Top tips for tackling online assessments

Woman throwing books up in the air

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Even in a ‘normal year’, exam time is always a tricky period. You will often be juggling different exams, trying to revise, as well as meeting other deadlines. This year, it’s made even harder by Covid-19 and the need to take online assessments, rather than traditional exams. This may come in the form of a 24 hour take home exam or you may need to produce coursework under time constraints. Whatever you are facing in the next few weeks, we want you to know that you aren’t alone and we are here to help you through.

But how exactly can we help? Sadly, we can’t do the exam with you, or magically freeze time to give you more hours in the day, but we have a list of resources that will hopefully help you tackle the next few weeks with more of a sense of calm.

  1. Online Assessment guidance – put together by the Writing Development team, these pages will take you through how to revise for a 24 hour take home exam, what to do before hand, as well as running you through exam technique and how to tackle coursework under time restraints.
  2. Library Help – whether you have a question about an essential text or access to a database, Library Help is the place to go when you have a question. Contact us via chat, email, text, twitter, Facebook or alternatively search our Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) database.
  3. Subject guides – these guides, put together by your Liaison Librarians, are designed to save you time and energy by drawing together the main resources for your subject. They are a great starting point for your research and will help you access high quality information that’s needed for you to get those top marks.
  4. Skills guides – similar to the subject guides, our skills guides focus on how to find, evaluate and manage information. These are all essential skills which you will need during this assessment period, as well as throughout your degree.
  5. Book a one to one – both the Writing Development Team and the Liaison Librarians are available for an online one to one appointment. These appointments work best if you come with a specific issue to address. This will ensure that you get the most our of your time with us. You will need to book in advance.
  6. Additional support – it really is ok to ask for help. The pressures are real and can feel completely overwhelming. Do contact your module leader or supervisor if your struggling. You can also seek additional support from your NUSUStudent Wellbeing ServiceNightline and the University chaplaincy.

So good luck. Remember……pace yourself, access the help you need and believe that you can do this!

We’re here to help (even when we’re not)

Christmas scene with dining table

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 during the Winter break (Saturday 19th December 2020 – Sunday 3rd January 2021) and all other library buildings will be closed.  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 your University smartcard and. Visit the website for the Library vacation opening hours.

Have a question? Check the FAQs

We have an extensive database of frequently asked questions available on the Library website. You can search by keyword or browse by topic area and find answers to the most common questions. So whether you want to know how to access newspapers from the Library, how to book study space or get help with EndNote, check the FAQs to see if we have already answered your question.

Contact Library Help

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 4th January 2020. Enjoy the festive season!

Watch Christmas Films on Box of Broadcasts

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go
Take a look at the Christmas watch list, there’s plenty to watch, not miss
With Elf, Die Hard, and A Christmas Carol show…

Staff and students of Christmas past have selected some Christmas films to complement the Law in Literature collection. These are films to watch for fun and not with a specific law focus (although Miracle on 34th Street is there for your courtroom drama fix).

The ‘Law in Literature Newcastle University – Christmas Watch List‘ is available on Box of Broadcasts. Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is a FREE TV, film and radio streaming database that can be accessed through Library Search (University ID required, UK access only). Read more about BoB, including a review of a Law student’s film recommendation.

Take a look at the list of festive films, look at the other Law in Literature playlists, or search for films to complement your studies, and enjoy the well-deserved Christmas break!

Snowball your way to success by using EndNote

What is EndNote?

The official blurb on EndNote is that it is “…the industry standard software tool for publishing and managing bibliographies, citations and references.”

Have you drifted off yet? Don’t – read on!

EndNote takes a little getting used to and we recommend you familiarise yourself with it at the start of your research process. But as Library Staff, we wouldn’t spend a significant amount of time demonstrating and training our academic staff and students on what EndNote is, and how to use it, if we didn’t think it was valuable. It will save you a huge amount of time in terms of writing up your assignments.

Essentially, you can use EndNote to create and organise a personal library of resources relevant to your research. You can import references from Library Search, and a huge range of databases such as ScopusWeb of ScienceIEEE Xplore and Business Source Complete. You can ask EndNote to locate the full-text PDFs of the resources you are going to use in your research, and you can annotate them as you wish too. Did you know you can instruct Google Scholar to import references into EndNote? No? Try it. Finally, if you already have materials 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 your word processing software, e.g. 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.

