Level up your academic study skills

Time to get your game face on and level up your academic skills!

Cartoon students thinking about academic skills and becoming graduates

Throughout your time at University, you are required to develop a whole range of important academic skills, from knowing where to find information to critical thinking to reference management.  These skills are not only important for completing your degree successfully but they can also be transferred to the work you do once you leave the University, making them invaluable for your future career.

Developing some of these skills may seem daunting but the Library is here to support you at every level of study with our range of online tools, videos and guides as well as one-to-one support from your Subject Liaison team and staff at the Writing and Development Centre.

This month we’re inviting you on a study quest to explore our guides and tools and gain some serious Study XP (experience points).

To get started take a look at your Subject guide for advice on finding information in your area or see our Employability guide to explore how these skills can help in your future career.

From 11 – 24 March 2019 visit our display in the Library to chat to our helpful staff, pick up postcards, guides and fun freebies, and if you feel up for a challenge, take on our exciting mini escape room game (more details to follow)!

Ready, Player One?

Future proofing your employability

“What would you guess is the most common job?” Michael Lai, Outreach Lead at KGI, asked an audience of students at his Columbia Heights TEDTalk back in 2016. His audience members offer a few suggestions. “Engineer?” “Fast food workers?”  After several failed attempts, Michael puts them out of their misery,

“3.5 billion truck drivers in the United’s States” he tells them. “Experts predict that in the next 12-15 years, most of the cars on America’s highways will be self-driving… so what’s going to happen to the most common job?”

The future of the job market – and it’s inherent uncertainty – has been receiving a lot of attention in the international press in recent years, with Universities UK analysis predicting “65% of children entering primary schools today will work in jobs and functions that don’t currently exist.”  In previous generations, new graduates could expect to work with the same company for several years, steadily climbing the corporate ladder in a predictable, but reassuring linear way. In the 21st century however, the face of the job market is changing, and once you graduate, you may find yourself looking at a “portfolio career” over traditional career progression – something Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg described as more akin to a career “jungle gym” than a career ladder.

But what does all this talk of truck-driving and emergent markets mean for you, the UK Graduate? Well, if the gig economy becomes the norm in the next 10 years, one of the key challenges for new graduates will be the perpetual need to upskill yourself, and market your own skill base to different employers. This puts the spotlight on what have traditionally been referred to as “soft” transferable skills that are required across many different roles and sectors – skills such as resilience, team-working and critical thinking. Here at the Library, we’d argue that information and digital literacy falls under this bracket (well of course we would, we’re librarians!). The ability to find and use information and make considered use of digital tools is an important capability in any graduate job. Don’t just take our word for it – we spoke to several students returning from placement who told us their information skills had helped them get ahead.

The good news though is that your degree programme offers you the chance to work on and demonstrate all of these skills. Employers will know that you may not have extensive work experience as a new graduate, but make sure you cherry-pick prime examples from your University work, part –time jobs and any voluntary experience to exemplify the skills employers are looking for (and remember, the Careers service can help you with interview preparation.) Make the most of the workshops and sessions open to during your time at University so you are in a great position to articulate these important skills. For more information on how the Library can help, check out our Employability Guide

References

  1. TEDx Talks (2016) Four Key Skills to Lead the Future. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djHTcES2ATg
  2. Universities UK (2018) Solving future skills challenges. 6th August 2018. Available at: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2018/solving-future-skills-challenges.pdf
  3. Sandberg, S as quoted by Lebowitz, S and Campbell, D (2019) “Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon shares his number one piece of advice for millennials who want to get ahead in their careers.” Business insider, Jan 13th 2019. Available at:  https://www.businessinsider.com/career-advice-millennials-goldman-sachs-ceo-david-solomon-2019-1?r=US&IR=T

Shades of Grey [Literature]

Grey literature. Black Literature.

Did you even know they existed? Possibly not.

Depending upon your source, “black literature” can be defined as books and peer-reviewed published journals. This is the familiar material you will source and use through your University Library and its catalogue.

Grey literature is something else entirely. Grey literature is research or material that is not produced by commercial publishers. It may be wholly unpublished or published in a non-commercial form. Think along the lines of industry-related materials, academic publications, government publications and think tank papers.

GreyNet, the Grey Literature Network Service has more detailed information on this vital research resource.

