Tips for creating your study space

Many of us are studying and working in unusual spaces at the moment, which can make it more challenging to concentrate or find our motivation. Procrastination may be a familiar struggle, and creating a space, both physical and online, in which to be your most productive is something that many of us in the Library and Writing Development Centre have also found challenging. It may not always be possible, but creating a managed space to study in will help. So what are our tips for creating the perfect study space at home?

1. Select your space

If it is possible, designate a space as your study environment. It may be your room in a shared house, the kitchen table, office, dining room or in the case of one of my colleagues, a spot in the hallway. Wherever you choose, claim it and make it yours in order to reduce distractions from those you live with and to create a studying mindset.

Within our team, many of us have found it invaluable to have a ‘work space’ which is separate from the rest of our life and spaces in which we relax. Even if this is simply a cheap desk in your bedroom as it is for me, having a ‘study spot’ which is dedicated to your academic work will help you create structure and routine, and feel in the studying zone. It also makes for less embarrassment when you turn your camera on in Zoom or Teams.

Photograph of desk with laptop and screen.
Emily’s desk on a rare tidy day.

2. Make it comfortable

While it may be tempting to study from your bed (which I certainly did as a postgraduate), sitting upright will help you stay alert during synchronous and non-synchronous teaching sessions. Not to mention the benefits for your shoulders, back and neck. Start with a desk or table if you can, as it will allow you to make an organised space and leave your hands free to take notes.

It’s also worth thinking about how you can make the space more comfortable by opening a window for fresh air every so often, and the level of natural light you can introduce. Perhaps think about studying earlier in the day so that the natural brightness helps you stay alert and boosts your mood.

3. Tidy space, tidy mind

Now this is a tip that I will admit to needing to heed myself. A cluttered study space can make it more difficult to focus and introduce unwanted distractions. By filing away your notes and de-cluttering your space at the end of a day, you will be able to start the next day fresh and able to find the learning materials you need.

This goes for your online spaces too. Think about how and where you keep your assignments, notes and any materials you download from Canvas, to ensure you are able to access the materials as you prepare assignments or revise for exams. Set up folders in One Drive that relate to each module or project you are working on and be sure to keep track of any collaborative work, such as projects in Teams. Managing the information you collect as you study and keeping it organised in some way is an essential study skill. Visit the Managing Information Guide for more tips.

Student studying on laptop on the sofa

4. Gather some stationary

It’s a simple tip, but keep a pen and paper nearby so that you can make quick notes. This might be jotting down an idea or something to remind yourself about at a later date. Many of you will take your notes digitally and may have a tablet you use within your programme, but having a notebook and pen to hand is a valuable backup. If you prefer handwritten notes, make sure you have a good organisational system so that you are able to retrieve the information you need.

You’ll find lots of useful tips around notetaking on the ASK website.

5. Listen to some music

Some of you may find studying in silence works best for you, but for me, I need a little background noise to block out the distractions around me. Select a soundtrack for your study that helps you concentrate, with a mixture of mood boosting tracks and songs that are a little more mellow and calming. You’ll find lots of readymade study playlists on streaming services, or you could start with our Library Spotify playlists.

6. Switch off your devices

I’m sure many of us will recognise our mobile phone as a significant source of distraction and cause of many unproductive minutes. Switch off your mobile phone, log out of social media accounts on your study device and turn off the TV. This will help you create designated study time as well as space. It will also be a step towards introducing breaks in your study routine.

7. Take breaks

Taking regular breaks and walking away from your study space will help you return feeling refreshed. Why not download the iNCLude App? It has been designed to help you take small steps to improve and maintain your wellbeing, by creating positive habits and helping you focus on more than just your academic studies.

One valuable bonus tip from the WDC about taking breaks:

When you break, take a moment to leave a ‘note to future self’ about where you got to or what you were intending to do next.

Writing Development Centre, Managing Time and Motivation
Student studying with laptop and notebook.

