Beyond the Library

Will you be working on a dissertation or project this summer or next year? Worried that the Library might not have access to the specialist books and other resources which you need? Wondering how you can find out about resources relating to your research topic which are held in other libraries?

Wonder no more! There are three main ways you can find and access books and other resources held elsewhere:

1. Search

You can search the catalogues of over 100 UK and Irish academic libraries, national libraries and other major research libraries via COPAC. 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.

2. Visit

We have more information about how you can visit other libraries, locally and nationally, here. The SCONUL Access Scheme enables students to use other academic libraries around the country, but you need to register online first (and be sure to check the access arrangements for any library you are planning to visit, as they may alter during the year).

3. Obtain

If we haven’t got the book you want, you can ask us to consider buying or borrowing it, via our Books on Time service. If you need a copy of a journal article to which we don’t have access, please apply via our inter library loan service.

Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay. 

New resource now available: Kanopy film streaming

We’re pleased to announce that following a successful trial, we now have access to the Kanopy on-demand film-streaming platform.

Kanopy provides access to over 30,000 films, including contemporary and classic feature films from around the world, and documentaries across a range of topics in arts, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. New films are added each month, and you can watch them on your preferred device.

Kanopy is very easy to use: simply search for a film by title, or browse by category. All the films are also individually catalogued on Library Search too, so you can find and access them that way as well.

You’ll find lots of useful features, including creating clips and playlists, viewing the transcript, and rating or adding comments.

Please note, as Kanopy is a ‘pay as you go’ service, we will assess demand during an initial pilot phase. If you’ve got any feedback about Kanopy, we’d be interested to receive it: just drop us an email or post it as a comment on this blog.

The Camera Never Lies? Fakes and Photoshop

Fake news story of a new species of bird. Picture shows a photoshopped tiger headed bird.

I am sure you spotted that the photograph above is a photoshopped fake, but according to a recent study at Warwick University, about a third of manipulated images go undetected by viewers.

Physical manipulation of images has been around since the invention of photography itself.  Take a look at this example from the early 20th Century; it looks convincing but the Library of Congress were able to work out that this is actually a composite of several images and does not really show General Ulysses S. Grant at City Point:

Modern digital technology has brought with it a plethora of photograph and video editing apps that are easily accessible and simple to use – at the touch of a button we are now able to crop, edit and filter the photographs we take.  While fun to use for entertainment and valuable for people such as designers and artists, tools such as these can be more problematic when they are used with the intention to deceive or manipulate.

For example, in March 2018 a photograph from Teen Vogue of Emma González, an American anti-gun activist, was photoshopped to show her tearing up the US Constitution with the presumed aim of promoting her views as unpatriotic:

Out of Context

Manipulated images are not the only problem.  Purposefully using a picture out of context can also mislead the intended audience.

In April 1934 a number of American newspapers, including the highly respected New York Times, published a photograph showing a man using a flying machine that worked using his lung power alone.  The incredible image depicts a man in mid-air wearing a device consisting of a box and two rotors while four other men run along below him.  Unfortunately, the newspapers had failed to check the original source of the image and fell afoul of a German magazine’s April fool’s joke.

While publishing a fake flying machine might be a fairly harmless, if embarrassing, mistake some images taken out of context like this can have more powerful consequences.

In July 2018 Time magazine used the cropped image of a young girl crying juxtaposed against a stern looking President Trump on their front page; the child was said to have been separated from her parents as part of Trump’s zero tolerance policy toward those crossing the border illegally from Mexico.    The original photograph, taken by Getty photographer John Moore, went viral, sparking a public outrage that led to the government ending the practice.  However, it was discovered that, on this occasion, the child had not been separated from her parents but was detained with her mother.

Both of these examples, highlight the importance of checking the source and confirming the context of an image before taking it at face value.

This can be true of videos too, take this example purporting to show U.S. President Donald Trump removing his hat and revealing that he’s bald:

You can see toward the end of the video, a slight glitch where the President’s hand seems to go through the top of his head, showing it to be an obvious fake but even if this wasn’t clear, the origin of the video would provide another hint that it’s not to be trusted – the video was created by Paul Lee Ticks, a Twitter user who frequently posts memes and digitally manipulated videos.

While some images and videos are obviously fake others can be more convincing and improvements in technology, particularly artificial intelligence, are making the fakes even more difficult to detect.  These more convincing images and videos are known as deepfakes and with the ability to make people appear to say things that they did not, they have the potential to cause serious damage.