Grey Literature can be unique and an important source of information. There is a range of grey literature you may need to consult to ensure your research is complete. Examples of these materials include:

  • Working papers
  • Conference proceedings
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Government and official publications, including Green and White Papers, Select Committee papers, legislation
  • Policy statements
  • Research reports
  • Newsletters
  • Fact sheets
  • Blogs
  • Transcripts
  • Pre-prints and post-prints of articles
  • Technical reports
  • Professional guidelines
  • Patents
  • Standards
  • Market research
  • Data, e.g. Census, economic data, statistics

Most databases, available via your Subject Guide, will allow you to limit your search by document type, including grey literature, which does improve accessibility to this type of material.

Other resources include:

  • Bielefeld Academic Search Engine
    Operated by Bielefeld University Library this search engine indexes open access academic literature. The Advanced Search option allows you to search for specific types of grey literature.
  • Box of Broadcasts
    Box of Broadcasts provides access to over two million programmes from over 65 TV and radio channels, including most of the UK’s freeview network, all BBC TV and radio content from 2007, and several foreign language channels. You can view archived programmes, record new ones, create clips and playlists and see transcripts. (This resource is not available outside the UK.)
  • Digital Education Resource Archive (DERA)
    The Institute of Education Digital Education (University of London) Resource Archive (DERA) is a digital archive of all documents published electronically by government and related bodies in the area of education.
  • Open Grey
    The System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe provides open access to over 700,000 bibliographical references.
  • Teachers TV from Education in Video
    Provides access to all 3,530 globally-acclaimed instructional videos produced in 2008 by the United Kingdom’s Department of Education to train and develop teachers’ skills through demonstrations and commentary by teachers, administrators, and other educational experts.
  • Newcastle University Theses and Dissertations Guide
    Newcastle University theses are available in the eTheses Repository. Other UK theses may be available via EThOS. There is not one single source for locating non-UK theses. The Guide will give you some starting points.
  • UK Legislation
    UK Legislation is freely available online but be aware there may be delays of up to 2 weeks before any updates appear. Use your subscribed databases available via the Law Subject Guide.

The list can go on…

Once you have located your grey literature, do question it using the CRAAP testcurrency, relevance, authority, accuracy, purpose. Consider what is publicly available versus a subscribed (or paid for) resource. It may be biased and you should include that assessment in your work.

And finally, don’t forget, not everything is available online!

INTO students, why not check out our online stuff

Image showing students on the grass in the old Quad outside the Architecture building.

Where ever in the World you are from, you are now part of the Newcastle University family.

This means you have access to four libraries with amazing online/print resources and of course….helpful library staff.

Now you are living and studying in Newcastle you will often hear the Geordie accent. It’s not always the easiest to understand! Do you know your Geordie phrases?  There is a handy guide to help you become familiar with some of our more colourful phrases. Why not follow this link to understand our local dialect.

Links to help you get started

  • Our INTO Student Guide will help you get started with the skills and resources you need to study at Newcastle University. Explore essential library resources, including books, ebooks and journal articles and find your way to the best specialist resources for your chosen subject area. 
  • Are you ready to search for information?  Have a look at this library video to help you find the best resources to use for your academic work.

  • Correctly referencing the information you use and concerns about plagiarism are common for many students. Visit our Library Managing Information guide to find tips and advice for your referencing.

Managing Information banner image

The University has a subscription for the referencing software EndNote. You’ll find information about EndNote and teach yourself resources on our EndNote Library guide if  you anted to give it a try yourself.

Help and Support

Please remember we are here to help you and you can contact us at any time, day and night, via Libraryhelp.

Beyond the University, there are some great local libraries which you can visit and use for free. Find out about other libraries in the area by visiting the Library website.

 

Love reading? Browse through BrowZine…

Not sure which journal article you’re looking for? Do it the ‘old school’ way and browse through your favourite journals using BrowZine without having to trek to the library or newsagents to flick through the magazines.

BrowZine is a publisher-neutral reading and discovery platform for eJournals. You can browse complete issues, set up a personal bookshelf of your favourite titles and receive notifications when new issues are released.

Library Search and browsing eJournals via BrowZine

You can do this on your PC via Library Search or perhaps you prefer using your smartphone? Access BrowZine via the University App or download the BrowZine App from the Apple Store or Play Store.

Access BrowZine via the Newcastle University App

Set up your personal account using your University email address and BrowZine will always recognise you as a member of Newcastle University and give you access to the full-text articles it contains.

BrowZine Subject Areas

BrowZine Arts and HumanitiesGet browsing!

Trial: Oxford Bibliographies Online

We have a trial of Oxford Bibliographies Online until April 8th 2019.

