Have you ever needed to dive into a new topic but felt overwhelmed by the amount of research? See if a Very Short Introduction can get you started!
This series offers concise introductions to a diverse range of subjects—from artificial intelligence to folk music to medical ethics—in 35,000 words or less.
Each one of these big little books provides intelligent and serious introductions written by experts who combine facts, analysis, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make even the most challenging topics highly readable.
On our catalogue, Library Search you can search by keywords like in the screenshot below so “very short introduction” and browse through or add in Oxford to add in results for that publisher.
The University may be closed for the Christmas period but if you are studying, writing assignments or revising, library resources and help are always available. We may not be in the building, but the library team can help you with your semester 2 preparation.
Use your Library Subject Guide
If you are not sure which resources are best to use for your subject or what you can access off-campus, visit your Subject Guide . The guides bring together links and help for the specialist information sources in your discipline.
Visit the Library over the vacation
The Philip Robinson Library building will be open for the majority of the Winter break (Friday 24th December 2021 – Monday 3rd January 2022) but is closed on Christmas Day (Saturday 25th December) and New Year’s Day (Saturday 1st January). All other library buildings will be closed for the entire Winter break. If you need access to books and journals, or a quiet place to study, all you will need is to book your study space online and to bring your University smartcard to enter the building. Visit the website for the Library vacation opening hours. Please remember that it is currently mandatory to wear a face covering when moving around indoors in all university buildings (free masks are available at the Library Welcome Desk).
If you need help or have a question, use Library Help to get in touch with us. You can live chat with a librarian outside of the University to get immediate answers, or send us a message and we will get back to you when the University reopens.
So remember, you can access all of our online resources, journals and e-books from the Library website and we will be back in the Library on Tuesday 4th January 2022. Enjoy the festive season!
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.
Over the summer we moved to the newly revitalised Web of Science platform and the consensus amongst the Liaison Team is that it’s great! When asked the difference between Scopus and Web of Science and why you would use one database rather than the other, it is largely a question of personal preference and you when engaged in more advanced research you may need to use both databases.
If you are new to Web of Science the name may imply it is a science database, however it provides access to current and retrospective multidisciplinary information from approximately 21,000 peer-reviewed, high-quality scholarly journals published worldwide (including Open Access journals); over 205,000 conference proceedings; and over 104,000 editorially selected books within their Social Sciences Citation Index®, and Arts & Humanities Citation Index™ collections.
Web of Science also allows cited reference searching where you can navigate forward, backward, and through the literature, searching all disciplines and time spans to uncover all the information relevant to your studies.
Where to find Web of Science
You can access Web of Science from Library Search. This will help you to access the database successfully as you will be prompted to log in with your University username and password. Simply search for it by name from the Library website.
You will also find a link to on the Journals and Databases page of your Subject Guide, which provides a list and links to the recommended databases in your discipline.
Web of Science content
As we alluded to above, Web of Science includes much more than ‘science’ information, including:
life sciences, biomedical sciences
social sciences, arts & humanities.
strongest coverage of natural sciences, health sciences, engineering, computer science, materials sciences.
What’s new about Web of Science?
Start with this quick introduction to the new Web of Science to find out about the improved user interface and search functionality.
Get started with Web of Science with these advanced search tips tutorial and find out how you can be use the techniques most effectively in Web of Science.
Help with Web of Science
As the platform is new you may find that the database automatically begins with a guided tour, taking you through the main features as you begin your search. This is a great way to get to know Web of Science. There are also lots of tip sheets, videos and training resources to explore.
October is Black History Month, with the theme Proud to be: “inviting black and brown people of all ages throughout the UK to share what they are proud to be.”
On the Library’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) guide, we’ve highlighted books and other resources from our collections which focus on black British people and themes across many fields, such as politics, law, music, art, business and literature.
Please take a look, and if you would like to suggest books which you think we should add to our collection, we’d love to hear from you: just fill in our suggestion form.
