Reading Lists: Make the most of your Library’s Resources

Are you at the beginning of your student journey? Do you maybe not know where to start reading for an elaborate assignment?

Or maybe you have been studying for a while? Did you get used to browsing our shelves and now things are changing? Do you need to go back to the basics?

Either way, you may think that you could use some guidance on how best to use your module Reading List and even go beyond these recommendations and explore the wider resource that the Library provides.

Seek no further! Please have a look at the Thinglink we have put together for this exact purpose!

Get more out of JSTOR!

JSTOR is one of our most popular academic databases, and you may be one of the many people who uses it regularly. It provides access to thousands of journal titles, books and other resources.

We subscribe to many of its collections, giving us access to thousands of journal backruns, spanning many decades and subject areas, together with 6,500 Open Access books (all catalogued on Library Search), and over 1.3 million images, videos and audio files, via Artstor Public Collections.

But are you getting the best out of JSTOR? Read on to find some tips and features you might not know about…..

Advanced search

JSTOR is a very large, multidisciplinary database, so a simple keyword search won’t usually be the most effective way to search it. Click on Advanced Search to get more options which will give you better control over your search: for example, just searching in certain fields (e.g. author or abstract) or limiting your search by date, resource type, language or subject area.

Text analyser

This exciting new feature enables you to drag and drop a document, and JSTOR will then process your document’s text to find the most significant topics and recommend other documents within its database. Try it out!

Workspace

Using Workspace, you can save, organise, and share your sources, including non-JSTOR content. You can also add notes and generate citations in many popular formats. You need to create an account on JSTOR in order to use this feature.

Text mining

Data for Research (DfR) provides datasets of JSTOR content for use in research and teaching. Data available through the service include metadata, n-grams, and word counts for most articles and book chapters, and for all research reports and pamphlets. Datasets are produced at no cost to researchers, and may include data for up to 25,000 documents.

Further help

You can get more help with JSTOR by clicking on Support at any time, or visit their specialised library guides for a more in-depth focus on particular topics. For the very latest JSTOR developments, tips and features, follow @jstor on Twitter.

Spruce up your referencing: When is a website not a website?

Photo by Dominik Dombrowski on Unsplash

We have all heard it said that languages spoken in northern arctic regions have considerably more words for snow than those spoken in southern climates. When dealing with something in detail every day it is often helpful to categorise and clarify its nuances.

A common mistake made in academic referencing is grouping all sources found online under the overarching category of a website. However, your aim should be to reference the information you have in front of you rather than where it was sourced. Grouping all items found online as a website would be the equivalent to referencing a book only by the publisher details, rather than the author and title. Or, by referring to both a snowball and a snowflake as simply snow.

For example, a government publication found online would be referenced like this in Chicago:

United Kingdom. Department for Education. Cloud computing: how schools can move services to the cloud. London: The Stationary Office, 2016. Accessed: November 4, 2019. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cloud-computing-how-schools-can-move-services-to-the-cloud. 

An electronic journal article might appear like this in APA:

Gillum, J. (2012). Dyscalculia: Issues for practice in education psychology.  Educational Psychology in Practice, 28(3), 287-297. doi:10.1080/02667363.2012.684344

While a video posted on the Tate website would look something like this in Harvard:

TateShots (2016) Grayson Perry: think like an artist. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/talk/what-makes-artist-grayson-perry-conversation-sarah-thornton (Accessed: 11 November 2019). 

Identifying the type of information you are using, as well as the source, is an essential evaluation skill which helps in developing a greater critical approach to information. In many cases you will be unconsciously using your judgment to assess the value of information for your purpose. So when you are using any source of information, ask yourself what it is you are looking at, what details are recorded about it, and whether it measures up as a quality piece of information. You’ll find more guidance about evaluating information on our Evaluating Information guide.

Spotlight on Web of Science

Despite its name, Web of Science provides access to current and retrospective multidisciplinary information from approximately 8,500 high impact journals, including titles within their Social Sciences Citation Index®, and Arts & Humanities Citation Index™ collections.  Web of Science 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.

What does Web of Science include?

  • More than 20,000 journal, books, and conference titles
  • Over 69 million records
  • More than 90,000 books
  • Over 10 million conference papers

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.

Get started with Web of Science with these advanced search tips.

Warm up your referencing techniques


Referencing is the acknowledgement of the sources that you use in your work. You must reference all sources that you use in your assignments, projects or dissertations, and includes quotes, ideas, facts, images, videos, audio, websites, statistics, diagrams and data.

Over the next two weeks we will be producing a series of blogs focusing on how to reference successfully in your work. We will cover…

  • explain why referencing is important
  • advice on how to produce consistent and reliable referencing
  • help on how to manage your information to make your life easier and assignments less stressful
  • point you in the direction of where to find advice and help

So come in from the cold and warm up with some referencing help and keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming blogs.

