Referencing: why bother?

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 how you have built on the knowledge 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.

 

 

Recipe for Referencing

recipe for referencing promotion image

What are the key ingredients to a successful recipe for referencing? Of all the enquiries we get in the Library, referencing is the most common.

Referencing is the acknowledgement of the sources that you use in your work. You must reference all sources that you use in your assignment, project or dissertation, including words and ideas, facts, images, videos, audio, websites, statistics, diagrams and data.

Over the next two weeks weeks we’re focusing on referencing, giving you the recipe for success. As a novice referencing baker, you might need a little help to understand the ingredients and methods for your referencing style.

We’ll tell you where to get advice and help

Understand why we reference and how

How to avoid plagiarism

How to manage your information to make your life easier and assignments less stressful, giving you the recipe for success.

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

Guest Post: A Review of Box of Broadcasts

BoB Screen GrabLaura-Jayne Beattie, a final year Law School student, takes a look at Box of Broadcasts, and reviews a film she watched using it (a Law Library favourite!).


BoB (Box of Broadcasts), available to all Newcastle University students regardless of degree discipline, is an excellent resource. Best of all, it’s FREE for students studying at Newcastle (just what a student wants to hear)! You just have to select the university from the list of institutions, sign in with your university login details (username and password), and away you go! You’re free to explore the thousands of television programmes, radio broadcasts and films available on the website. It’s incredibly easy-to-use, and reminds me a lot of Netflix, but is less guilt-free as most of these programs and films are education-related in some way. The broadcasts may relate to your degree or another academic interest of yours (e.g. psychology-related films).

You can watch live TV, or search (by name) for a pre-recorded film, radio show or television programme. The system holds over 2 million broadcasts, which have been shown on television or aired on the radio at some point since the 1990s. If you don’t have a specific film or programme in mind which you would like to watch, why not try out the advanced search feature? Click on the ‘Search’ icon, then on ‘Search options’, change as many or as little options as you like, and then hit ‘search’! A list of broadcasts matching your search criteria will be shown. I’m sure there will be at least one that interests you!

SCreen grab of BoBAfter a few minutes of exploring the website, I decided to choose a film from the ‘Law in Literature Newcastle University’ playlist. To find this, I clicked on the ‘Search’ icon (on the tab across the top) and selected ‘Public Playlists’. I then typed the playlist’s name into the search box. I was surprised at how many titles were available within this collection (all related to Law). I chose to watch ‘Legally Blonde’, a personal favourite of mine but one that I haven’t watched for years.

Here’s what I thought…

Legally Blonde’, a fun-filled film showcasing a story of love and success, shows Law in a new perspective and is a must-watch for any Law students (Yes, even you boys). It’s a feel-good film, and is motivational in terms of showing that anyone really can succeed if they put their mind to it! It’s particularly perfect for any law student who feels ‘out-of-place’ with the supposed societal ‘ideal’ of who should be studying law.

Defying all pre-conceptions derived from her appearance, Elle Woods gains a place at the prestigious Harvard Law school. While this was initially to follow her ex-boyfriend, who broke her heart just before he proceeded to study Law there, she soon develops a passion for Law and becomes top of the class. She helps to win a case while on work experience using her knowledge of fashion, and later delivers an inspirational speech at graduation saying words like “you must always have faith in yourself”. When making this speech, it’s clear from the smiles in the room that she has won the hearts of students and staff alike and made lifelong friends with her heart-warming personality. Graduating with a job in a high-ranking law firm, she puts her career ahead of everything and even rejects her ex-boyfriend who wanted her back towards the end of the film.

Legally Blonde’ relates to Law, as Elle overcomes sexual harassment while on work experience (Employment Law). Initially, Elle doesn’t report the man and decides to drop out of law school- possibly as she thought she wouldn’t be believed or that what happened wasn’t actually a crime (a common occurrence amongst victims in reality). Parts of Law lectures are filmed, and Elle overcomes stereotypes that are derived from her appearance (blonde female who evidently loves the colour pink) (Law, Gender and Sexuality). Despite not being a typical Harvard student, she still succeeds without letting these stereotypes stop her.

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.

 

Take off with our new dissertations and project toolkit!

Are you preparing a dissertation or project, or will be doing so soon?

Make sure you visit our brand new interactive dissertations and project toolkit. Based on the extensive experience of staff from the Library and Writing Development Centre, our new guide includes an interactive search planner, which takes you through the different stages of developing your search strategy, and enables you to create and download your personalised search plan.

The search planner is complemented by a project proposal planner, developed by our colleagues in the Writing Development Centre, to help you develop or refine your research proposal.

The guide also points you to further advice on a wide range of relevant skills, such as finding, managing and evaluating information. It also directs you to the key information resources for your subject area.

It’s easy to navigate, with clear text and short videos throughout. We hope you find it helpful, and if you’ve got any feedback, please let us know.

Reading Lists

Have you discovered your Reading Lists yet?

Reading Lists are what you need to access and read to get understanding of the subject on the module(s) you are taking. It’s not just the Library saying this – these lists came from your lecturers!

The Reading Lists are a list of essential, recommended and background reading for your module. Each item has a quick link through to Library Search (to find where the book may be on the shelves) or there could be a direct link through to the eBook or online journal article. It’s an efficient way of accessing your reading and can save you loads of time.

Library Information, Reading Lists on Blackboard

Log into Blackboard to access your Reading List; the link is on the Overview page of each module you are registered for.

Reading List example

If you have any questions about your Reading Lists then ask your lecturer, or if there is a technical issue then email readinglists@ncl.ac.uk for assistance.

Calling all second years!

Find out how to become a confident and effective user of digital search tools and resources.

Does the summer and your first year of uni seem like a distant memory? Are you starting to feel like the work has cranked up and that you need some extra help?

As we’ve been out on campus teaching and chatting to you lovely second years, you have been telling us that it’s got very serious all of a sudden and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. But never fear, the library has some great new academic skills guides to help you find, evaluate and manage your information in order to help you get those top marks for your assignments. These are transferable skills that will underpin all your work here at NU and which will ultimately help you get you that job you have always wanted.

So what are you waiting for? Save yourself some time and stress by getting your information skills up to scratch now. And remember, your friendly Library Liaison team is always here to help!