If you’re working on a dissertation, thesis or project right now, or will be doing so next academic year, what can you do if the Library doesn’t have access to all the specialist books and other information resources you need? How can you find out about resources relating to your research topic which are held elsewhere? Can you visit other libraries and archives if you’re away from Newcastle over the vacation?
Read on to find out how you can expand your search beyond our library….
You can search across the catalogues of over 170 UK and Irish academic and national libraries, together with other specialist and research libraries, via Library Hub Discover (formerly COPAC). The range of libraries included in Library Hub Discover is expanding all the time, and includes all UK universities, as well as the libraries of such diverse organisations as Durham Cathedral, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Royal Horticultural Society.
In response to Covid restrictions, Library Hub Discover has also made it easier for you to find Open Access resources via its catalogue: it has recently incorporated the HathiTrust Digital Library, as well as the Directories of Open Access Books and Journals to its searchable database.
For a more in-depth and up-to-date search, you can also search individual academic library catalogues online. Need to look further afield? Search library catalogues internationally via WorldCat.
If we haven’t got the book you want, you can ask us to consider buying or borrowing it via our Recommend a book service.
If you need a copy of a journal article to which we don’t have access, you can apply for it via our inter library loan service, which is currently free.
You can search UK doctoral theses via the national EThOS service. This has records for over 500,000 theses, dating back to the year 1800, of which over half are freely available online (do note you have to register with EThOS before being able to download: it’s a separate login process to your usual University login).
The SCONUL Access Scheme enables students to visit most other academic libraries around the country, and in some cases, borrow from them. This service has recently resumed since its suspension during the Covid pandemic, but please note that not all academic libraries are currently participating in the scheme, so do check carefully before you visit, and read the latest information on the SCONUL Access site.
You will need to register with SCONUL Access before you can visit another Library, so do allow time for your registration to be processed.
If you want to consult archives or special collections elsewhere, you’ll need to check with the organisation in question beforehand (you’ll usually need to request to consult items in advance of your visit). If you can’t visit in person, archives services may still be able to answer queries, provide access to selected digitised items, or even operate a Virtual Reading Room, so it may well be worth enquiring.
Have you met BoB? Box of Broadcasts is a fantastic resource for all subject areas: an archive of over two million radio and television broadcasts from over 75 free-to-air channels, including all BBC channels, ITV and Channel 4, plus some international channels. New programmes are added to BoB as they are broadcast each day.
We know it’s a very popular resource, but are you getting the best out of it? Here are some quick tips for newbies and experienced users alike!
BoB is a huge database, so searching by keyword may retrieve a lot of irrelevant results, especially as the default search looks for your keyword in all programme transcripts (i.e. every word spoken in a programme). Click on the Search options link just under the search bar to see various ways of making your search more precise, including searching in the programme titles only, or limiting by date. This help video gives more detail:
Playlists and clips
You can create your own playlists: really helpful if you’re researching for an assignment, or preparing to teach a module. You can also search public playlists curated by other BoB users around the UK: just select Public playlists underneath the search bar, or explore this showcase of playlists for more inspiration.
If you’re away from Newcastle over the Winter break you may be studying in unfamiliar or unusual spaces, which can make it more challenging to concentrate or find your motivation. Procrastination may be a struggle and creating a space, both physical and online, in which to be your most productive is something that many of us find 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 possible, designate a space as your study environment. It may be your room in a shared house, the kitchen table, office, dining room or 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.
It can be invaluable to have a ‘work space’ which is separate from the rest of your life and spaces in which you relax. Even if this is simply a cheap desk in your bedroom, 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.
2. Make it comfortable
While it may be tempting to study from your bed (which we’ve all done!), sitting upright will help you stay alert. 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
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 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.
4. Gather some stationery
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, while others may need a little background noise to block out distractions. 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
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.
Teaching is just around the corner and the students are starting to prepare for studying through 2021/22. So, which resources are you going to recommend to your students to support your teaching? How will you ensure the Library can offer access to what you need?
