Winter Craft-along Online: Part 2

Winter Craft-along Online banner

As promised, here is our next instalment of Winter crafts – so glue guns at the ready for some more crafting antics.

As in our previous blog, we are embracing all things sustainable, and challenging you to make your crafts using materials found around the house. This time you will need an old jam jar, a pair of socks and some fruit!

Glass jar lanterns

For this one you will need an old, clean glass jar and some cheap PVA glue (the video says to use Mod Podge, but cheap PVA glue works just as good), tissue paper to decorate your jar and a tea light (real or battery operated). The video shows Christmas trees and snowflakes, but let your imagination run crazy – you could do a snowman, father Christmas, a snowy scene or a nativity. Really easy, but looks so effective, and who doesn’t love tea light lanterns when the nights are dark and cold.

No-sew snowmen

This is where your old (clean!) sock can be turned into a jolly snowman. For this you will need one white sock, some elastic bands or Loom bands, uncooked rice, 4-5 buttons (I bet you have some random buttons kicking about the house?), PVA glue, a bit of scrap ribbon or some wool for his scarf and then some more wool if you would like to make him a pom-pom for his hat. I am definitely going to have a go at making this – so easy, but looks so good.

Dried fruit garlands

I’ve been meaning to have a go at making these for ages, not only do they look good, but I bet it makes your house smell amazing! For this one you will need some citrus fruit – this can be oranges, limes, lemons, or even grapefruit – maybe you have some sitting in your fruit bowl that have seen better days and could be given a new lease of life? You can also use cloves and press them into the slices before you pop them in the oven, to make them smell so good. In the video is says the temperature in Fahrenheit – all of the blog and instructions I have read it just says to set your oven at the lowest temperature available on your oven. Cook low and slow and make sure you turn them over half-way through. You will also need string or twine to string them up. I have seen them on Christmas wreaths and as Christmas tree decoration – have a play and see what you can make with them.

Share the Joy

We would love to see your crafts, so why don’t you share a photo and tag us in Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and use the hashtag #NULWinterCrafts2020.

Look out for our final blog with a couple more crafts for you to try and inspiration from our Library staff.

Winter Craft-along Online: Part 1

For a few years now the Library has hosted Crafts at Christmas – a wonderful event that brings together staff and students into our Libraries for a time to unwind and focus our creative energies on some Winter crafts. Sadly this year we are unable to host our usual event, so instead we have created a series a blogs highlighting some excellent, but very simple, crafts that you can do in the comfort of you own home.

Our sustainability challenge

This time of year can be not only expensive but full of waste. So our challenge to you is to make these Winter crafts from as many materials that you have lying around the house as possible, such as old wrapping paper, last year’s Christmas cards, or old balls of wool lying around etc.. You’ll be amazed what beautiful crafts you can make out of the stuff you normally recycle or throw away.

3D paper snowflake

Last year I made these stunning 3D paper snowflakes out of the paper packing you get in your Amazon delivery! We make these snowflakes every year in our Crafts at Christmas events – they look really complicated, but are really easy. Why don’t you give them a go. All you need is paper, scissors, a stapler and sticky-tape…

Origami paper box

Another really simple paper craft, but instead of buying origami paper why don’t you make them out of old wrapping paper or even old, thin Christmas cards. These wee boxes are great for holding sweet treats for a loved one.

Recycled paperback folded Christmas tree

This is another super easy and very effective paper craft that you can do using an old book or magazine or catalogue. You don’t need any other materials other than the pages of the book, but you can decorate the tree afterwards if you like (I made origami lucky stars for the top of my tree):

Paper ball decorations

These are so pretty and all you need is string, glue and paper – we suggest using magazines and leaflets that you have had through the front door. Takeaway menus are great for it!

Share the Joy

We would love to see your crafts, so why don’t you share a photo and tag us in Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and use the hashtag #NULWinterCrafts2020.

Look out for Part 2 and Part 3 with even more crafts for you to try.

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.

Resources for Linguistics and Language History

The Library has lots of great collections and resources, so when it comes to finding wider reading for your topic or beginning research for your assignment or dissertation it might all seem a bit overwhelming.  Library Search can be a great place to start looking for information but there are many other resources you might want to try. To help you get the best out of our resources we’ve put together this list of some of the most useful online databases and collections for the study of Linguistics and Language History.

