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.
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…
If you’re working on a dissertation, thesis or project right now, or will be doing so next academic year, what can you do if the Library doesn’t have access to all the specialist books and other information resources which you need? And how can you find out about resources relating to your research topic which are held elsewhere?
Find out below how you might expand your search….
You can search across the catalogues of over 170 UK and Irish academic and national libraries, together with other specialist and research libraries, via Library Hub Discover (formerly COPAC). The range of libraries included in Library Hub Discover is expanding all the time, and includes all UK universities, as well as the libraries of such diverse organisations as Durham Cathedral, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Royal Horticultural Society.
In response to Covid restrictions, Library Hub Discover is also making it easier for you to find Open Access resources via its catalogue, and it has also recently incorporated the HathiTrust Digital Library of over 17 million items.
For a more in-depth and up to date search, you can also search individual academic library catalogues online. Need to look further afield? Search library catalogues internationally via WorldCat.
If we haven’t got the book you want, you can ask us to consider buying or borrowing it, via our Recommend a book service.
If you need a copy of a journal article to which we don’t have access, you can apply for it via our inter library loan service, which is currently free. Please note that inter library loans options are more restricted than usual during the current lockdown.
You can search UK doctoral theses via the national EThOS service. This has records for over 500,000 theses, of which over half are freely available online (do note you have to register with EThOS before being able to download).
3. Visit (virtually for now)
Under normal circumstances, the SCONUL Access Scheme enables students to visit most other academic libraries around the country. Unfortunately, this service has been suspended since March 2020, and is unlikely to resume this academic year (2020/2021).
However, if your research will continue in academic year 2021/2022, do check back with the SCONUL Access site, and/or the web site of any libraries of particular interest to you, in case visiting restrictions start to ease.
As with libraries, most archives are either closed to visitors at present, or only open with considerable restrictions. Nonetheless, archives services may still be able to answer queries, provide access to selected digitised items, or even a Virtual Reading Room, so it may well be worth enquiring, even if you can’t visit in person.