Take a look at this TED talk by computer scientist Supasorn Suwajanakorn, who explains his work with AI and discusses both the creative and more negative ethical implications of the technology:

Spotting the Fakes 

With the creation of fake images and videos proliferating in journalism, politics and social media, it’s increasingly important to be vigilant.  While experts are developing tools to help fight against the more serious attempts at disinformation, we have some simple tricks you can use to help improve your fake image savvy too:

Top Three Ways to Spot a Fake

  1. Look for inconsistencies

Check the image for distorted backgrounds, missing or altered reflections and shadows, and missing features that you would expect to see.  Keep an eye out for any obviously repeated patterns and be wary of lower quality or blurred images.

  1. Try a reverse image search

Use a reverse image search on Google to track the image, see if it has been circulated before, locate the original source or maybe even find if the story around the image has already been debunked.

  1. Check the metadata

Sometimes it is possible to look at an image’s metadata, that is, data about the image such as what time and date it was taken, which camera was used and if it has been saved in Photoshop.  This is called the EXIF data.  There are various websites and apps where you can upload an image to check it’s metadata but it’s simple to find out some key information using Windows too: right click on an image, go to properties then details.  Unfortunately, not all images will have metadata as some popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter will remove it to protect user privacy.

Now you’re armed with these top tips why not take a look at the test the University of Warwick used in the study mentioned at the beginning of the blog.  How many fakes can you spot?

Sources:

Boese, A. (no date) Man Flies By Own Lung Power. Available at:  http://hoaxes.org/af_database/permalink/man_flies_by_own_lung_power (Accessed: 22 March 2019)

Brightside (no date) 10 Tips to Spot a Fake Image and Not Let Photoshoppers Fool You. Available at: https://brightside.me/wonder-curiosities/10-tips-to-spot-a-fake-image-and-not-let-photoshoppers-fool-you-469660/ (Accessed 22 March 2019)

Evon, D. (2019) ‘Is This a Video of President Trump Without His Toupee?’, Snopes, 12 March.  Available at: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-toupee-video-fake/ (Accessed 22 March 2019)

Farid, H. (2019)’Don’t be fooled by fake images and videos online’, The Conversation, 20 February.  Available at: https://theconversation.com/dont-be-fooled-by-fake-images-and-videos-online-111873 (Accessed 25 March 2019)

Kirby, J. (2018 ) ‘Time’s crying girl photo controversy, explained’, Vox, 22 June. Available at: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/6/22/17494688/time-magazine-cover-crying-girl-photo-controversy-family-separation (Accessed: 22 March 2019)

Library of Congress (2008) Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints.  Available at: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/cwp/mystery.html (Accessed: 22 March 2019)

Mikkelson, D (2018) ‘Was Emma González Filmed Ripping Up the U.S. Constitution?’, Snopes, 25 March.  Available at: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/emma-gonzalez-ripping-up-constitution/ (Accessed 22 March 2019)

O’Sullivan, D. (2019) ‘When seeing is no longer believing: Inside the Pentagon’s race against deepfake videos’, CNN Business, no date. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2019/01/business/pentagons-race-against-deepfakes/ (Accessed: 22 March 2019)

Smith, B. (2018) ‘Fake news, hoax images: How to spot a digitally altered photo from the real deal’, ABC News, 24 July.  Available at:  https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-02-11/fake-news-hoax-images-digitally-altered-photos-photoshop/9405776 (Accessed: 25 March 2019)

TED (2018) Fake videos of real people — and how to spot them | Supasorn Suwajanakorn. Available at: https://youtu.be/o2DDU4g0PRo (Accessed 28 March 2019)

University of Warwick (2017) One third of fake images go undetected in recent study [Press release] 18 July. Available at:  https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/one_third_of/ (Accessed: 22 March 2019)

Vick, K. (2018) ‘A Reckoning After Trump’s Border Separation Policy: What Kind of Country Are We?’ The Times, 21 June. Available at:  http://time.com/5318229/donald-trump-border-separation-policy/ (Accessed: 22 March 2019)

Bubbles and echos: are you surrounding yourself with fake news?

Librarians have been warning people about ‘Fake News’ for many, many, many, many years – how to find and select reliable, authoritative, quality resources is at the heart of any good library teaching session.  In a way we librarians have to thank Mr Trump for making Fake News a popular term; he has made everyone aware that there are fake stories out there and that there has been for centuries (see our historical time-line of Fake News).

2019 is NU Library’s third year of promoting awareness of Fake News, and by looking at the large number of visits to our Fake News Guide over these three years (4,672 visits in total), and again thanks to Mr Trump, it’s not something that’s going away anytime soon.  So we Librarians will continue our quest of highlighting all information that is fake for the greater good.

