Transitioning from school to university

Lego person with suitcase getting out of car

Your bags are packed and you are excited to get started at uni, but you may be beginning to wonder what on earth to expect? How does it differ from a school environment? Never fear! We have created a short video just for you and put lots of advice and tips on our transitioning web pages. We’re looking forward to meeting you soon!

P.S. Even if you’re not coming straight from school, some of this advice will still be relevant for you too, so do take a peek.

Brush up on your search skills

A pot of paint brushes

Searching should be easy, right? We do it all the time in our day to day lives and with Google so ingrained into our existence, we don’t give it much thought. We type some words into the search engine and most of the time we find what we are looking for. Nothing to it!

However, while this approach certainly works for checking out cinema times or booking flights, it lets us down where research is concerned. We have high expectations that information will be quick and easy to come by and that it will be neatly organised in one place, rather than having to search in multiple locations, using different techniques. We imagine that the time consuming part of our research will be the analysing, synthesizing and the writing of it and we often don’t even think about the searching side of things.

The reality though is quite different. Without investing in our searching techniques and the development of a search plan, we can often find ourselves overwhelmed by information and not being able to see the wood from the trees. Our stress levels rise and our frustrations explode. Surely finding information shouldn’t be this hard!

The good news is, is that there is help to be had. Our job as Liaison Librarians is to equip you with the skills you need to create that all important search plan and to encourage you to pause and stop before you dive straight into finding information for your research.We have a fantastic range of online tools for you to do this, not least an interactive search planner that you can keep adding to throughout your search and which you can even email to yourself, supervisor or us as a Liaison team for feedback. And our ‘Finding Information’ academic skills guide has lots of advice on how to start a search, including how to break your concept down into manageable chunks and how to identify keywords and synonyms.

You can also check out this short video to get you started…….

Keep your eyes peeled for our next blog installment of how to find particular resources. See you then!

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Get ahead of the game!

A game of chess

Phew, the exams are behind you and you can breathe a sigh of relief! One semester is done and dusted and the next is around the corner. But before you say, “I don’t want to think about that yet”, why not use this simple checklist to ensure that you start semester 2 ahead of the game?

  1. Find your reading lists for your semester 2 modules and start to read the items now. You’re upcoming lectures and seminars will make much more sense in light of this and enable you to use your time more efficiently as a result. If it seems overwhelming, why not just start with the items your academic has marked as ‘essential’ on the list?
  2. Look at your upcoming module handbooks on Blackboard and check out the assignment details. Are you going to have to produce a type of assignment you have never done before? Or do you need to develop your assignment writing skills? The Writing Development Centre are here to help.
  3. Get familiar with your subject specific guide and explore the databases and resources that are recommended for you.  It will make finding high quality information for assignments much easier and will help you access those top marks.
  4. Hone your referencing skills by checking out our referencing guide and the fantastic referencing tool which is Cite them Right. Getting to grips with your referencing style will not only help you to avoid plagiarism, but will get you some easy marks.
  5. And if all of this seems overwhelming and you need some help with managing your time, check out the ASK website for some advice.

Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

Shhhh don’t mention the word exams!

Your final assignment of the term has been handed in, Christmas parties are in full swing and you’re starting to think that you really must buy some presents. It is definitely a time to be winding down. You settle down on the sofa to watch some good old, cheesy Christmas T.V. but then up pops Macaulay Culkin and you suddenly want to scream with him! You have a sudden realisation that despite being lulled into a false sense of security, exams are just around the corner and Semester 1 still hasn’t finished yet…….Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! But don’t panic, your trusty librarians are here to help!

Now, we are not suggesting for one moment that you shouldn’t be taking some time out for some ‘r and r’ (you definitely should), but when you’re ready to get back into study mode, just remember that:-

  1. Our library buildings are still open if you want to come in and get away from all the Christmas madness.  Check out our opening times here.
  2. If you’re away from Newcastle this Christmas or just want to hibernate at home in your favourite pyjamas (I mean who doesn’t want to at this time of year?!), then you can make use of all our online resources. Check out Library Search and your specific subject guide for access to books, eBooks, journal articles and more.
  3. We have exam and revision advice. Why not explore the ASK website  or take a look at some relevant resources in the ‘study skills’ sections of our libraries?
  4. And last but not least, remember that we are here to help! You can contact us 24/7 via Library Help or alternatively browse the hundreds of frequently asked questions, which you can access anytime, anywhere.

So, enjoy Christmas, put your feet up and then when you’re ready, remember you don’t need to be home alone! We are here to help!

 

Managing your References: EndNote and OSCOLA

Recipe for referencing: Newcastle University Library

“Should I use EndNote as a way to manage my references?” is often a question we get asked. We wish that there was a simple answer to that question, but there isn’t! It all depends on how many references you have, how you like to work and if you are willing to make time to learn how to use EndNote properly. You see, while EndNote is tool that can make your academic life easier (for example, it can help you build a collection of references, insert references into your work and create bibliographies), it will only save you time, if you invest time NOW.

So if you’re using the OSCOLA referencing style and weighing up whether to use EndNote or not, then you might want to consider the following:

  • You need to have a good grasp of the OSCOLA fundamentals before you even start with EndNote. If you need a refresher on OSCOLA, then check out the OSCOLA referencing guide first before even looking at EndNote.
  • EndNote will not do EVERYTHING for you. You will still need to manually input and amend your references to ensure your footnotes and bibliography comply with OSCOLA.
  • Have you got the time to invest in EndNote before using it? We strongly recommend that you make a start using EndNote from the beginning, rather than in the middle or at the end, of your research.
  • How do you want to use EndNote? Some people decide to use it simply as a storage place for their references and PDFs and leave it at that. Others use it both as a storage place, as well as a tool to help them cite.

