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.

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 …

What you can do if the books you want are out on loan

  1. Take a look at your reading lists to see if there are other titles available for you to read instead.
  2. Make a Hold request (reserve a book) using Library Search. Once the item has been returned from loan it will be reserved for you to collect, this also alerts us that the book is in demand and is one of the triggers we use to order additional copies (where possible).
  3. Browse the shelves at same shelfmark location of the book/s you wanted to borrow, as these should relate to the same subject. We have a virtual “Browse the shelf” feature on item records in LibrarySearch, so you can browse the books without even being in the library.
  4. Use LibrarySearch to search for journal articles about your subject of interest, to do this, make sure you choose to search “Everything” in the Search Scope drop down box.
  5. If there is a book that you want to read for your studies that is not in stock in the library, you could recommend we buy itthis can be done through our Books on Time service, where we assess if the book will be purchased for addition to stock. If we don’t buy the book you want, you can always use the Inter Library Loan (ILL) service, however, you will need to pay £1.50 in advance for the ILL request.

Study Well@NCL

Students studying well

Study Well@NCL is a collaborative campaign formulated by NUIT, the NUSU Welfare Equality Officer and the University Library. Study Well@NCL advocates a responsible approach to studying and encourages positive behaviours in study spaces because we know it can be stressful especially at certain times of the year.

  • Choose the right environment for your study needs. We provide different study spaces and study rooms across campus depending on how you want to study.
  • To find a free space check out our current study space availability information on the web or via the Newcastle University App. If you’re struggling to find a study space in the library buildings please ask a member of staff and we will help you.
  • To find free cluster spaces use the Find a PC function, also available via the Newcastle University App.
  • Find information on developing your academic skills and specifically exam and revision advice. The Academic Skills Kit (ASK) website has information to help.
  • Stay hydrated and take regular breaks. You can take up to 30 minutes before your PC automatically logs off in all the clusters, and before belongings are removed at extremely busy times in the libraries.
  • Respect the food and drink policy of the space you’re studying in, and use the bins and recycling containers to keep it clean and tidy.
  • Make sure you take your belongings with you if you’re going to be away for longer than 30 minutes. All belongings are left at the owner’s risk.
  • If you are being disturbed by noise in any of our Library spaces, text the Library Noise Alert Service on 07891 484 764 (at your standard SMS rate) and we will investigate. This service is specifically for monitoring noise issues in Library spaces.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed please contact the University Student Wellbeing Team or NUSU Student Wellfare. They’re there to help.

Family overload this festive season? The library is here for you this vacation.

Person holding a gift box wrapped in brown paper with candy stripe ribbon.
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Today we are getting into the festive spirit in the Liaison team and enjoying our last day at work before the Christmas vacation. The team will be back in the office on 2nd January but until then, there is plenty of Library support available.

We are still open!

The Philip Robinson Library will be open throughout the vacation with the exception of Tuesday 25 December 2018 and Tuesday 1 January 2019. Between Saturday 22nd December and Monday 31st December, we are open as self-service and access the building is by Newcastle University Smartcard only.

Find out more on the Library website.

Live chat

If you have an urgent question, you will find 24/7 support via our out-of-hours Live Chat service, provided by a co-operative of academic librarians from around the world. If they can’t answer your query, they will pass it back to our Library staff who will contact you when full service resumes on Wednesday 2 January 2019.

Library Help FAQs

Believe us, there is no such thing as a stupid question and you’ll probably find that your question has been asked many times before! Why not check the Library Help FAQs to see if we have already provided an answer.

Visit your Subject Guide

Working on an assignment or revising, and unsure where to find the information you need? Visit your library Subject Guide for advice and quick links to specialist information resources for your subject.

Image of the subject guides homepage on an ipad screen.

Not in Newcastle? Online resources – any time, anywhere.

You can access all of our e-resources from anywhere in the world, so long as you have an internet connection. We wrote this blog post full of tips last week.

Shhhh don’t mention the word exams!

Your final assignment of the term has been handed in, Christmas parties are in full swing and you’re starting to think that you really must buy some presents. It is definitely a time to be winding down. You settle down on the sofa to watch some good old, cheesy Christmas T.V. but then up pops Macaulay Culkin and you suddenly want to scream with him! You have a sudden realisation that despite being lulled into a false sense of security, exams are just around the corner and Semester 1 still hasn’t finished yet…….Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! But don’t panic, your trusty librarians are here to help!