Until I went to Librarian’s Fake News conference last year, I hadn’t heard of the terms ‘Filter Bubble’ and ‘Echo Chambers’ in relation to Fake News.  However, once explained hopefully it will make you more aware of what information/news stories you read via the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter, and how they could potentially be fake.  So here is the low-down on what these terms mean and how you can avoid falling into their traps; we’ve also offered the alternative view that they’re a load of old nonsense so you can decide for yourselves…

What is a ‘Filter Bubble’?

A Filter Bubble is when you are in a virtual bubble on social media – you only encounter information and opinions that agree with or reinforce your own beliefs.  Your ‘personalised’ online experience is the result of algorithms that work away in the background and dictate what you see/read online. Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, YouTube and many more all do this.

These Filter Bubbles in turn create Echo Chambers…

What are ‘Echo Chambers’?

When information within a closed system online is only giving you (‘echoing’) back your opinion and beliefs and establishing confirmation bias (only accepting information that confirm your own opinion and beliefs).

What are the dangers?

As much as I enjoy Facebook fuelling my love of funny dog videos by suggesting similar videos and articles, being aware of why and how Facebook is doing this helps when it comes to more serious topics such as the news, social issues and politics.

Regarding Fake News, confirmation bias is particularly worrying as you will start believing fake news stories that confirms your opinions and beliefs. I know I have done this, which is really scary to realise.

Watch this short TedTalks video from Eli Pariser on the dangers of Filter Bubbles:

You could argue that this type of ‘personalisation’ is editing the web – only showing you one half of the story.  So what can you do to pop the bubble?

What can you do to stop the bubbles and echoes?

There are a few simple things you can do to stop this and open yourselves up to a wider web:

  • Read news sites, websites and blogs that offer a wide range of perspectives, such as the BBC.
  • Use Incognito browsing, delete search histories and try and resist the temptation of logging into your accounts every time you go online.
  • Deleting or blocking browser cookies – these cookies hold the algorithms that determine what we see.
  • Turn off your curated feed in Facebook.
  • Click ‘Like’ on everything! – This will tell the AI that you are into everything – all politics, all news etc.
  • Don’t clink on links, especially politics and social issues – will stop fuelling the algorithms.
  • Tell everyone else to turn off their curated feed!

Is it all a myth?

Below are a few articles that claim Filter Bubbles and Echo Chambers are myths and that it’s not the technology at fault, but rather the user. I’ll let you decide:

Dubois, E. and Blank, G. (2018) The myth of the echo chamber. Available at: https://theconversation.com/the-myth-of-the-echo-chamber-92544. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Robson, D. (2018) The myth of the online echo chamber. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180416-the-myth-of-the-online-echo-chamber. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Schwab, P. (2017) Academic research debunks the myth of filter bubbles. Available at: https://www.intotheminds.com/blog/en/academic-research-debunks-the-myth-of-filter-bubbles/. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Don’t burst my bubble!

Or maybe you like being in your own little bubble? The safety and comfort in knowing what information you are going to be presented with – nothing that offends or upsets your online world. I know I will carry on being fed humorous dog videos.

There are some interesting thoughts and opinions on the Social Network Bubble – the pros and cons – on this Radio 4 programme:

BBC Radio 4 (2017) Bursting the social network bubble. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b083p4lw. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

References:

BBC Radio 4 (2017) Fave ways to burst your social media bubble. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3n9yf0D5WxRZJGclBMtFGwK/five-ways-to-burst-your-social-media-bubble. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Farnam Street (2017) How filter bubbles distort reality: everything you need to know. Available at: https://fs.blog/2017/07/filter-bubbles/. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Grimes, D. (2017) Echo chambers are dangerous – we must try to break free of our online bubbles. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2017/dec/04/echo-chambers-are-dangerous-we-must-try-to-break-free-of-our-online-bubbles. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Level Up Your Referencing: Cite Them Right

A person writing at a deskYou already know that referencing is important – it not only gives credit to the original creator of a work you have used but also helps to highlight your skills as a researcher; showing that you have read around your topic, found relevant information, applied it to your arguments and used it to develop your own ideas.

However, when it comes to referencing, all of those punctuation rules, different styles and the vast array of document formats can seem overwhelming. Happily, we’ve got a great resource to help you work out your references in three easy steps!

Cite Them Right:

‘Cite Them Right’ is a fantastic referencing guide that provides clear instructions and examples for how to reference a wide range of documents including books, journals, websites and audio-visual materials.  Available as both a physical textbook and an online tool, ‘Cite Them Right’ helps you to format your references correctly using Harvard, American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA), Modern Languages Association (MLA), Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA), Vancouver or Chicago referencing styles.

(Remember to always use the referencing style recommended by your school.)