We’re promoting the Reading Lists service to our students. It’s easy to use, accessible and is a good starting point when approaching a new subject area.
Surprisingly, even in 2021, not every book is available online. You can use Reading Lists to check to see if we, as an institution, can gain access to those essential, recommended and background reading materials for you and your students.
How can you do this? Well, you can self-enrol on the Reading Lists Training for Staff course which is available via Canvas. It will explain each stage of creating and editing your lists ready for your students to use for guidance and to prioritise their reading.
If you don’t have time to do this now, you can produce a list of books, book chapters, journal articles and other resources and submit this to our dedicated Library Reading Lists team to create the online version to be accessed via Canvas for you. If you are doing this, the team need to know:
Module Leader or Coordinator’s name.
Reading list/Module title.
Anticipated student numbers on module (if known).
When it is running, e.g. Semester One and/or Two.
You should think about how the list should be organised: by topic, lecture, seminar, etc.
Finally, each item should be classified as essential, recommended or background reading so the Library is aware of the potential demand on the materials.
If you have any questions about availability of online materials or the Reading Lists service, contact your Liaison Team.
Everyone has goals, be that for lifestyle, health, work or study. These goals give you focus, generate new habits and keep you moving forward in life. However, life is tough, particularly at the moment, so the thought of setting goals can sometimes feel overwhelming. This post will take you through how creating an action plan will help you clarify your goal journey; exploring what your goal is and why you’re setting it, what it will take to achieve, and how you will motivate yourself to reach your destination.
The examples we will focus on will be for study goals, however you can apply this method of goal setting to any aspect of your life.
1. Start with reflection
Before embarking on your shiny new goals, take some time to reflect on your previous goals. Which goals have you successfully achieved? Why were they a success? Is there anything you would do differently this time? Is there a common theme in the goals that you didn’t achieve, such as a lack of purpose?
Ask yourself ‘why’ you are setting this new goal, doing so will help you stay focused and give you meaning and purpose for this potentially challenging journey that you are embarking on.
2. Make them SMART
Your goals need to be SMART:
Specific – a specific and focused goal to allow for effective planning
Measurable – how will you measure the success of your goal?
Achievable – a goal that you will realistically accomplish within a time frame
Relevant – a goal that is important and benefits you
Time bound – a goal that has a realistic deadline
What is your goal and how can you make it SMART?
EXAMPLE: Your goal is to hand in your dissertation early this summer. This goal, as it is, may feel daunting and unachievable, so how can we make it SMART?
Specific – You want to hand in your dissertation two weeks early because you are going on holiday.
Measurable – You will set measurable targets daily/weekly, such as X amount of words written by X.
Achievable – You have 10 weeks to complete your goal, so you feel it is very attainable if you plan your time carefully (if you only had 2 weeks, you might want to reconsider your goal).
Relevant – This goal is very relevant as you need to do well in your dissertation so you can pass your degree, but you also need to complete it early so you can go on your booked holiday.
Time bound – You have a clear ideal deadline of two weeks before hand-in.
Use our Goal Setting Template to get you started on your SMART goal:
An action plan is a flexible checklist or document for the steps or tasks that you need to complete in order to successfully achieve the goal(s) you have set yourself.
This could be written in a notebook, diary or using the Action Plan Template we have created that you can print off and use. It’s important that you get out your pen and actually write your goals down on paper. Research has shown that this will engage the left-hand, logical, side of the brain – basically telling your brain that you mean business!
Use our Action Plan Template to put your SMART goal(s) into action:
There are always going to be challenges and events that may disrupt your goal, but instead of letting that obstacle derail you, plan for it.
Look at your study goal and identify what the obstacle(s) will be.
EXAMPLE: You want to submit your dissertation in early, but there’s a big family birthday coming up and a Uni field trip planned. So, get your action plan out and make sure these events are accounted for and plan your studies around them.