Don’t forget to explore the other sections of our EDI guide too: it aims to curate and highlight information resources of all kinds, relating to different EDI themes. You’ll find books, films, social media, digital and physical archives and more. We’d love to get your recommendations for anything we’ve missed, and you can still catch up on our summer reading challenge if you’d like to be inspired, or inspire others.
You can read about Newcastle University’s events to mark Black History Monthhere.
If you’re looking for UK or international news from the last thirty years or so to today, then make sure you explore Nexis. The Nexis database has recently moved to a new platform (Nexis Uni): we think you’ll find it is easier to search than the old version, and it has some really useful features.
If you’re used to ‘old’ Nexis, don’t worry: the content on Nexis Uni is exactly the same, and you can still use the ‘expert’ search features if you want to.
What does it cover?
Nexis Uni enables you to search over 17,000 news, business and legal sources. This includes most UK national and regional newspapers, together with international sources, including newspapers, newswires and news magazines in multiple languages. Coverage of news titles often dates back to the 1990s and includes today’s news. Coverage is text only, and doesn’t include images, layout, adverts etc.
Nexis Uni also gives access to specialist business information, including dossiers on major UK and international companies, together with specialist legal information.
How to search news on Nexis Uni?
There are various ways to limit your search to newspapers/news sources, but the simplest is to select the News button from the Guided Search section:
Type in your search term (use ” ” if searching for a phrase), select your date range, and click Search.
Once your results are displayed, you can then further limit your search by date, publication type, location, language and more.
If you want to search news from a particular country, such as the UK, select Location by Publication>International> and then choose your continent and country.
If you would like to try more complex searching (e.g. searching in a particular section of the newspaper, or combining terms together in various ways), then click on Advanced search from the home page.
There is more detailed guidance about searching in the Nexis help centre.
Searching/browsing a particular newspaper
If you want to find a particular newspaper, choose Menu>All Sources, and then type the newspaper’s name in the Search within sources box. Click the three dot menu to get more information about coverage of the newspaper in Nexis Uni (NB ignore the phrase which says Archived source: no longer updated).
You can also use this route to add one or more newspapers as search filters, if you just want to search across certain titles only: to do this, type the newspaper title in the top search box entitled All Nexis Uni.
If you’re using Nexis Uniregularly, we’d recommend you create a Nexis account, which enables you to set up alerts (click the bell icon at the top of your results listing), save searches, annotate and bookmark items, and share these with others. You can read more about alerts here.
Please note: if you had previously set up alerts or saved searches on ‘old’ Nexis, they won’t migrate to Nexis Uni, so you’ll need to set them up again.
Should I use Lexis or Nexis for UK news searching?
The ‘news’ section on the Lexislegal database enables you to search UK national and regional (but not international) newspapers. Nexis Uniis produced by the same company, and should have the same UK news coverage as Lexis, though Nexis Uni also includes a wider range of news sources such as broadcast news and news wires. We also think you’ll find the Nexis search and personalisation options are better, and easier to use, so we’d recommend Nexis. However, you might prefer to stick with Lexis if you use it regularly for legal information.
After a recent trial we are delighted we have managed to secure access to SAGE Research Methods. This is an invaluable resources for anyone undertaking an independent research project or dissertation.
The platform contains thousands of resources, dedicated to the subject area of Research Methods. It supports all stages of the research process from: writing a research question, conducting a literature review, choosing the best research methods, analysing data, to writing up your results and thinking about publication.
It contains information suited to all levels of researchers, from undergraduates starting their first projects to research associates. Within the resource students will be able to access dictionary and encyclopaedia entries, book chapters, full books, journal articles, case studies, some datasets and streaming video from SAGE Research Methods Video. It includes online access to the complete Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences (QASS) series, aka the “The Little Green Books,” as well as the Qualitative Research Methods Series (QRMS), or “The Little Blue Books”
SAGE Research Methods includes a wealth of teacher resources and reusable materials for academics and module leaders to draw on and are licensed for educational use, allowing you to reuse materials and show videos within your teaching free of Copyright concerns. We think the platform will work well in conjunction with textbooks on research methods as well as some of the resources we have on our ASK website.