Three steps to an accurate reference:
  1. Search for the type of document you want to reference on Cite Them Right online using the search box at the top right of the screen or by browsing the drop down menus at the top of the page.
  2. Select the referencing style you need from the drop down menu at the top of the page.  This defaults to Harvard (author-date).
  3. Follow the example references given, copying the format to create your own reference in the ‘You Try’ box.

Why not have a go and create a reference for this blog post!

If you need some more advice on how to reference, take a look at our video from the Library’s Managing Information guide:

 

 

Put Your Skills to the Test: Escape Room Mini Game

Time to put your skills to the test!

As part of our ‘Level Up Your Academic Skills’ event we will be running an exciting ‘Escape Room’ mini challenge across three different locations this week.

In teams of 2-3 people you’ll be tasked with solving a series of puzzles against the clock, with the fastest team set to win a prize!

To take part, drop by our Academic Skills displays at the following times:

Walton Library – Tuesday 19 March from 13:00-14:30

Philip Robinson Library – Wednesday 20 March from 10:00 – 12:00

Marjorie Robinson Library – Friday 22 March from 10:30-12:00

Taking you to the next skills level

Have you heard about ASK? It’s the University’s one-stop-shop for academic skills.

Are you concerned about being accused of plagiarism? Having some difficulty with statistical analysis? Struggling to write a persuasive argument in your essay? Feeling like you’re not able to manage your lecture, seminar and assignment workload? Or perhaps you are a master procrastinator who needs to just crack on with some work. The ASK (Academic Skills Kit) can help!

Signposting you to the services, resources and support available across Newcastle University, it will help you identify where to go for advice and support to improve your study habits and develop skills that are invaluable for University and what comes after.

ASK directs you to the correct place for support and includes online resources such as quizzes and videos, to help you better understand where you may need to grow.

Why not start with the myth busting quiz developed by the Writing Development Centre for some quick tips on how to study well?
Image of study myths quiz

Library liaison team: get the lowdown

Who are we?

As you may guess from the name, the Library’s liaison team role is to liaise with the academic Schools at Newcastle University, to help us plan and deliver excellent Library services which meet the needs of staff and students. There are over twenty of us, and we’re a friendly bunch: you should get to know us!

What do we do?

Broadly speaking, our remit falls into three main areas:

Collection development

In other words, making sure the Library’s information resources are suitable for current research and teaching needs. So we’ll liaise with Schools about reading lists,  discuss resource requirements for new modules and programmes, and arrange and evaluate trials of major databases. We’ll also help you get the best out of our resources, via our subject guides and resource guides, and of course, this blog!

Help and guidance

We’re here to help you get the best out of the Library. Every year, we deliver several hundred hours of teaching to students from all Schools and at all levels: from big lectures to small practical workshops, covering topics such as literature searching, subject resources, reference management and more. We’ve also developed a wide range of high quality online learning resources, including guides, videos and quizzes, to help you develop your academic skills.

We can also answer individual queries (see our contact information below). The Library’s excellent Library Help service will probably answer most of your questions, but for more specialist subject queries, we’re happy to help. You can also book a one-to-one appointment with us for more in-depth guidance (for example, to discuss your dissertation literature search).

Relationship management

No, that doesn’t mean we’re marriage guidance counsellors or agony aunts! It simply means keeping in touch with staff and students in our Schools: finding out what’s going on, and keeping you up to date with what we’re up to. We do this in various formal and informal ways, including attending meetings and events in the Schools (everything from Student Voice Committees to PGR student conferences); producing regular newsletters; using social media; and just generally being nosey!

How can you get in touch with us?

You can find the contact details for the liaison team for your subject area here.  We recommend you use the subject team email addresses, rather than emailing an individual person. That’s because some of us work part-time, or may be away:  emailing the team will ensure you’ll get a prompt answer.

How to use flashcards for effective revision

Build your bag of tricks and special skills

Image of pixel people student with subject support url

We’re probably all familiar with the fact that the library is where you find the books, but this month, why not explore all of the other types of information that can add to your academic skills bag of tricks. The library’s Resource Guides draw together the best resources available, organised by the type of information rather than subject area.

So if you are trying to find historic newspapers, company financial data, market research, standards or images you will find a resource guide for all of that!

Market research resource guide homepage

The guides are updated all the time as we add new subscriptions to our collection or identify online resources that we think will be useful for teaching and research. You’ll find the Resource Guides on the library website and as quick links on every Subject Guide.

Resource guide quick links from the subject guides

We’ve also highlighted the Resource Guides that are most commonly used for your subject area in the Specialist Resources section.

Specialist resources quick links image

So next time you need to find a newspaper article, a government paper or some statistics to analyse, visit the Resource Guides to help you identify where to look.