5. Check it off
There is nothing more satisfying in life (well apart from popping bubble wrap) than crossing or checking items off a to-do list – it’s that sense of accomplishment, feeling like you are finally getting there, which in turn reduces stress. So remember to break down your goal into small attainable actions and checklists, and for big projects, such as a dissertation or research project, you might have multiple checklists on the go. Just think of the satisfaction you will feel when it’s all done!
6. Reward yourself
This a very personal aspect of goal setting, but an important one.
To boost your motivation we recommend that you choose a reward for all your successful hard work, but select something that’s in relation to the size of the goal – maybe a piece of cake for getting a First Class degree is a bit out of proportion! Add this reward to your action plan and remind yourself of your incentive on a regular basis. It will keep you motivated when you feel like giving up.
EXAMPLE: If you hand-in your dissertation early you will treat yourself to a night out with your friends before you go on holiday.
7. A bit more reflection
You made this goal for a reason – it’s something that you really, REALLY want to achieve, so if your plan isn’t working, change it! Take some time to reflect on what’s working or not working in your action plan, be that daily, weekly, or monthly. Consider – How are you progressing? What changes can you make to bring you closer to your goals? It hard to keep on track when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, so are there any quick wins to give you a sense of accomplishment?
EXAMPLE: It’s late at night, you’re tired and struggling to write your dissertation conclusion. Your self-given deadline is in a days time and you are starting to doubt that your goal is achievable – maybe you need to postpone the holiday?
What you need to do is pivot your method – this isn’t working, so what can you change to still achieve your goal? Maybe leave the conclusion for the morning when you feel more awake, but spend the next hour focusing on your reference list so you can tick that off your action plan instead.
Your SMART goals can be about anything and should be quite simple to plan. There’s lots of help online on using SMART goals, but working your way through the acronym for your particular goal is an excellent start. Don’t forget to use our Goal Setting Template and our Action Plan Template to help keep your goals manageable and reduce that feeling of overwhelm with your studies.
The Library has access to thousands of contemporary books online, but did you know we also have online access to almost every work published in the English language from the invention of printing in the fifteenth century to the start of the nineteenth century?
Read on to find out about five of our major historic book collections online, and how to get the best out of them.
EEBOgives access to the full text of almost every book published in the British Isles and British North America between 1470-1700. It contains over 146,000 titles, including literary works, royal and parliamentary documents, ballads, tracts, and sermons, giving a unique insight into the cultural and political life of that period. You can read works by major figures such as Shakespeare, Newton and Galileo, as well as many lesser-known works. EEBOdisplays digital facsimile images of every page of content, and full text transcription is available for many of the texts.
You can search, browse and export from EEBO in various ways, and all the individual works are individually catalogued on Library Search as well. If you are likely to be making frequent use of EEBO, we’d strongly recommend you spend some time exploring this EEBO guide, as it gives tips on key aspects such as searching for spelling variants.
ECCOgives access to the full text of every book printed in the United Kingdom, and territories under British colonial rule, in the eighteenth century. It contains over 180,000 titles, including literary works, royal and government proclamations, schoolbooks and petitions.
As with ECCO, digital facsimile images of every page are provided, and optical character recognition enables full text searching. All items are individually catalogued on Library Search, but we’d recommend searching directly from the ECCO interface to benefit from advanced search options, and special features such as term frequency and topic finder. As ECCO is part of the Gale Primary Sources platform, you can cross-search it along with other Gale resources, such as historic newspapers.
The Early European Books collection complements EEBO, and aims to encompass European printed material from circa 1450-1700.
Content comes from major European libraries, and is being added to regularly (we currently have access to over 25,000 titles). Facsimile images scanned directly from the original printed sources are provided, and detailed catalogue records help you search (we recommend choosing Advanced Search to see the full range of options).
These books aren’t individually catalogued on Library Search, so you’ll need to search directly from the Early European Books interface.
OSEO enables you to explore old works in new ways. It brings together authoritative editions of major works, so you can explore variations between editions, annotations and extensive notes side-by-side with the texts, or you can just read the texts on their own.