Let’s dive in!

Scopus

Scopus is a large, interdisciplinary database of peer-reviewed literature, providing an index of articles, book chapters, conference papers and trade publications. 

One of the main advantages of using Scopus is that it provides a lot of useful information about the articles it indexes. This includes full reference lists for articles and cited reference searching, so you can navigate forward and backward through the literature to uncover all the information relevant to your research.  You can also set up citation alerts, so you can be informed of new, relevant material automatically.

Video guide to expanding your search results in Scopus.

Scopus includes other smart tools that can help you track and visualise the research in your area, including author and affiliation searching, visual analysis of search results, a journal analyser, and author identifier tools. You’ll find tutorials and advice on using these features in the Scopus support centre and on their YouTube Channel.

JSTOR

JSTOR provides access to full-text materials including scholarly journals, books and book chapters in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. It has basic and advanced search options that allow you to search by topic keyword, author, subject area, title or publisher.

Screenshot showing the JSTOR homepage

Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)

Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts is an excellent resource for those interested in the nature and use of language.  The database focuses on academic resources for the study of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, and descriptive, historical, comparative, theoretical and geographical linguistics.

LLBA has the added 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 thesaurus in LLBA.

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. 

The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics

The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics is a comprehensive online reference work covering 27 key areas of the field, including Language Learning and Teaching, Bilingual and Multilingual Education, Assessment and Testing, Corpus Linguistics, Conversation Analysis, Discourse and Technology and Language.  You’ll also find over 200 entries on the philosophy and history of applied linguistics and biographies of key applied linguists.

You can browse the Encyclopedia by topic or look for keywords using simple or advanced searches.

Accents and Dialects

Accents and Dialects is a searchable database of English accent recordings from the British Library Sound Archive.  Recordings include early spoken word snippets from the 1890s onwards, Opie’s collection of children’s songs and games, an evolving English word bank, and a survey of English dialects.  Each recording includes a detailed description, and some include additional linguistic descriptions too.   Most recordings can be downloaded for academic use.

You can browse the database by project, county, or date.  You can also use the search box on the top right of the page to look for specific keywords, including dialects or places.

Screen shot of the Accents and Dialects homepage.

The British Library have also developed an interactive timeline showing the evolution of the English language from the 11th Century to the present day.  This requires Adobe Flash to view.

The Cambridge History of the English Language

The Cambridge History of the English Language is a six-volume work providing an authoritative account of the history of English; from Old English through to modern variations in Britain and overseas. Each volume gives a chronological overview of the data, links to scholarship in the area and considers the impact of current and developing linguistic theory on the interpretation of the data.

You can access volumes individually on Library Search or sign in via institutional login at the link above to browse all volumes together.

Historic Newspapers

The Library provides access to several million digitised pages of historic newspapers, dating from the seventeenth century.  We have all UK broadsheet archives online (e.g. The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph) as well as titles which are strong in arts and culture coverage, such as the Times Literary Supplement.

If you want to search across a range of historic new sources, start with Gale Primary Sources, as this gives access to all our British newspaper archives, except The Guardian and The Observer. Gale also has a useful tool called term frequency that allows you to track the history of particular words and phrases.

Screen shot from Gale showing term frequency for Fake News.

You’ll find an overview of all our News resources on our Newspaper Guide.

Box of Broadcasts (BoB)

Box of Broadcasts allows you to access TV and radio broadcasts from over 65 channels, including most of the UK’s Freeview network, all BBC TV and radio content from 2007, and several foreign language channels. It’s a great resource for finding documentaries or critical opinions.

You can view archived programmes, create clips and playlists, and see transcripts to help with citation and translation. You can also search other user’s public playlists to see curated lists around topics similar to your own. There are lots of helpful tutorial videos on the BoB website.

Unfortunately, Box of Broadcasts is not available outside the UK.

English Language and Linguistics Subject Guide

This list was just a taster of all the great resources available for your subject area, to access these and to find out more visit the English Language and Linguistics Subject Guide and explore the journals, databases and subject specific resources we’ve curated for students interested in this field of study. 