8. Be organised

Learning remotely is challenging when you don’t necessarily have a structured timetable of lectures, seminars, labs and classes, but have to manage your own time and motivation. Being organised and creating your own plan or timetable can help.

The WDC have created some great guides, podcasts and videos with tips that might help, including creating structure and routine, studying in short bursts and how to motivate yourself.

When you begin your study session make sure you have everything you need to hand so that you don’t interrupt your flow. I frequently wish I’d had the sense to put my laptop charger nearby.

Our mobile apps and resources guide also includes some suggestions for apps that can help you be more organised and boost your productivity.

Visit the ASK website for more study and academic skills advice.

Trial: Springer Protocols

We have temporary trial access to Springer Protocols from now until 1st May 2021.

Springer Protocols is a collection of ebook series, including the world’s largest online database of biomedical and life science protocols, comprising:

  • Methods in Molecular Biology
  • Methods in Molecular Medicine
  • Neuromethods
  • Springer Protocols Handbooks
  • Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Methods in Biotechnology

Springer Protocols offers researchers access to up to 30 years’ worth of time-tested, step-by-step protocols for immediate use in their labs. Building on the heritage of the Methods in Molecular Biology series and content from other quality resources, researchers can be sure that whichever protocol they choose, it will be the most reliable and accurate technique.

What are the key features of Springer Protocols?

  • Access to over 58,000 protocols, growing rapidly
  • Covering cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, neuroscience, immunology, pharmacology, plant sciences and more
  • Based on tried and tested resources including Methods in Molecular Biology
  • Springer Nature Experiments interface connects researchers with the most relevant protocols quicker, allowing you to refine your search by technique, organism and cell line

Explore Springer Protocols on and off campus, logging in with your Newcastle University username and password as prompted, until 1st May 2021.

Please send any comments on how this resource supports your research, teaching or study, or any queries, to your Liaison team.

Top tips for tackling online assessments

Woman throwing books up in the air

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Even in a ‘normal year’, exam time is always a tricky period. You will often be juggling different exams, trying to revise, as well as meeting other deadlines. This year, it’s made even harder by Covid-19 and the need to take online assessments, rather than traditional exams. This may come in the form of a 24 hour take home exam or you may need to produce coursework under time constraints. Whatever you are facing in the next few weeks, we want you to know that you aren’t alone and we are here to help you through.

But how exactly can we help? Sadly, we can’t do the exam with you, or magically freeze time to give you more hours in the day, but we have a list of resources that will hopefully help you tackle the next few weeks with more of a sense of calm.

  1. Online Assessment guidance – put together by the Writing Development team, these pages will take you through how to revise for a 24 hour take home exam, what to do before hand, as well as running you through exam technique and how to tackle coursework under time restraints.
  2. Library Help – whether you have a question about an essential text or access to a database, Library Help is the place to go when you have a question. Contact us via chat, email, text, twitter, Facebook or alternatively search our Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) database.
  3. Subject guides – these guides, put together by your Liaison Librarians, are designed to save you time and energy by drawing together the main resources for your subject. They are a great starting point for your research and will help you access high quality information that’s needed for you to get those top marks.
  4. Skills guides – similar to the subject guides, our skills guides focus on how to find, evaluate and manage information. These are all essential skills which you will need during this assessment period, as well as throughout your degree.
  5. Book a one to one – both the Writing Development Team and the Liaison Librarians are available for an online one to one appointment. These appointments work best if you come with a specific issue to address. This will ensure that you get the most our of your time with us. You will need to book in advance.
  6. Additional support – it really is ok to ask for help. The pressures are real and can feel completely overwhelming. Do contact your module leader or supervisor if your struggling. You can also seek additional support from your NUSUStudent Wellbeing ServiceNightline and the University chaplaincy.

So good luck. Remember……pace yourself, access the help you need and believe that you can do this!