We have access to 272 Oxford editions, containing 344 works, including poetry, prose, drama, essays and correspondence, in the following categories: Romantics Prose; Romantics Poetry; 18th Century Drama; 18th Century Prose.
You can browse by work, edition or author, or search in highly specific ways (e.g. just search within notes or stage directions) to pinpoint exactly what you want.
The editions are individually catalogued on Library Search, but we’d recommend searching for works and editions via the OSEO interface itself. If you haven’t used OSEO before, we’d strongly recommend watching this introductory video, so you can understand its potential and how to get the best out of it.
5. Oxford World’s Classics
Stop press! We’ve just bought access to this new online collection of over 300 works from the 18th and 19th centuries. Read our separate blog post to find out all about it.
Thanks to everyone who booked on our two Be Connected sessions to support your dissertation or project. We’re posting below links to the key resources we highlighted, so you’ve got them all handy in one place, whether you were able to participate in the sessions or not.
Getting a head start
If you’re at the early stages of planning your project or dissertation, or perhaps thinking ahead to next year, then you can get ahead of the game with our dissertation toolkit.
This interactive toolkit includes a proposal planner, to help you refine your initial thinking as you develop your proposal, and a search planner, which takes you step-by-step through each stage of the process to create your own personalised literature search strategy. It will help you develop your search terms, identify different types of information resource, evaluate what you have found, and formulate a plan for keeping up to date and managing your references.
Our toolkit will help you translate vague thoughts into a firm plan of action!
Nearing completion: final checks
If you’re well into your dissertation or project, you may well have some last minute aspects you need to check.
Are you sure you haven’t missed any recent research in your area? Find out about 360 degree searching and make sure you check key resources for your subject area on your subject guide. Are there particular types of information missing from your search: for example: data, news, reports, images? Visit our resource guides for inspiration.
How is your bibliography shaping up: are all the references accurate and correctly formatted? Visit our managing information guide for all the answers, including a link to the Cite Them Right ebook for specific queries relating to a type of resource or referencing style.
Depending on your subject area, you might want to make use of some of the Library’s fabulous Special Collections and Archives in your research, or find out more about the possibilities of using archives elsewhere.
Start with the Special Collections home page: all the links you need for how to find and use our collections, including digital and virtual services while the Reading Room is still closed.
Need inspiration? Not sure where to start? Anxious about archives? Try the practical Special Collections guide for friendly, expert advice about using our collections in your research or finding collections elsewhere. Or why not see where your ideas take you with our great new Primary Sources Research Planner?
Strong information skills are not only important for improving your work in assessments, they’re also useful life-long skills that are increasingly important in our digital society. Strengthening these skills will help you to find and engage critically with information both for your assignments and in your future beyond University.
During Enrichment Week we ran a session looking at how you can reflect on your current information skills and discover resources, tools and advice that can help you take your capabilities further. If you missed the session and want to learn more, this blog summarises the steps you’ll need to take to improve your own information and digital skills. You’ll also find slides from the session at the end.
Reflection is an important part of the learning process as it allows you to identify your current practises, see your areas of strength and what works for you, and think about how you can adapt, change or develop your skills going forward to meet new challenges.
The ASK webpage below goes into more detail about reflective practice, while our quizzes will help you reflect on your current information skills:
The next step is to consider what you want to put into practice, change, use or try based on your reflections. You need to give yourself a goal, target or action plan to work toward – this should be SMART:
So for example, you might want to improve your referencing for your next assignment or focus on searching three new subject databases for information to help you write your literature review. Alternatively, you may want to use your skills in a different way, by researching employers before you write your CV.
The frameworks below can be useful both for reflection and for selecting goals as they highlight the kinds of skills you should be developing as a University Student. You might also get ideas for goals from feedback from your assignments, from the kind of skills you’ll need in your future career, or simply by just selecting a topic you find interesting.
