Since its launch in autumn 2020, we’ve been using the guide to curate and highlight print and online resources of all kinds, relating to EDI themes, such as those listed in the University’s EDI priorities. We’ve compiled themed sections and monthly highlights of books, films, social media, archives, podcasts and more, and encouraged suggestions from staff and students across the University to help us develop our collections.
So why not take up our Summer EDI Reading Challenge?
Recommend and Review
Look through our themed reading lists on our Recommended by You & Blog page and explore life through a new lens! We hope you’ll find some inspiration, but we’d also love to receive your recommendations too, and we’ll be highlighting them on the guide.
You’re welcome to use the online form on the lib guide. If you can give us a few words to explain your choice, that would be great! You can see what people recommended last year on our EDI in Literature page.
We’ll be running a promotional campaign on social media throughout summer, using the hashtags #ReadingForPleasure and #EDIReadingChallenge. Please look out for these and retweet/repost wherever possible.
Have a great Summer everyone! We’ll leave you with the inspired words of the Poet, Derek Walcott:
Exam season is almost upon us and one challenge you may find yourself facing is revising for essay-based exams. These can cause a lot of anxiety, not least because essay-based assessments are often something we are used to doing over the course of several weeks. How do you plan, structure and write an essay in the space of a couple of hours? And how on earth do you revise when you don’t know what you’ll be asked?
Read on for our guide to effective revision and exam technique for essay-based exam questions:
What are essay exams testing?
Before you jump into your revision, it can be helpful to remember that essay exams are not just testing your memory. Instead, your lecturers are looking for evidence of how well you can apply the knowledge you have gained throughout the course to solve a problem or answer a question under timed conditions. Therefore, whilst memory is still important – you’ll need to be able to recall that knowledge in the exam – it’s only part of the story. You’ll also need to make sure you have an in-depth understanding of that knowledge and have practiced applying it to different questions, problems, and contexts.
How do I revise for essay exams?
You may be tempted to write a ‘generic’ essay on each of the topics you’re revising and memorise them so you can repeat them in the exam room. However, keep in mind that your lecturers are asking you to solve the specific problem they’ve set for you and simply ‘dumping’ everything that’s relevant won’t address the question and is unlikely to earn you good marks.
A more effective approach to revising for essay exams is incorporating strategies that develop your understanding of the topic so you can apply your knowledge to different problems effectively. Some revision strategies you might want to try for this are:
Questioning and interrogating the knowledge: why does this happen? How does it happen? Does it always happen this way? Is this always true? What about if we apply it to a different context? What are the implications of this?
Try applying the knowledge to case studies or different scenarios to get a better understanding of how theory works in practice.
Look at past papers or devise your own questions and either answer them in full or sketch out an essay plan under timed conditions. This will help you to test your recall and practice skills you’ll be using in the exam.
Compare and weigh up different approaches to the topic. Does everyone agree on this? Why? Why not? Which perspective is stronger?
Identify gaps in your knowledge and do some additional reading to fill them.
What about strategies for the exam itself?
You might be used to spending hours or even days planning, writing, and editing a coursework essay and be wondering how on earth you do all of this under timed conditions. Keep in mind that your lecturers know that this is a big ask and they are not expecting the same level of sophistication in the way you construct your arguments that they would be looking for in a coursework essay. However, it’s still necessary that your lecturers can follow your answer and see clearly how it addresses the question so:
Spend some time at the beginning paying attention to what the question is asking you. Our video on question analysis offers some strategies for understanding essay questions:
Sketch out a basic structure to follow. This needn’t be more than the main points you want to argue and the order you want to argue them in.
Clearly state your point or communicate your main focus at the beginning of each paragraph to help your reader get their bearings and follow your argument.
If you find yourself running out of time, write down a few bullet points around your remaining points – you may still pick up a few extra marks for this!
Do I need to reference sources in an essay exam?
While you won’t be expected to reference others to the extent you do in a coursework essay, it’s worth incorporating a few references to back up your points and show how you worked out your answer.
Try to memorise a couple of key arguments and/or debates made by others for each topic as well as the authors’ surname(s) and the year of the article so that you can cite it in the exam. Don’t worry about the details – just one or two lines summarising their main argument is enough.
What about other types of exams?
Exams exist in various formats in addition to the traditional essay-based exam type. For example, your course may also have multiple choice papers, vivas/oral presentations or exams relating to specific processes, techniques and interactions. All types of exams test your ability to recall and apply your subject knowledge, so most advice on revision and exam technique is applicable to different exam types. Effective revision trains your brain both to retain and to retrieve information; a process that’s equally useful for all exam formats. However, different types of exams can also present different challenges, and transitioning from online to in-person exams is a key change for this year. For more details on this and other exam-related issues, see our ASK Exams Collection and our calendar for upcoming workshops on revision and exam preparation.
We are here to support you!
Don’t forget that the Academic Skills Team will be in the Walton Library to answer questions about exams, revision, and any other questions you may have about academic skills on the following days and times:
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 you need? How can you find out about resources relating to your research topic which are held elsewhere? Can you visit other libraries and archives if you’re away from Newcastle over the vacation?
Read on to find out how you can expand your search beyond our library….
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 has also made it easier for you to find Open Access resources via its catalogue: it has recently incorporated the HathiTrust Digital Library, as well as the Directories of Open Access Books and Journals to its searchable database.