Elsevier’s Clinicalkey Student

Getting Started

Elsevier’s Clinicalkey Student gives you electronic access to some of the most popular recommended clinical textbooks plus lots of other really useful resources including images and video. Subjects covered include medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. It allows you to add a book to your own Bookshelf, highlight text, add notes, create flashcard, make presentations and more. All of which is described below with videos to watch.

All of the eBooks available from Elsevier’s Clinicalkey can be found individually by searching for them on Library Search. To search or browse the collection go to Library Search and search for Clinicalkey.

To Login

To find out how to login and search for a book follow the instruction below or watch this video to get started.

  • Click on Log in via your institution on the right hand side
  • In the Institution search box type Newcastle University
  • Login using your University Username and Password

You are now ready to search for content either:

  • a book by title, author or keyword
  • a subject keyword for any content e.g. book, chapter, video available

Using the Bookshelf

To find out how to use the Bookshelf follow the instruction below or watch this video to get started.

To add a book to the Bookshelf you need to be within the content of a chapter. Search for the book by title, author or keyword

  • Click View book TOC
  • Click on the chapter you want
  • Click Add to Bookshelf on right hand side
  • If you want to see the book on your bookshelf, click Launch Bookshelf
  • If you click on the Home option this will show you all the books you have added to your Bookshelf
  • Once you have added to your Bookshelf you can go straight to it from the homepage by clicking on Bookshelf

For more details on using the Bookshelf watch this video.

Highlighting and Saving Text

When you are within the text of a chapter you can highlight any part to save it as a note for later. See instructions below and for more detail watch this video on Highlighting and Saving text.

  • Highlight the text you want to save
  • Select either green or yellow to highlight the colour
  • Give the note a name to show what it is

To look at all your notes click on the Notepad option on the left of the screen.

Creating Flashcards

When you are within the text of a book you can highlight any part to create a Flashcard. See instructions below and for more detail watch this video on Creating Flashcards.

  • Highlight the text you want for the front of the flashcard
  • Choose an existing Deck or a New Deck and Create it
  • Highlight and select Copy to get the text for the back of the card – Paste this text into the card
  • Save the card
  • You can create as many decks as you want and as many cards you want in each deck
  • By clicking on the Play button in the top right hand corner of the deck you can run through the cards to test your knowledge

Creating Presentations

You can share the latest evidence-based information with colleagues by exporting images with their citation and copyright information into a PowerPoint presentation.

See instructions below and for more detail watch this video on Creating Presentations

  • Search or Browse for an image
  • Click the Add to Presentation link at the bottom of the image
  • Select an Existing Presentation from the drop down menu
  • Click Add

OR

  • Click Create a New Presentation
  • Give it a name in the Presentation Name box
  • Click Add

Download the presentation and save as a .ppt file. You can then add your own slides and text to complete your presentation.

Using the Clinicalkey APPs

There are two types of Bookshelf apps:

  • Mobile App (iOS or Android): You can download the mobile app directly in the iOS or Android app store. To find the app, search for the name of the app (Bookshelf ClinicalKey Student).
  • Desktop App (Windows 10+): The app name appears as ClinicalKey Student Bookshelf. During the download process, you will be prompted to install the app and agree to the terms and conditions. This will create a menu icon and add a shortcut on your Windows 10 desktop.
  • Desktop Apps (Mac OS): Download the Mac version and follow the steps on the screen to complete the download and install the app.

Authentication requirements depend on the app you are using: mobile or desktop.

  • Mobile App (iOS or Android): The first time you use the Bookshelf mobile app, you must be in your authenticated medical school’s network when you sign up or sign in. For only this first-time usage, you have to be authenticated by your medical school’s network. After this unique confirmation that your account belongs to a medical school that provides ClinicalKey Student, the app will remember this authentication, and you can use the app online (in any network) or offline.
  • Desktop App (Windows 10+): You do not need to be on an IP-authenticated network to access the desktop app. Use your ClinicalKey Student username and password to log in to the desktop app.