The Library is here to help you every step of the way and have created a host of useful tools and guides to help you develop your information skills. Once you’ve set your goal, take some time to explore the support that is available to you.
Subject Guides – useful for finding subject-specific resources that can help you locate reliable information for your assignments.
Resource Guides – help you access a range of different information types, from newspapers to maps to company information.
Skills Guides – helpful advice and tools to aid you in finding, managing and evaluating information.
Search Planner – a great tool for helping you prepare for your dissertation literature review
ASK website – designed to support you in developing your wider academic skills, includes a host of helpful tools, guides, videos and resources.
One-to One appointment – chat to your Liaison Librarian about your information skills, we can help you find information, think critically about resources and manage your references.
As with any skill, the only way to improve your chosen information skill is to practise it, so look out for chances to do this. These opportunities may pop up in your modules with formative assessments or quizzes, or you may need to set aside some time to practise independently. For example, you could try some of the tutorials or workbooks below that were designed to help you practise some key skills:
Reflection is an iterative process. Once you’ve had time to explore, practise and apply your chosen skill and feel that you’ve achieved your goal, repeat the reflective process to see how far you’ve come and think about where you might go next!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 NUSU, Student Wellbeing Service, Nightline and the University chaplaincy.
So good luck. Remember……pace yourself, access the help you need and believe that you can do this!
The Library subscribes to over 300 specialist subject databases, 50,000 journals and has access to over half a million e-books. When you are on campus or use a computer connected to the University network, e-book and e-journal providers will recognise you as a member of the University and allow you access to the resource. You will see the University logo on the page and if you are on things like Google Scholar, you will be given the option to “Find at Newcastle University”. This works because it recognises the IP address of the University.
It all works like magic and it is easy to think that it is all freely available. However, when you’re off campus, working from home or perhaps in a different library, you won’t be automatically recognised. This can cause you some difficulty accessing resources and you’ll probably find that you are locked out of the full-text and asked to pay large amounts for articles.
If you are working off campus, follow our tips to make sure that you are able to access all of the resources that you are entitled to as a member of Newcastle University.
#1 Access the resource from Library Search
If you perform a search in Library Search, you will be automatically prompted to log in to online resources with your University username and password, even when you are off campus. But did you know you can also search it to access whole journal titles and databases, such as Scopus and Web of Science? Access the database through Library Search and you will be prompted to login, to easily perform your search and download the full-text.
#2 Access the resource from your Subject Guide
As we have access to so many databases and specialist resources, we’ve drawn together the best ones for your discipline on your Subject Guide. Clicking on the links in the Subject Guide will take you through a route that will prompt you to log in with your University username and password.
#3 Access the e-journal in Browzine
Have you created your own journal shelf or downloaded the Browzine app? Browzine is a way of accessing e-journal titles for your subject, and to read the most recent articles, just like flicking through a magazine. As you set up your personal account using your University email address, Browzine will always recognise you as a member of the University and give you access to the full-text.
#4 Use Windows Virtual Desktop
Logging into WVD when you are off campus allows you to work within the University network. This may enable journal and database providers to automatically recognise you as a member of the University, just as it would work on campus.
#5 Check the screen for the University logo
We get a lot of enquiries from staff and students who aren’t sure if we have a subscription to a journal or an electronic version of a book. This is sometimes because they are not logged in or have found a reference through a search engine such as Google Scholar. If you are on the website of a journal or a database, the quickest way to check if you are logged in, is to look around the screen to see if you can spot the University logo or name. This is often at the top right or below the search boxes on the homepage of a database or journal/ e-book platform.
Still not working …
There are times when you’ll have done everything right and you are still not recognised as being able to access the resource. In this case, it is always worth trying to log in again within the platform. Look to the top right of the screen for a link that says institutional log in, sign in via your University or it might mention something called Shibboleth. This will allow you to log in with your University username and password.
If you’re in any doubt, you can always chat with us online 24/7 or send us an enquiry via Library Help. We’ll probably ask you to send us a picture of what you can see on screen, as this will help us spot any problems.