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.
You can search UK doctoral theses via the national EThOS service. This has records for over 500,000 theses, dating back to the year 1800, of which over half are freely available online (do note you have to register with EThOS before being able to download: it’s a separate login process to your usual University login).
The SCONUL Access Scheme enables students to visit most other academic libraries around the country, and in some cases, borrow from them. This service has recently resumed since its suspension during the Covid pandemic, but please note that not all academic libraries are currently participating in the scheme, so do check carefully before you visit, and read the latest information on the SCONUL Access site.
You will need to register with SCONUL Access before you can visit another Library, so do allow time for your registration to be processed.
If you want to consult archives or special collections elsewhere, you’ll need to check with the organisation in question beforehand (you’ll usually need to request to consult items in advance of your visit). If you can’t visit in person, archives services may still be able to answer queries, provide access to selected digitised items, or even operate a Virtual Reading Room, so it may well be worth enquiring.
Where can I find pictures relating to transport which I can use in my project? How do I find out what was broadcast on British television and radio on a particular day in the 1970s? Where are the best places to find examples of digital art? I need audio clips of scary sounds for my presentation – where to start? Are there any interesting oral histories in my subject area? How do I reference a podcast? I’ve found an ideal picture online, but I don’t know where it’s from – what can I do? Is there an authoritative list of famous music plagiarism cases anywhere, including audio clips?
We’ve updated and expanded our old images guide, and included new databases and resources for finding films and television programmes, plus audio content such as radio programmes, sound clips, podcasts and oral histories.
We’ve also updated the original still images section, which helps you find images of all genres and subjects, such as anatomy, archaeology, architecture…. and all other letters of the alphabet!
Need more help?
Keyword searching isn’t always the best way to search for audiovisual content, so if you want to find an image which looks like another one, search by colour, or find exactly what you want on Box of Broadcasts, visit our guide.
Finally, if you’re unsure whether you’re permitted to use an audiovisual resource in your assignment, and/or how to cite it, we can help with that too. Our guide contains plenty of helpful advice on using and citing audiovisual materials, and we’ve tried to include links to collections and databases which are licensed for educational use where possible (but please do check the terms and conditions in each case).
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022 Walton Library’s Medicine in Literature team have created a Box of Broadcasts watch list to showcase films with a female story at their centre. The selection contains tales about women and their relationships to health, medicine and science. From Frida to Gravity to Suffragette the collection looks at both fictional and non-fictional accounts of the strength it takes to navigate the world as a woman. We hope you enjoy watching!
We are also celebrating International Women’s Day in the Walton Library with a display highlighting the achievements of female graduates from the Faculty of Medical Sciences. These are shown alongside books written by, or about, women who are making an impact in the world of medicine and breaking the gender bias in the process.
You might have been given an academic article to read by a module leader or found one on a reading list but what happens if you need to locate some for yourself.
On our subject guide we have a whole list of core journal platforms and databases but which ones are best if you’ve got a topic and you’re just looking for academic articles related to it.
Don’t panic, we’ve created this short video to highlight which resources to use (Avery and Art and Architecture Archive in case you’re wondering). If you want to search more widely within Social Sciences journals then you might want to consider a more generic database like Proquest.
Have you met BoB? Box of Broadcasts is a fantastic resource for all subject areas: an archive of over two million radio and television broadcasts from over 75 free-to-air channels, including all BBC channels, ITV and Channel 4, plus some international channels. New programmes are added to BoB as they are broadcast each day.
We know it’s a very popular resource, but are you getting the best out of it? Here are some quick tips for newbies and experienced users alike!
BoB is a huge database, so searching by keyword may retrieve a lot of irrelevant results, especially as the default search looks for your keyword in all programme transcripts (i.e. every word spoken in a programme). Click on the Search options link just under the search bar to see various ways of making your search more precise, including searching in the programme titles only, or limiting by date. This help video gives more detail:
Playlists and clips
You can create your own playlists: really helpful if you’re researching for an assignment, or preparing to teach a module. You can also search public playlists curated by other BoB users around the UK: just select Public playlists underneath the search bar, or explore this showcase of playlists for more inspiration.
We know students and researchers in SAPL use images for all sorts of reasons. You might know some websites which provide some good pictures or maybe you just Google to find some. But for academic work you’ll want to ensure they are good quality, you can reference them correctly and they adhere to any Copyright terms and conditions.
You can use some of the resources from the Library to look for pictures of buildings, plans, projects and architectural photographs.
This help video covers the 3 main places we’d advise you look.
Detail Inspiration and it’s 3000 projects spanning over 30 years.
Architects Journal Buildings Library and its 1900 projects spanning the last 20 years.
Art and Architecture Archive; a full text archive of magazines including Architects Journal and Architectural Review.
These articles have been indexed so that you can specifically search for images and photographs.
Have you ever needed to dive into a new topic but felt overwhelmed by the amount of research? See if a Very Short Introduction can get you started!
This series offers concise introductions to a diverse range of subjects—from artificial intelligence to folk music to medical ethics—in 35,000 words or less.
Each one of these big little books provides intelligent and serious introductions written by experts who combine facts, analysis, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make even the most challenging topics highly readable.
On our catalogue, Library Search you can search by keywords like in the screenshot below so “very short introduction” and browse through or add in Oxford to add in results for that publisher.