There are also subject guides for specific languages which may be useful for you to explore, including Chinese and Japanese studies, German studies, French studies, Italian studies, and Spanish and Latin American studies.

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.

Finding Information: Troubleshooting your search results

Photograph of tools, including a hammer, spanner and measuring tape, laid out on a table

You’ve ran your information search and looked at your results with a critical eye only to find that they’re not quite working for you – what can you do now?

In this blog we’ll be looking at the top three problems encountered when searching for information and how to improve your search to get the results you need:

Finding too much

If your search has brought back thousands of results and you’re getting overwhelmed with the options:

Search a more specialised resource

Using a subject-specific database will help narrow the focus of your search to your particular areas of interest.  Take a look at your Subject Guide to find databases and eBook collections tailored to your subject area.

Apply limits

Make use of the ‘refine’ options usually found on the left-hand side of Library Search or your subject database.  Limit your results by date, subject area or information type.  Remember, you may need to justify your limits to your supervisor so think carefully about your choices. 

Combine search terms with ‘AND’

AND is a Boolean operator, a term you can use to have more control over your search. If you want to find information that must contain two different keywords (or phrases), place a capitalised AND operator between them. Your search engine or subject database will only find information that features both, narrowing your results. The more search terms you combine with AND, the narrower your search will be.

Finding too little

If your search has brought back a handful of useful articles but you need a wider range of results:

Combine terms with ‘OR’

OR is another Boolean operator that helps you to control your search more effectively.  Use OR with your search terms that have synonyms or related terms. Your search engine or subject database will find information that features either word or phrase, significantly broadening your results.

Try controlled vocabulary

If you’re not getting enough results, it may be that your search terms or keywords aren’t quite working for you.  Controlled vocabulary are a standardised list of words and phrases used on some databases to ensure that searches retrieve all relevant results, even when authors use different terms. Examples of databases that use this technique include ERIC, PsycInfo, CAB abstracts, Compendex and Medline. If these apply to you and your discipline, you’ll find out how to use them on your Subject Guide.

360 Searching

If you’ve found some useful articles, one simple way to find more relevant material is to take a look at the references used by the authors.  This will lead you to find older material that was published before your original article which may also be useful.  Library Search and some subject databases including Google Scholar and Scopus also allow you to see who has cited the articles you have found in their work (look for the ‘cited by link’).  This is called citation searching and allows you to find more up-to-date analysis of your topic.  By looking back at the references and forward at the citations, you get a 360 degree view of the research.

Finding nothing useful?

If your search has brought back results that aren’t relevant to your research question or you are finding it difficult to find the right search terms or databases to use, you might find it helpful to book a one-to-one appointment with your Liaison Librarian.

You can also find more help and advice on our Finding Information Guide.

Can’t find the book you need?

There will be times when you simply can’t find the book or eBook you need. So what then? First rule of thumb, is don’t panic. From the book already being out on loan, to us not having a copy of it in stock, there are lots of different avenues that you can pursue. Our ‘Can’t find your library resources?‘ webpage is a great place to start.

After that, you may need to think more creatively and flexibly. Watch the video below for our top tips to thinking outside the box to finding what you need.

Finding Information: The key to your search

Keys hanging on hooks on a piece of wood.

When it comes to finding academic information, there are a few things you need to think about before you start your search, such as where to actually look for information and the types of information you want to find in your search.  Another thing that is worth taking the time to think carefully about is keywords.

Keywords, sometimes called subject terms, are simple words and phrases that describe information; you can see them in the item record on Library Search and in Subject Databases.

An example of keywords from an article on Library Search
An example of keywords from an article on Library Search

The results that your search returns are based on this information – if your keywords match an item’s keywords, that item will appear in your results.

To get the best results, then, you’ll need to develop a balanced list of targeted keywords – these keywords may come from your essay title or research question, from your subject knowledge or wider reading – you can even borrow them from the subject terms you find on relevant articles!

As ideas and topics can be expressed in different ways you’ll also need to think about synonyms and terms related to your keywords to make sure you can find all of the relevant information.

To find out more about keywords, synonyms and searching take a look at this short video:

There are some useful tricks you can use with your keywords to save you time when you search, take a look at our Advanced Searching Guide to learn about Boolean, wildcards and truncation!