We’re delighted to announce that the Library has now bought the latest instalment of the Mass Observation Online collection, covering the 1980s and 1990s.
About Mass Observation
Mass Observation is a pioneering project which documents the social history of Britain by recruiting volunteers (‘observers’) to write about their lives, experiences and opinions. Still growing, it is one of the most important sources available for qualitative social data in the UK. This latest instalment is a great resource for anyone researching aspects of late twentieth century Britain. It complements our existing access to the original Mass Observation project archive, which covers 1937-1967.
The 1980s and 1990s modules include hundreds of directive (survey) responses from observers on a wide range of issues, covering major political and social themes of the period from Thatcher to Blair, as well as everyday life. There are also photographs, leaflets, and other ephemeral materials, as well as contextual essays and timelines to help you interpret the collection.
Searching and browsing
You can browse or search Mass Observation in various ways.
Browse by directive: browse the different directives (surveys), which are arranged chronologically and by topic.
Browse all documents: browse all the individual documents, and then further filter your search as required.
You can also use the Advanced search box at the top of the screen to search for specific topics.
We’d recommend you start by reading through the Introduction (top menu) which explains more about the project and the different document types. If you’re looking for ideas about how to make use of it, take a look at the Research Tools, which includes essays, videos, exhibitions and chronological timelines.
Note that as over half the materials in these collections are handwritten, the database enables Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) to help you search. We would recommend you read about how HTR works, to help you get the best out of the database, in the Introduction section.
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.
Our Recommend a Book service for students allows you to tell us about the books you need for your studies. If we don’t have the books you need, simply complete the web form and we’ll see if we can buy them. For books we already have in stock, if they are out on loan please make a reservation/hold request using Library Search.
We’re pleased to announce that the Library has bought access to the new BAR Digital Collection, following a successful trial earlier this year.
This online collection, from one of the world’s largest academic archaeology publishers, gives full text access to over 3,100 titles published from 1974 to date. The collection includes both BAR’s British and international series, and covers archaeological research, excavation reports and other important series from around the world. Publications are mostly in English, as well as some in Italian, German, French and Spanish.
You can browse or search the entire collection in various ways (e.g. by location, author, subject, time period or series). Each report is also individually catalogued on Library Search (here is an example).
Get the latest news and features about this collection on Twitter.
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.
As part of the University’s Be Connected week, we ran a webinar focusing on newspapers and audio-visual resources, highlighting the benefits of using these fantastic resources and how to get the most out of our databases.
If you missed out on the webinar – fear not! We’ve put together a handy summary of key resources and take-aways for you to explore. Presentation slides from the webinar can also be found at the end of the blog.
Why are newspapers and audio-visual resources useful?
Well, these resources can be an invaluable source of information as they offer different perspectives on events or topics, by offering commentary and opinions and art (via adverts or cartoons) that reflect the social, political and cultural attitudes of a particular place and time.
They’re a fascinating alternative to the more authoritative voice of journal articles and books – and while they obviously come with a range of bias and inevitable fake news, this presents unique opportunities for analysis and discussion.
Can’t I just use Google to find out about the news?
The main benefits of using Library resources over Google is access – while some newspapers, such as the Guardian, allow you to read their articles for free, most do not or if they do, you’ll find the page covered in annoying adverts and pop-ups. With our resources it’s simple to access, download and save articles or images from a wide range of newspaper sources.
Our databases also have tailored advanced search and filter options that help you to narrow down your search and find exactly what you need. Google does have some basic date filters and you can use the advanced search to limit to a particular source and document type but it’s not as simple or intuitive.
However, accessing newspaper websites via Google does offer the option of browsing through the day’s news articles, and provides the associated pictures and photographs, which are lacking in some of our databases.
Where can I find the Library’s newspaper archives?
The Library provides access to a wide range of UK and international newspapers from the 17th century to the present day, mainly in online format. You can access and find information about all these resources on our Newspapers Guide.
As a starting point, we’d recommend trying Lexis for current news and Gale Primary Sources for historic news archives. Both of these resources allow you to search a wide range of sources at once and both have great search tools!
You can watch the video guides below to learn how to use these databases:
Are there any other useful resources related to news and the media?