Teach Yourself EndNote

Intrigued? You should be. Enrol on our Teach Yourself EndNote module on Canvas to become proficient in using EndNote. It might make your life easier down the line.

You can also take a look at our EndNote Guide. It 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, useful FAQs, and contacts for help, should you need it.

Finally, Newcastle University provides support for EndNote but it is not compulsory to use. You may prefer MendeleyZoteroRefWorks or another piece of bibliographic management software. That’s fine, whatever makes your referencing lives easier. Go on, give them a try.

Get wrapped up in OSCOLA 4th referencing style

What is OSCOLA?

The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) is the standard referencing format used by law students and anyone writing in a legal field.  It allows for exact referencing of cases, journals and statutes meaning that sources can be found quickly and accurately.

HELP!!!!!

OSCOLA can be a bit daunting at first, especially if you are unused to referencing, but don’t worry, we have a lot of help available.   Here are some top tips for getting to grips with OSCOLA from scratch or if you just need a refresher:

  1. Start by going to our library guide, where you will find tips and resources to build up your knowledge.
  2. Make sure you look at the page that gives specific information about the OSCOLA referencing style.
  3. Set some time aside and work through the Citing the Law Tutorial from Cardiff University. This will show you how to cite cases, legislation and secondary sources, as well as how to identify authors and quote.
  4. For quick “how do I”? questions, check out the OSCOLA quick help guide or Cite the Law’s A-Z referencing examples.
  5. And if you are trying to use OSCOLA and EndNote, don’t forget we have a handy guide for you.

And lastly, if you are in doubt, remember we are always here to help! Contact us via library help.

Spruce up your Referencing!

There are lots of different referencing styles, but which one is right for you?

Once you start creating citations and references, you need to consider referencing styles. There are hundreds of them out there and each has a slightly different set of rules about how citations and reference lists should appear in your text.

Most Newcastle University students use the Harvard at Newcastle style, but there is also Vancouver, IEEE, OSCOLAChicago, and many more.

Your lecturers will expect you to use one specific style and all of your citations and references should conform to that style accurately and consistently; same punctuation, same capitalisation, same everything. 

We have lots of help about using some of the popular referencing styles in our Managing Information guide.

The Cite Them Right website is also a valuable online resource that will show you how to reach the peak of an individual referencing style!

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!

Manchester University Press Hive: International Relations e-book collection

Manchester Hive banner logo

We now subscribe to the Manchester University Press Hive International Relations e-book collection. The collection provides 65 e-books written by leading names in the field covering key issues and debates on global issues such as foreign policy, gender, global ethics, environmental politics and terrorism..

Manchester International Relations aims to explore and analyse the critical approaches to the study of global issues – from authority; citizenship; foreign policy, gender, war and peace to global ethics; human rights; media; environmental politics and international law.

This online resource will help you understand contemporary international relations and the forces that are reshaping global politics in the 21st century by examining international political systems, international political theory, and developments in contemporary global politics throughout Europe, the USA, Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Managing your References: EndNote and OSCOLA

“Should I use EndNote as a way to manage my references?” is often a question we get asked. We wish that there was a simple answer to that question, but there isn’t! It all depends on how many references you have, how you like to work and if you are willing to make time to learn how to use EndNote properly. You see, while EndNote is tool that can make your academic life easier (for example, it can help you build a collection of references, insert references into your work and create bibliographies), it will only save you time, if you invest time NOW.

So if you’re using the OSCOLA referencing style and weighing up whether to use EndNote or not, then you might want to consider the following:

  • You need to have a good grasp of the OSCOLA fundamentals before you even start with EndNote. If you need a refresher on OSCOLA, then check out the OSCOLA referencing guide first before even looking at EndNote.
  • EndNote will not do EVERYTHING for you. You will still need to manually input and amend your references to ensure your footnotes and bibliography comply with OSCOLA.
  • Have you got the time to invest in EndNote before using it? We strongly recommend that you make a start using EndNote from the beginning, rather than in the middle or at the end, of your research.
  • How do you want to use EndNote? Some people decide to use it simply as a storage place for their references and PDFs and leave it at that. Others use it both as a storage place, as well as a tool to help them cite.

Still not sure? Watch the video below to see how to use OSCOLA style and the Cite While You Write feature in Word. Then take a look at the OSCOLA and EndNote guide and see if it’s something you’d like to start using.

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.