Self Care Week: Top Tips

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Self Care Week is the 16th-22nd of November this year and we don’t know about you, but we think the timing is just right? In the midst of yet another lockdown and having to study / work mostly online, it gives us a chance to stop, breathe and assess whether we really are doing all we can to look after ourselves. It’s so easy in the midst of pressures and worries to forget about looking after our own wellbeing isn’t it? However, it’s even more vitally important to do it just now. So in light of this, we thought we would highlight some of the services and resources available to you at Newcastle University and some of our own recommendations for establishing positive habits.

Student Health and Wellbeing

http://www.picturesbybish.com/ | https://www.facebook.com/picturesbybish/

Student Health and Wellbeing work with local and national organisations to help to maximise your academic potential and allow you to have the best possible experience while you’re studying. They offer advice and assistance on many topics, from spiritual support to mental health counselling. You can find self-help resources and information here. They are currently offering online services so do make the most of the support that’s there……..they really are some of the most skilled, approachable and nicest people we have met.

iNCLude

iNCLude is a free app aimed at helping develop positive behaviours to ensure you’re focussing on more than just academic studies. The app centres on several themes: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give. There’s space to record your feelings in a mood journal and information on campus wellbeing events through your personal feed. It’s available to download on android and apple devices so do check it out.

Silvercloud

Silvercloud is a suite of online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) programmes, which can be tailored to your specific needs. It is free and can be accessed anywhere on a PC, tablet or mobile phone. The modules on Silvercloud can be worked through at your own pace and a practitioner from Student Services can help you navigate through the programmes. To find out more and sign up, go to the Silvercloud website.

TalkCampus
TalkCampus is a new mental health service based around peer support, which comes in the form of a free-to-download app. It is perfect if you’re struggling and are worried about your mental health, as it enables you to talk with other students from around the world in a safe and secure way. All you need to gain access to this service is your student email address, but rest assured your identity and location is protected and no-one at Newcastle University will know if you’re using it or not. The app itself is moderated by the TalkCampus team and although it is not a replacement for student wellbeing services, it does help you to connect with other students going through similar issues to your own. It may be a stepping stone for you for getting more help or it might be sufficient in it’s own right. Do check it out if you think it could be of some help.

Be well@NCL

Be well@NCL is a collection of tried and tested books chosen in partnership with Student Wellbeing and other health professionals, so you know you can trust them. The books deal with issues that we all go through at some point in our lives, and even more so at the moment. Topics include stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems, eating disorders, depression, OCD, fears, bereavement and so much more. Find out more about our collection on the Be well@NCL website or on the iNCLude app. Some of the collection is accessible in eBook format, while others you can order and pick up through our Click and Collect Service.

Responsible studying

This year has been like no other hasn’t it? We are all having to adapt to this new world of Zoom, teams and online Canvas content and it can feel overwhelming and draining. We’ve tailored specific content within The Academic Skills Kit (ASK) website that helps develop positive study habits for these times, such as studying online, independent learning, motivation, time management, online assessment plus much more. Visit our website to see the range of advice and support available.

Rosie, a Library assistant at the Walton Library, is a fan of the Pomodoro Technique when studying. She says:

“This technique has changed my life! If you are a procrastinator and/or you’re easily distracted, you need to try it – you set a timer on your phone for 25 minutes, work hard on your task for that period and then reward yourself with a 5 minute break. After you’ve done that 4 times, take a longer break.

Breaking work up into chunks with rewards in between means that you get more done than if you try to work non-stop for hours, and it’s easier to start an assignment when you know you only have to work at it for 25 minutes at a time. This technique is better for your stress levels and mental health than beating yourself up for leaving assignments until the last minute.”

Creative activities
Taking a break from your work to do desk yoga, colouring in or origami is beneficial in the long run – it’ll help you increase focus, retain information and maintain top performance.

There’s a variety of activities you can do while taking a break from studying, for example:

  • Check out the online programmes put together by some of our schools, such as the visiting speakers’ programme from the Department of Fine Art, the live lunchtime concerts put on by our Department of Music or the literary events put on by the Newcastle Centre of Literary Arts.
  • Join a society run through the Students’ Union. These are a great way to meet new people (even if they have to be virtual at the moment). Check out the upcoming events on Students Union webpages and add activities to your diary.
  • Simply going for a walk, run, cycle can do you the world of good. Enjoy and breathe that fresh air.
  • Ring a friend or a family member and have a good chat. Connecting with others can make such a huge difference.
  • Learn a new hobby or pick up something that’s fallen by the wayside such as playing an instrument, drawing, crafting etc.

Stacey, a Library assistant at the Walton Library, likes to knit to improve her mental wellbeing. She says:

“The health benefits of knitting have been known for a while. A 2007 study conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute found that knitting lowers heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute and induces an “enhanced state of calm,” as the repetitive movements release serotonin which can lift moods and dull pain.

Knowing this and gaining the ability to watch your toddler running around wearing clothes you’ve made is a wonderful feeling, as if you are covering your loved ones with wool and love – the only downside is cost (and explaining a million times it isn’t just for old ladies!) Knitting gives me that ‘enhanced state of calm’, or the ability not to be totally radgie ALL of the time, which is essential for my wellbeing.”