For TV and radio news programmes, you might like to take a look at Box of Broadcasts, which provides access to broadcasts from over 65 channels dating from 2007.
If you’re more interested in media commentary and analysis, the Film and Television Index provides coverage on film and television theory, writing, production, cinematography, technical aspects, and reviews, while Statista offers insights and data on the newspaper and television industries.
Join us for a summer of connecting and learning with our two-week programme of online supportive sessions for Be Connected (w/c 14th June 2021), and end your academic year (or start your summer!) on a positive note.
Throughout Be Connected weeks the Library, Academic Skills team, and Writing Development Centre are hosting a series of online live events that will help you enhance those all-important academic skills. We will also be highlighting our very best resources, so you’ll have a host of useful tools and advice at your fingertips.
A good place to start
Now is a great time to take a step back and assess your academic skills, review your deadlines, and organise your research. Join the Academic Skills Development team for an essential workshop on Time Management or sign up to a session to work on academic skills for your dissertation. The Library’s live session on ‘Getting the most from your search strategy’ will give you the tools to improve your search skills, particularly if you are undertaking a Systematic Review:
As you embark on your dissertation or research project there are many ways the Library, Academic Skills Development team and Writing Development Centre can advise and support you with your reading, notetaking, searching, and critical thinking. Our live Dissertation and Literature Review sessions are designed to help you at each stage of your research, whether you’re looking to plan your next steps, or add in finishing touches before submission. Also check out a fantastic session from our Special Collections and Archives team, which highlights how you can use our incredible collections for your research.
You might feel confident with your academic skills, but maybe some of those abilities could use a little bit of fine-tuning? Take time during Be Connected to hone your skills with the help of our live sessions. Referencing and referencing management can easily fall off your list of priorities, so to help you keep on top of all those citations and bibliographies the Library will be looking at common referencing problems and where to find help. Or you might like to investigate some of our subject specialist resources, such as newspapers, audio-visual, company information or market research:
During these two weeks the Academic Skills Development team want to hear from you at two focus groups to gather feedback on the redevelopment of the Academic Skills Kit website and to inform the creation of future resources:
Everyone has goals, be that for lifestyle, health, work or study. These goals give you focus, generate new habits and keep you moving forward in life. However, life is tough, particularly at the moment, so the thought of setting goals can sometimes feel overwhelming. This post will take you through how creating an action plan will help you clarify your goal journey; exploring what your goal is and why you’re setting it, what it will take to achieve, and how you will motivate yourself to reach your destination.
The examples we will focus on will be for study goals, however you can apply this method of goal setting to any aspect of your life.
1. Start with reflection
Before embarking on your shiny new goals, take some time to reflect on your previous goals. Which goals have you successfully achieved? Why were they a success? Is there anything you would do differently this time? Is there a common theme in the goals that you didn’t achieve, such as a lack of purpose?
Ask yourself ‘why’ you are setting this new goal, doing so will help you stay focused and give you meaning and purpose for this potentially challenging journey that you are embarking on.
2. Make them SMART
Your goals need to be SMART:
Specific – a specific and focused goal to allow for effective planning
Measurable – how will you measure the success of your goal?
Achievable – a goal that you will realistically accomplish within a time frame
Relevant – a goal that is important and benefits you
Time bound – a goal that has a realistic deadline
What is your goal and how can you make it SMART?
EXAMPLE: Your goal is to hand in your dissertation early this summer. This goal, as it is, may feel daunting and unachievable, so how can we make it SMART?
Specific – You want to hand in your dissertation two weeks early because you are going on holiday.
Measurable – You will set measurable targets daily/weekly, such as X amount of words written by X.
Achievable – You have 10 weeks to complete your goal, so you feel it is very attainable if you plan your time carefully (if you only had 2 weeks, you might want to reconsider your goal).
Relevant – This goal is very relevant as you need to do well in your dissertation so you can pass your degree, but you also need to complete it early so you can go on your booked holiday.
Time bound – You have a clear ideal deadline of two weeks before hand-in.
Use our Goal Setting Template to get you started on your SMART goal:
An action plan is a flexible checklist or document for the steps or tasks that you need to complete in order to successfully achieve the goal(s) you have set yourself.