This resource offers exclusive, authoritative research guides written by academic experts across a variety of subject areas. Combining the best features of an annotated bibliography and a high-level encyclopedia, it directs you to the best available scholarship across a wide variety of subjects in humanities and social and environmental sciences.

You can search or browse it in various ways, and new content is added regularly.

The trial ends on April 8th. Please explore and email us your feedback, or post it as a comment on this blog.

Where could maps take you?

So when does an Animal Science student need to use EDINA Digimap and GIS software?  The answer is not all do, but you never know where your dissertation project may take you, and what software may help your research or your presentation or visualisation of results.

Grace’s dissertation took her to Sunderland to road test the country’s first gas sniffer dog.  Collaborating with an Earth Science student to help her use the mapping products and with training from the geosciences team in using GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) accurate to 2cm, she plotted the gas leaks and successful finds by her faithful four legged co-worker.  The team demonstrated that a dog’s nose is as good conventional gas detection equipment, and could be very helpful with difficult to trace gas leaks.

Sniffer dog in high vis finds gas leak
Sniffer dog, image used with permission from Dr Catherine Douglas, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences.
Digimap illustrating gas leaks detected
Map created by student using EDINA Digimap https://digimap.edina.ac.uk/ and used with permission by Dr Catherine Douglas, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences.

With many thanks to Dr Catherine Douglas, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, for providing this content.

See what is available to you on the Maps Guide and take up opportunities to collaborate or share good practice with other disciplines. You never know where it might lead!

Please note: EDINA Digimap requires registration before use.

Literature Online upgrade

The literary research database, Literature Online (LION) has had an exciting new upgrade.

LION, which enables you to research international literature of all genres in books and journals, together with 350,000 works of poetry, prose and drama from the 8th century to the present, is now hosted on Proquest’s main platform. It also has good coverage of related areas such as linguistics, philosophy, classics and film studies.

The new site includes the following improvements:

  • new content will be available more quickly
  • clearer search options to help you focus your search
  • improved author pages
  • you can now cross-search LION along with other Proquest databases, such as Early English Books Online, The Guardian/Observer/New York Times newspaper archives, plus thousands of journal articles in other subject areas.

Not quite ready to switch? The old LION platform will still be available until August 2019, but we would encourage you to try the new LION sooner rather than later!

Get ahead of the game!

A game of chess

Phew, the exams are behind you and you can breathe a sigh of relief! One semester is done and dusted and the next is around the corner. But before you say, “I don’t want to think about that yet”, why not use this simple checklist to ensure that you start semester 2 ahead of the game?

  1. Find your reading lists for your semester 2 modules and start to read the items now. You’re upcoming lectures and seminars will make much more sense in light of this and enable you to use your time more efficiently as a result. If it seems overwhelming, why not just start with the items your academic has marked as ‘essential’ on the list?
  2. Look at your upcoming module handbooks on Blackboard and check out the assignment details. Are you going to have to produce a type of assignment you have never done before? Or do you need to develop your assignment writing skills? The Writing Development Centre are here to help.
  3. Get familiar with your subject specific guide and explore the databases and resources that are recommended for you.  It will make finding high quality information for assignments much easier and will help you access those top marks.
  4. Hone your referencing skills by checking out our referencing guide and the fantastic referencing tool which is Cite them Right. Getting to grips with your referencing style will not only help you to avoid plagiarism, but will get you some easy marks.
  5. And if all of this seems overwhelming and you need some help with managing your time, check out the ASK website for some advice.

Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

Are you using the best information to make your point?

With the huge volume of information available and the speed with which you can find something on just about any topic with a simple search, it can be difficult to be sure that you are using the best quality information for your task. Your tutors will often give advice such as recommending that you use academic or peer-reviewed journal articles, and it can be tempting to stick to ‘safe’ types of information such as books.

But depending on your assignment topic, you will need to explore a breadth of different information types, including many that will be online. So how do you know which ones to you?

You will need to consider many issues, including authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency and coverage within an information source. This will help you make decisions about the quality of the information, its reliability and what role it could play within your thinking.

You will evaluate information all the time without thinking about it. It doesn’t need to be a conscious or difficult task. Our Six Questions video will help give you some ideas for the types of questions to keep in mind to make your own judgement.

You may also sometimes decide to include a piece of information, even though it may not be from a credible source or its impartiality is questionable, because it illustrates the point you are trying to make. Being aware of your reservations about a reference allows you to be more confident in your judgment.

Find out more on our Evaluating Information guide …