14 day self care challenge
It’s easy to read a blog like this and think yeah, yeah, I know what I should be doing but we often find it hard to put it into practice? Why not commit with us then to looking after yourselves better for the next 14 days and take the self care challenge, created by our lovely Library Assistant Rosie. We’d love to hear how you are getting on so do get in touch:

Image of 14 day self-care activities.

Spotlight on Scopus

Have you ever found yourself asking any of the questions below?….

  • Where can I find relevant, high quality information for my research?
  • How can I track who has cited an article since it’s publication, as well as looking back on the references it used?
  • How can I follow an academics work?
  • Who can I collaborate with in my research?
  • Which journal should I submit my paper to?
  • Where can I find information to support my research funding application?

…..If you have, then why not take a look at Scopus and use it as your starting point? You can access it through Library Search or through your subject guide in the ‘Journals and Databases’ section.

Whatever subject you are studying, Scopus is one of the databases that you need to get to know. It is a large multi-disciplinary abstract and citation database of peer reviewed literature. It contains over 69 million records, including journal articles (from 22,000 titles), conference papers, books (20,000 new book details added every year) and book chapters. However, it doesn’t just have a list of results for you to wade through, but it has a series of smart tools which help you track and visualise the research as well. You can search for documents, sources, authors and institutions and compare and contrast them using a variety of different tools.

If you are wondering if Scopus is for you, then check out the video below. And if you are already a user of Scopus, then why not listen to one of their webinars to get the best out of the resource or check out the Scopus blog for tips and tricks. Happy exploring!

See Scopus basic search in action.
Scopus is an excellent resource to use to help you expand your search by focusing on specific authors and cited reference searching.

New resource on trial: Mass Observation Module 1: 1980s

The Library has the Mass Observation Project: 1980s archive on trial until December 4th 2020.

This is the first module in a new Mass Observation series which will eventually cover the 1990s and 2000s.

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. We already have access to the original project archive, which covers 1937-1967.

The 1980s module includes directive (survey) responses from observers on a wide range of issues, covering political and social themes, 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.

When you access content in Mass Observation 1980s, you’ll be asked to log in.

Choose UK Access Management Federation, select Newcastle University (not University of Newcastle!) and then you’ll be prompted to log in with your Newcastle University username and password.

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 filter your search as required.

You can also use the Advanced search box at the top of the screen to search for specific topics.

The trial ends on December 4th 2020. To help us evaluate it, please email us your feedback, or leave a reply on this blog.

Resource in focus: Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)

Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA) indexes and provides abstracts of journal articles, books, book chapters and dissertations on linguistics and language sciences including topics such as:

  • Anthropological linguistics
  • Applied linguistics
  • Descriptive linguistics
  • Discourse analysis
  • Language – pathological and normal
  • Learning disabilities
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Psycholinguistics

It’s an excellent resource for those interested in the nature and use of language.

Screen shot of the LLBA search box.

The database provides both basic and advanced search options and you can limit your results by information (source) type, publication date, subject, language and more.  You can also limit to peer reviewed items only.  While some full text items are available, LLBA item records generally provide only bibliographic information and an abstract, so look out for the ‘Find@Newcastle’ button in your results page, which will help you check for a full text copy of an item in Library Search.

LLBA has the advantage of including a specialised linguistics thesaurus, which you can use in advanced search to refine and focus your search. The thesaurus provides a searchable list of all the subject terms used in the database and highlights links between broader, narrower and related terms, helping you to select all of the keywords relevant to your topic.

Screen shot showing the LLBA thesaurus and advanced search screen.

ProQuest provide a helpful and detailed guide to LLBA which includes search tips for basic and advanced search as well as some sample searches you can work through to familiarise yourself with the database. 

Decoding your reading list

In the past few weeks you have probably been presented with module handbooks for everything you’re studying, with a list of references to things you are being told to read. Sometimes these will all be in the same referencing style and formatted in a way that you can understand easily what type of information it is. But sometimes, it might be more tricky to work out what exactly it is you are looking for. You can find yourself searching for a journal article, only to discover that it’s a book chapter, and you’ll never find it in a journal database.

If you are feeling a bit confused by your reading list, don’t worry. It’s a common problem and decoding references does get easier as you become more familiar with the referencing conventions of your subject.

There are some easy things to look out for in your references that will help you identify what type of information it is, and the key details, such as the author and title, that you would need to use in order to find it successfully. Take a look at the examples in the gallery to see what to watch out for.

Reference for a book in the Harvard style with the title in italics.
Reference for a book chapter in the Harvard style which includes the chapter and whole book title.
Reference for a journal article that includes the article title, volume and issue of the journal.
Reference for a website in harvard style which includes a url and accessed date.

Your reading list is also linked from your module course on Canvas. Individual items on your reading list will link through to Library Search, showing you print book availability and linking to e-book and e-journal full text wherever possible. This means you wont need to do a separate search.

Find out more about reading lists on the Library website.