This could be written in a notebook, diary or using the Action Plan Template we have created that you can print off and use. It’s important that you get out your pen and actually write your goals down on paper. Research has shown that this will engage the left-hand, logical, side of the brain – basically telling your brain that you mean business!
Use our Action Plan Template to put your SMART goal(s) into action:
There are always going to be challenges and events that may disrupt your goal, but instead of letting that obstacle derail you, plan for it.
Look at your study goal and identify what the obstacle(s) will be.
EXAMPLE: You want to submit your dissertation in early, but there’s a big family birthday coming up and a Uni field trip planned. So, get your action plan out and make sure these events are accounted for and plan your studies around them.
5. Check it off
There is nothing more satisfying in life (well apart from popping bubble wrap) than crossing or checking items off a to-do list – it’s that sense of accomplishment, feeling like you are finally getting there, which in turn reduces stress. So remember to break down your goal into small attainable actions and checklists, and for big projects, such as a dissertation or research project, you might have multiple checklists on the go. Just think of the satisfaction you will feel when it’s all done!
6. Reward yourself
This a very personal aspect of goal setting, but an important one.
To boost your motivation we recommend that you choose a reward for all your successful hard work, but select something that’s in relation to the size of the goal – maybe a piece of cake for getting a First Class degree is a bit out of proportion! Add this reward to your action plan and remind yourself of your incentive on a regular basis. It will keep you motivated when you feel like giving up.
EXAMPLE: If you hand-in your dissertation early you will treat yourself to a night out with your friends before you go on holiday.
7. A bit more reflection
You made this goal for a reason – it’s something that you really, REALLY want to achieve, so if your plan isn’t working, change it! Take some time to reflect on what’s working or not working in your action plan, be that daily, weekly, or monthly. Consider – How are you progressing? What changes can you make to bring you closer to your goals? It hard to keep on track when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, so are there any quick wins to give you a sense of accomplishment?
EXAMPLE: It’s late at night, you’re tired and struggling to write your dissertation conclusion. Your self-given deadline is in a days time and you are starting to doubt that your goal is achievable – maybe you need to postpone the holiday?
What you need to do is pivot your method – this isn’t working, so what can you change to still achieve your goal? Maybe leave the conclusion for the morning when you feel more awake, but spend the next hour focusing on your reference list so you can tick that off your action plan instead.
Your SMART goals can be about anything and should be quite simple to plan. There’s lots of help online on using SMART goals, but working your way through the acronym for your particular goal is an excellent start. Don’t forget to use our Goal Setting Template and our Action Plan Template to help keep your goals manageable and reduce that feeling of overwhelm with your studies.
I actually enjoy a good conspiracy theory, and they often make for great film or TV tropes. Do you remember the end clip of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark where the American government are storing the Ark of the Covenant in a huge warehouse? Do you think this is true? Might governments be hiding top secret things from us in massive, unknown warehouses? I like to jest that I believe this is real.
However, it wasn’t until recently that I realised how dangerous really believing in conspiracy theories can be. Watching the storming of Capital Hill in Washington DC back in January this year, opened my eyes to how conspiracy theories could take hold and potentially endanger lives.
Like fake news, conspiracy theories have been around for a very, very, very long time. Here’s some that you might recognise:
Do you believe in conspiracy theories? Do you know anyone that really believes in them? Have you ever found it hard to talk to them about what they believe? In light of the conspiracy theories surrounding Covid-19, The European Commission have created 10 useful infographics to help people be aware of conspiracy theories, how they spread, the dangers of them, how to talk to people who do believe in them, and (like fake news), how you should think twice before sharing them online:
I found it particularly interesting to learn that it is basic human nature to question reality in periods of uncertainty/change/major incidents (such as the pandemic, 9/11, shootings of presidents etc.), hence this is often when conspiracy theories take off.
You’ll find these infographics on our Fake New Guide , along with other new content including links to some excellent videos and articles. Be sure to take our poll to share your favourite conspiracy theory movie too!
As a University student, it’s important for you to be aware of conspiracy theories; to know of the dangers they pose, to check your own beliefs and to be careful of what you share online. Use these resources to learn more and always remember, the truth is out there…