Still not sure? Watch the video below to see how to use OSCOLA style and the Cite While You Write feature in Word. Then take a look at the OSCOLA and EndNote guide and see if it’s something you’d like to start using.

Any questions? Have a look at our Frequently Asked Questions to see if it’s been asked before. If not, then do get in touch via Library Help

 

Getting to know OSCOLA 4th referencing style

What is OSCOLA?

The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) is the standard referencing format used by law students and anyone writing in a legal field.  It allows for exact referencing of cases, journals and statutes meaning that sources can be found quickly and accurately.

HELP!!!!!

OSCOLA can be a bit daunting at first, especially if you are unused to referencing, but don’t worry, we have a lot of help available.   Here are some top tips for getting to grips with OSCOLA from scratch or if you just need a refresher:

  1. Start by going to our library guide, where you will find tips and resources to build your knowledge up.
  2. Have a look at our OSCOLA and referencing slideshow to understand the importance of referencing and to get a brief overview of OSCOLA.
  3. Set some time aside and work through the Citing the Law Tutorial from Cardiff University. This will show you how to cite cases, legislation and secondary sources, as well as how to identify authors and quote.
  4. For quick “how do I”? questions, check out the OSCOLA quick help guide (physical copies also available in the Law Library) or Cite the Law’s A-Z referencing examples.
  5. And if you are trying to use OSCOLA and EndNote, don’t forget we have a handy guide for you. More on this next time!

And lastly, if you are in doubt, remember we are always here to help! Contact us via library help or ask in the Law Library.

To google or not to google?…That is the question

Can you remember life before Google?! It is such a huge part of our lives, that even those of us who can remember a time before it (hmmm, yes I am that old!), can’t imagine life without it now. It is great place to find the latest cinema listings or who won last night’s football match, but what about finding information for your latest assignment or research?

There is a time and a place to use Google, but you need to be aware of its limitations. Google, after all, is a business. It earns the majority of its money from advertising, and it will not reveal how it ranks its search results (every wonder how Wikipedia always appears at the top of every search you do?). A search that we do today and repeat tomorrow for a piece of research could give us hugely different results, with no explanation of why. We are also often bombarded with millions of search results and the reality of our searching habits mean that we rarely look beyond the first or second page.  Admittedly, advanced search features on Google and the use of Google Scholar can really help us to become a smarter and effective Google users, but is it enough for our own research? Are we finding everything that is out there?

We need to think about our information needs before we work out where it will be best for us to search. Imagine, for a moment, that we are want to buy a particular local cheese, which we love. Would we go to a general shop or would we go to a specialist deli? We are probably going to need to go to a deli. It is just the same when searching for information. Google may be great for some background information or a starting point of a project, but it may simply not give us the high quality, niche information that we need to give us top marks for an assignment. So what are the other options?

Aimee Cook, a Liaison Librarian here at Newcastle University, explains more.

So next time you think about googling something for an assignment, stop and check out Library Search and your subject guide first for the books, eBooks and specialist databases that are available to you. If you are going to use Google, make use of the advanced search features and get to grips with Google Scholar. Happy searching!

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Searching historic newspapers in Gale Primary Sources

We have access to a wide range of digitised British historic newspaper archives, which you can access through various different platforms (see the historic section of our newspaper resource guide for more detail). If you want to search across many historic newspapers at once, we would recommend using Gale Primary Sources.

Gale Primary Sources searches across 15 different archives, including major titles such as The TimesThe Daily Mail, Financial Times and The Economist (all dating from their very first issue) together with historic collections of regional titles. You can select to search as many of the archives as you require.

Watch this short introductory video to help you get the best out of searching Gale Primary Sources. If you want information on how to access current, business and international news, then visit this page.

Finding international news: a how to guide

The Library’s online news resources are strongest for the UK, but we do also provide access to a wide range of historic and contemporary international news resources. You can find links to all relevant resources in the international section of our newspaper guide.

Historic archives

Our strongest non-UK historic resources are from the USA, as we have access to the New York Times archive, together with various archives from the Civil War period, plus a collection of microfilms from the Civil Rights period. The availability of historic newspaper archives depends very much on digitisation programmes in the country concerned. We have included links to those which are freely available (and be sure to investigate the Europeana newspaper project, which aims to aggregate millions of newspaper pages across many European countries.)

Contemporary news

Nearly all international newspapers have their own web site, but you are unlikely to find free access to their entire archive. However, the Nexis database enables you to search across thousands of newspapers, news magazines and newswires from across the world (though primarily Europe and the USA), dating back over twenty years to the present day (precise date coverage varies by title). You can search in various ways, by country, language, or search an individual newspaper. Watch the video below to find out how to use this fantastic resource.

Finding UK news with Lexis

Lexis is primarily a legal database, but it also provides access to UK news from 1990 to the present day.

This resource covers national and regional newspapers, as well as broadsheets. We speak to a lot of students and academics who don’t realise that this resource covers publications such as The Times Educational Supplement and The Times Higher Education (although we now also have an institutional account for The Times Higher Education. Details of how to set up an account and access it can be found here).

For more information on what sources are covered by Lexis, simply click on ‘Sources’ section located in the top right hand corner once you are logged in. Below is a short introductory video of how to access and find information in Lexis. If you are looking for information on how to access international and historic newspapers, as well as business and TV/audio news, then check out our newspaper resources guide.