The Methods Map can be used to navigate methods, concepts and techniques via breakout diagrams. Whereas the Project Planner Tool is a step-by-step guide to starting, developing and completing a research project. The methods sections provide information on all aspects of the research cycle – including the formulation of research questions, research design, project management and data collection.
Coming soon, SAGE Research Methods will be embedded in Canvas as an LTI, allowing you to easily embed videos, learning materials, case studies and videos into your Canvas courses.
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.
The official blurb on EndNote is
that it is “…the industry standard software tool for publishing and managing
bibliographies, citations and references.”
EndNote takes a little getting used to and we recommend you familiarise yourself with it at the start of your research process. EndNote isn’t for everyone, but EndNote can save you a lot of time in terms organising and managing your references for assignments, dissertations or big research projects.
You can also ask EndNote to locate full-text PDFs for references and annotate the documents within EndNote. Finally, if you already have PDFs 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 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.
Take a look at our EndNote Guide which 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, and useful FAQs.
Finally, Newcastle University provides support for EndNote but it is not compulsory to use. Take some time to explore alternative referencing management tools such as Mendeley, Zotero, RefWorks which might suit you better.
For further training, you might want to have a look at Clarivate’s training calendar. They also have really useful Question and Answer sessions where you can ask them anything regarding EndNote. You can register for any of the training via their training calendar.
They also have an excellent suite of training resources which includes video tutorials, self-guided learning, PDF reference guides, live training and online guides for:
Following on from our Be Connected: Referencing session, this blog post covers the main points that we covered in our session. You will find links to key resources that we highlighted so you have them in one handy place.
You can also find a copy of our slides and a link to other useful referencing/managing information blog posts at end of this post.
The Managing Information Guide and the slides from the session give you the context of why it is import to reference and why you should be managing your information. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information out there (and that’s before you start your dissertation/project!), so getting into good habits it essential not only academically, but also for your wellbeing.
Why is referencing important?
It acknowledges the ideas and contributions of others that you have drawn upon in your work, ensuring that you avoid plagiarism
It highlights the range of reading you’ve done for your assignment and makes your own contribution clear, showing how you’ve taken ideas from others and built upon them
It enables the person reading your work to follow up on your references so they can learn more about the ideas you’ve discussed in your work or check any facts and figures.
How does referencing work?
Are there any tools that can help?
There are lots of referencing tools that can help you manage and format your citations and references correctly. Given where you might be within your dissertation or project it might not be best use of your time to start learning a new tool now. But if you are working with lots of references or still writing up most of your dissertation then a digital tool might save you some time in the long run.
A very useful online tool that lists all the information you need to include in a reference and provides examples of how a reference will look as an in-text citation and in a reference list.
Keep an eye out for this symbol on Library Search and Google Scholar. Clicking the button will provide the option for you to copy a reference in a particular style and paste it directly into your reference list. You might need to tidy it up a little bit but it will save you time over writing them manually.
Reference building tools help you to create a bibliography using the correct referencing style. You can input information manually or use import functions to pull information through from other webpages or documents. As with the citation button above, reference building tools can save you time but you may still need to check the references are accurate.
Reference Management Software: e.g. EndNote
If you are writing a detailed essay, dissertation or thesis, you may like to use a reference management tool such as EndNote, Mendeley or Zotero to help keep all of your references organised. This software allows you to manually add references or import them from Library Search, Google Scholar or Subject Databases; sort references into groups; attach pdf documents or add notes. You can then use the reference management software while you write to add in-text citations and format your reference list.
The University has a subscription for EndNote which is available in all University clusters and can be downloaded to your own personal device. You’ll find information about how to get started with EndNote on our EndNote Guide.
Remember: whatever tool you use, it’s always a good idea to get to know the conventions of the referencing style your school or lecturer would like you to use.
Need more help?
If you feel you need to work on your referencing a bit more, and still a bit unsure about it all, we recommend that you complete Cite them Right’s Referencing and Plagiarism tutorial – this is available within Cite them Right. You’ll need to log in then select the tutorial button on the top right of the homepage.