Change is coming to the Philip Robinson Library

This summer will see the refurbishment of key features of our main Level 2 space as we make it more welcoming, attractive, and efficient for all library users.

Work will be taking place between June and September 2019, during which a temporary service desk will be in place, and the Student Text Collection, exhibition space, book bins, and self-service units will be relocated. Drinks and snacks will still be available from a coffee cart whilst the café is being refurbished.

Library services will continue as normal.

  • The PC cluster, Your Space and silent study areas on Levels 3 & 4 of the library will remain accessible.
  • Student Text Collection texts and book reservations will be available.
  • Inter Library Loan and Research Reserve requests will be processed as normal.
  • You will still be able to issue and return items yourself.
  • Laptop, headphone, and short-term locker loans will be issued as normal.

However, there will be building work in progress during library opening times and there will be some noisy periods. Free disposable earplugs will be available at the Service Desk.

Alternative study spaces are available in WaltonLaw and Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms, and you can use the Find a PC on the University app to locate alternative cluster PC’s and check availability.

Building a better library experience

The modernised Level 2 space includes these new features:

  • a redesigned ‘Welcome’ point and ‘Library Help’ desk.
  • a reconfigured social learning space
  • an automated book returns sorter and new self-issue machines
  • a relocated exhibition space
  • a fully refurbished cafe

The works are due to begin week commencing 17th June. If you have any queries please speak to a member of Customer Services staff at the Service Desk or via Library Help.

We Are Here All Summer!

 

Stefan Schweihoter
pixabay

 

The University libraries will be open throughout the Summer vacation, you a can find the opening hours for each library here.   Please note that during self-service times, access to the building will be by Newcastle University Smartcard only.

However, there will be building work in progress during library opening times and there may be some noisy periods in some areas.  Free disposable earplugs will be available at the Service Desk.

You will still find the Liaison team on levels 3 and 4 of the Philip Robinson Library – we will be the ones wearing hard hats!

You can come to us for Endnote support and 1-1 sessions. Please book an appointment via Library help.

If you have an urgent question, and we are not physically around you will find 24/7 support via our out-of-hours Live Chat Service provided by a co-operative of academic librarians from around the world.

We hope you have a lovely summer!

 

Identify resources for your research project

A strong research project such as an essay, dissertation or thesis will always be supported by good quality information from a wide range of sources.  There are a huge variety of resources available to you and being able to make appropriate choices when selecting materials to include in your project and explain why you have chosen them, is an important academic skill that demonstrates a good awareness of your subject and an ability to think critically about ideas and research.

Of course, not all information resources will be relevant to your particular research.  You will have to think about the type of information you need then identify the type of resource that will provide that kind information.

For example:

Books will offer an in-depth overview of popular ideas, theories, and opinions in your subject area and are likely to be broader in scope than a journal article or conference paper.

While a conference paper will often discuss ‘work-in-progress’, and therefore can be an ideal way of finding out about up to date research and ideas.

For more information on different resource types, including standards, patents, maps, newspapers and more, take a look at our range of Resource guides.

Your Subject Guide can also help you identify useful sources of information for your research as it contains a carefully curated list of resources that are tailored to your subject area.  Here you’ll  find useful lists of online reference books, eBook collections and recommended databases for finding relevant journal articles and conference papers.  Also, under the Subject Specific Resources tab, you’ll discover a further host of specialised materials relevant to your subject such as audiovisual media, data-sets or professional organisation’s websites.

Screen capture of a Library Subject Guide, showing various tabs and resource links.

Depending on your research topic, you might also want to explore the Special Collections tab to see materials held in our Library archives that are relevant to your subject area specifically.

For more advice on finding and evaluating resources for your research take a look at our Finding Information and Evaluating Information Guides.

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).

Everyday life and Mass Observation

Mass Observation. Wow, sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? It should!

This resource offers revolutionary access to one of the most important archives for the study of Social History in the modern era. You can log in using your Newcastle University Campus ID and password to explore original manuscript and typescript papers created and collected by the Mass Observation organisation, as well as printed publications, diaries, photographs and interactive features dating from 1937 to 1972.

If you’re interested in learning more about the topics currently influencing our lives, it would do no harm to research the social history topics available within Mass Observation such as anti-Semitism, the economy, austerity, education, women at work, religion, mining, news, the Government, smoking, drinking, sexual behaviour, propaganda, unemployment and writing (to name just a few!).

Mass Observation home page

Mass Observation Diarist maps

If you want to know more about Mass Observation and to see some samples from the collection, then you could take a look at the Mass Observation Twitter feed, or there is a recorded webinar available for you to watch via YouTube in order to get the best out of the resource.

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.

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