Now, we are not suggesting for one moment that you shouldn’t be taking some time out for some ‘r and r’ (you definitely should), but when you’re ready to get back into study mode, just remember that:-

  1. Our library buildings are still open if you want to come in and get away from all the Christmas madness.  Check out our opening times here.
  2. If you’re away from Newcastle this Christmas or just want to hibernate at home in your favourite pyjamas (I mean who doesn’t want to at this time of year?!), then you can make use of all our online resources. Check out Library Search and your specific subject guide for access to books, eBooks, journal articles and more.
  3. We have exam and revision advice. Why not explore the ASK website  or take a look at some relevant resources in the ‘study skills’ sections of our libraries?
  4. And last but not least, remember that we are here to help! You can contact us 24/7 via Library Help or alternatively browse the hundreds of frequently asked questions, which you can access anytime, anywhere.

So, enjoy Christmas, put your feet up and then when you’re ready, remember you don’t need to be home alone! We are here to help!

 

Cook up your references more quickly by managing your information.

Banner image for referencing promition

The amount of information we gather and read on a daily basis can be really overwhelming. If you are reading for seminars, essays and dissertations, you can quickly lose track of the websites you visited, articles you downloaded and books you’ve read. But there are some quick and easy ways to manage the information you find, to be a little more organised and helping you reference it further down the line.

1. Pin your favourites in Library Search 

Click on the pin icon for the records of any items that interest you as you go, and add all of the books, ebooks and articles you use for your work to your Library Search favourites. You can tag items with a label for the theme you are researching or even a module code or assignment, to help you group them together and find them when you come to do your referencing.

Images showing the option to pin items and searches to your favourites

2. Use the cite button

In Library Search and subject databases such as EBSCO and ProQuest, as well as Google Scholar, you will find the option to copy or download a simple reference. This can then be copied and pasted into a work document to form the start of your reference list. With a little tidying up, you will have the basic information you need to compile a reference and save yourself the time of recording the full details manually.

But be warned – these references are never perfect! They often include information that you don’t need or have missing punctuation and formatting, so you will need to give them a quick tidy up. Use referencing guidance such as Cite Them Right to help you spot any errors.

Image showing the citation button in Lbrary Search

3. Use your search history and save searches

How often have you found the perfect article, clicked onto a different page or moved onto a different task, only to forget what it was called. Or found a load of useful articles but then forgotten how you filtered your results to find them?

This is where your search history an be really useful. If you log into Library Search, you can view your search history and save any useful searches by clicking on the save query pin icon.

You will find the option to save your searches in most of the subject databases too. To do this, you will often need to register for a personal account on the platform. Once you have saved your search, you can also do more advanced things, such as set up an alert that emails you whenever new articles are added to the database that match your search criteria.

4. Use a reference management tool 

Reference management tools allow you to build and maintain your own library of references. You can enter reference information manually or you can import them directly from Library Search, Google Scholar and subject databases. You can also upload the full-text pdfs, images or notes to the reference, so that everything is kept safely in one place. When you begin to write, the software will allow you to “cite while you write”, adding your in-text citation and building your reference list for you.

The University has a subscription for EndNote which is available in all University clusters, via RAS and as EndNote Online. You’ll find information about how to get started with EndNote on our EndNote library guide. 

Watch our short video to find out more …

Recipe for Referencing: 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 Scopus, Web of Science, IEEE 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.

Using EndNote

Intrigued? You should be. 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 Mendeley, Zotero, RefWorks or another piece of bibliographic management software. That’s fine, whatever makes your referencing lives easier. Go on, give them a try.

When is a website not a website?

A common mistake made in referencing is grouping all sources found online under the category and reference type of a website. Your aim should be to reference the information you have in front of you rather than where it was sourced. Simply grouping items found online as a website would be the equivalent of referencing a book by the publisher details rather than the author and title.

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: February 01, 2018. 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: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/grayson-perry-think-artist-tateshots (Accessed: 27 November 2018). 

Identifying the type of information you are using as well as the source, are essential skills of evaluation and developing a 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.