbeing.”
You’ve ran your information search and looked at your results with a critical eye only to find that they’re not quite working for you – what can you do now?
In this blog we’ll be looking at the top three problems encountered when searching for information and how to improve your search to get the results you need:
Finding too much
If your search has brought back thousands of results and you’re getting overwhelmed with the options:
Search a more specialised resource
Using a subject-specific database will help narrow the focus of your search to your particular areas of interest. Take a look at your Subject Guide to find databases and eBook collections tailored to your subject area.
Make use of the ‘refine’ options usually found on the left-hand side of Library Search or your subject database. Limit your results by date, subject area or information type. Remember, you may need to justify your limits to your supervisor so think carefully about your choices.
Combine search terms with ‘AND’
AND is a Boolean operator, a term you can use to have more control over your search. If you want to find information that must contain two different keywords (or phrases), place a capitalised AND operator between them. Your search engine or subject database will only find information that features both, narrowing your results. The more search terms you combine with AND, the narrower your search will be.
Finding too little
If your search has brought back a handful of useful articles but you need a wider range of results:
Combine terms with ‘OR’
OR is another Boolean operator that helps you to control your search more effectively. Use OR with your search terms that have synonyms or related terms. Your search engine or subject database will find information that features either word or phrase, significantly broadening your results.
Try controlled vocabulary
If you’re not getting enough results, it may be that your search terms or keywords aren’t quite working for you. Controlled vocabulary are a standardised list of words and phrases used on some databases to ensure that searches retrieve all relevant results, even when authors use different terms. Examples of databases that use this technique include ERIC, PsycInfo, CAB abstracts, Compendex and Medline. If these apply to you and your discipline, you’ll find out how to use them on your Subject Guide.
If you’ve found some useful articles, one simple way to find more relevant material is to take a look at the references used by the authors. This will lead you to find older material that was published before your original article which may also be useful. Library Search and some subject databases including Google Scholar and Scopus also allow you to see who has cited the articles you have found in their work (look for the ‘cited by link’). This is called citation searching and allows you to find more up-to-date analysis of your topic. By looking back at the references and forward at the citations, you get a 360 degree view of the research.
Finding nothing useful?
If your search has brought back results that aren’t relevant to your research question or you are finding it difficult to find the right search terms or databases to use, you might find it helpful to book a one-to-one appointment with your Liaison Librarian.
You can also find more help and advice on our Finding Information Guide.
When it comes to finding academic information, there are a few things you need to think about before you start your search, such as where to actually look for information and the types of information you want to find in your search. Another thing that is worth taking the time to think carefully about is keywords.
Keywords, sometimes called subject terms, are simple words and phrases that describe information; you can see them in the item record on Library Search and in Subject Databases.
The results that your search returns are based on this information – if your keywords match an item’s keywords, that item will appear in your results.
To get the best results, then, you’ll need to develop a balanced list of targeted keywords – these keywords may come from your essay title or research question, from your subject knowledge or wider reading – you can even borrow them from the subject terms you find on relevant articles!
As ideas and topics can be expressed in different ways you’ll also need to think about synonyms and terms related to your keywords to make sure you can find all of the relevant information.
To find out more about keywords, synonyms and searching take a look at this short video:
There are some useful tricks you can use with your keywords to save you time when you search, take a look at our Advanced Searching Guide to learn about Boolean, wildcards and truncation!
In our previous blog we explored how looking for information in the right place can help save you time and effort. However, sometimes, the right place to look can depend on what type of information you’re looking for.
While you’re probably familiar with books and you may have been introduced to journal articles, these are just two of the types of academic information available to you. Depending on your research question or essay title you might also find it useful to explore, for example, conference proceedings, maps, company information or newspapers.
Each type of information has its particular use; books provide an in-depth overview of a topic; journal articles are more specialised and focus in-depth on a particular area of a topic, and newspapers give you a useful perspective on events. While Library Search can help you find a large range of information types, some types of information are only available in special databases or archives. Before you start your search, it’s therefore important that you decide what types of information you will need to complete your assignment most effectively. You can find out more about different information types on our Finding Information Guide and in the video below:
When you know which types of information you need for your assignment or project take a look at our Resource Guides, which provide useful links and guides to appropriate sources.
When you’re looking for information to help you write your essays, assignments or projects it can be tempting to turn to the source of information you use every day – Google. While Google can be useful in some ways (such as finding company websites or journal author’s profiles), it wasn’t exclusively designed to help you find good quality, academic information that is reliable and relevant. This means you’ll likely have to spend more of your time wading through huge amounts of information and fact-checking resources for accuracy.
Thankfully, Google isn’t your only option – there are a number of different places to look that have been created with the aim of providing you with the information that you need, such as your reading lists, Library Search, and key Subject Databases.
Take a look at this video to find out more about how these sources can help you:
For more help on finding information, take a look at our Finding Information Guide.
With the high volume of information available to you online when you begin your research, it can be difficult to know which of the sources you find to actually use in your assignments or essays. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose the information that is of good quality and that can help you to answer your research questions most effectively. This means you need to make some critical decisions about the information you have found. Even if the materials you find are from reliable sources, such as Library Search or a Subject Database like Scopus you’ll need to consider how the information you’ve found compares to other information and if it is suitable for your purposes.
To help you make effective critical decisions you’ll need to think about these key areas:
Currency – is the information up-to-date?
Relevance – does it help you answer your research question?
Authority – who wrote it? How qualified are the authors?
Accuracy – how did the authors of the information reach their conclusions? What evidence and data have they used?
Purpose – Why was it written?
The video below looks at these in more detail:
See our Evaluating Information guide for more advice on selecting suitable information for your assignments and for more on the ins and outs of critical thinking take a look at this great blog from the Writing Development Centre: Shopping Around for a Critical Opinion