Thinking about study space

During the exam period library study spaces are at a premium and it is important to think in advance about the kind of study space that you need.

Whether you require a silent, quiet, or collaborative study space, a group study room or booth, or an individual accessible study room, there are a variety of open access and bookable study spaces located across our four library buildings (Philip Robinson, Walton, Law, and Marjorie Robinson).

It is possible to check live study space availability online or by using the university app. This will allow you to head straight for the nearest available study space and therefore avoid wasting valuable time searching for a desk.

You can also book a group study room or booth online for a maximum of 120 minutes per day. This will allow you to get together with fellow students to plan and allocate some guaranteed study time prior to your next exam.

Study Well@NCL, which runs throughout the exam period, advocates a responsible approach to studying and encourages positive behaviours in study spaces. Remember, it is key to choose the right environment that meets your study needs, to stay hydrated, and to respect the students and study space around you.

Thinking about study space in advance can help to remove a lot of unwanted stress and thus free up valuable energy that will aid both your revision focus and exam preparation.

Going home for the holidays? Top tips for accessing resources off campus.

The Library subscribes to over 300 specialist subject databases, 26,000 ejournals and has access to over 6 million ebooks. When you are on campus or use a computer connected to the University network, ebook and ejournal 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.

Library search filtered by database

#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.

Subject guides journals and databases tab

#3 Access the ejournal in Browzine

Have you created your own journal shelf or downloaded the Browzine app? Browzine is a way of accessing ejournal 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.

Browzine app and desktop homescreen

#4 Use RAS

Logging into RAS when you are off campus allows you to work within the University network. This will 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/ ebook platform.

A screen shot showing the log in section of Scopus and Web of Science

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.

You will find more tips for working with Library resources when you away from Newcastle on our distance learners library guide.

 

Waltzing with EndNote

What is EndNote?

The official blurb on EndNote is that it is “…the industry standard software tool for publishing and managing bibliographies, citations and references.”

Have you drifted off yet? Don’t – read on!

EndNote takes a little getting used to and we recommend you familiarise yourself with it at the start of your research process. But as Library Staff, we wouldn’t spend a significant amount of time demonstrating and training our academic staff and students on what EndNote is, and how to use it, if we didn’t think it was valuable. It will save you a huge amount of time in terms of writing up your assignments.

Essentially, you can use EndNote to create and organise a personal library of resources relevant to your research. You can import references from Library Search, and a huge range of databases such as ScopusWeb of ScienceIEEE Xplore and Business Source Complete. You can ask EndNote to locate the full-text PDFs of the resources you are going to use in your research, and you can annotate them as you wish too. Did you know you can instruct Google Scholar to import references into EndNote? No? Try it. Finally, if you already have materials stored in your home folder (H:\) then you can attach them to a manually-created reference within EndNote, bringing all your research together in one place.

In addition to organising your references (and this is the clever bit) you can then get EndNote to ‘talk’ to your word processing software, e.g. Microsoft Word, and insert the citations into your work for you in your chosen referencing style, e.g. Harvard at Newcastle, Vancouver, APA or MLA. If you don’t want to do that, then EndNote will also allow you to create an independent bibliography of your references, saving you an awful lot of typing.

Using EndNote

Intrigued? You should be. Take a look at our EndNote Guide. It contains all the introductory information you need, step-by-step workbooks to train yourself on the use of EndNote (the Desktop and Online versions), videos, useful FAQs, and contacts for help, should you need it.

Finally, Newcastle University provides support for EndNote but it is not compulsory to use. You may prefer MendeleyZoteroRefWorks or another piece of bibliographic management software. That’s fine, whatever makes your referencing lives easier. Go on, give them a try.

Strictly Referencing: When is a website not a website?

A common mistake made in referencing is grouping all sources found online under the category and reference type of a website. Your aim should be to reference the information you have in front of you rather than where it was sourced. Simply grouping items found online as a website would be the equivalent of referencing a book by the publisher details rather than the author and title.

For example, a government publication found online would be referenced like this in Chicago.

United Kingdom. Department for Education. Cloud computing: how schools can move services to the cloud. London: The Stationary Office, 2016. Accessed: November 4, 2019. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cloud-computing-how-schools-can-move-services-to-the-cloud. 

An electronic journal article might appear like this in APA.

Gillum, J. (2012). Dyscalculia: Issues for practice in education psychology.  Educational Psychology in Practice, 28(3), 287-297. doi:10.1080/02667363.2012.684344

While a video posted on the Tate website would look something like this in Harvard.

TateShots (2016) Grayson Perry: think like an artist. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/talk/what-makes-artist-grayson-perry-conversation-sarah-thornton (Accessed: 11 November 2019). 

Identifying the type of information you are using as well as the source, are essential skills of evaluation and developing a critical approach to information. In many cases you will be unconsciously using your judgment to assess the value of information for your purpose. So when you are using any source of information, ask yourself what it is you are looking at, what details are recorded about it and whether it measures up as a quality piece of information. You’ll find more guidance about evaluating information on our Evaluating Information guide.

It’s all a matter of style

There are lots of different referencing styles, but which one is right for you?

Once you start creating citations and references, you need to consider referencing styles. There are hundreds of them out there and each has a slightly different set of rules about how citations and reference lists should appear in your text.

Most Newcastle University students use the Harvard at Newcastle style, but there is also Vancouver, IEEE, OSCOLA, Chicago, and many more. Your lecturers will expect you to use one specific style and all of your citations and references should conform to that style accurately and consistently; same punctuation, same capitalisation, same everything. 

We have lots of help about using some of the popular referencing styles in our Managing Information guide. The Cite Them Right website is also a valuable online resource that will show you how to hit all of the right steps on your way to mastering an individual referencing style.

Referencing top tips: the basic steps

Learn the basic steps of a reference, and you can hit the rhythm with any style you need.

Referencing – why is it so important?

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.

Self Care Week: Top Tips

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

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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

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

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

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.

Responsible studying

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.”

Creative activities

Image credit: James Fish

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:

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.”

Finding Information: Troubleshooting your search results

Photograph of tools, including a hammer, spanner and measuring tape, laid out on a table

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.

Apply limits

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.

360 Searching

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.

Finding Information: The key to your search

Keys hanging on hooks on a piece of wood.

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.

An example of keywords from an article on Library Search
An example of keywords from an article on Library Search

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!