Guest Post: A 3rd year’s hints and tips, all things law and non-law

Image of cropped Law Reports book spines (Chancery Division)

About me

My name is Lia, and I am a 3rd year undergraduate law student. The modules I am doing this year are Employment, Careers, Company, Mediation, Evidence and Commercial. I am originally from Peterborough but love Newcastle so much that I want to stay here after I’ve finished studying! My career aspirations are hopefully to become a commercial solicitor in Newcastle.

What do I know now that I wish I knew when I first started?

My 1st year was very different to the norm as I was the Covid year, which made my 2nd year even harder having to learn to adapt to in-person teaching. My advice would be to work 9-5 during the week and give yourself as much time off in the evenings so that you can go out, hang out with your friends, and do extracurricular societies and sports clubs.

1st year and 2nd year are all about making mistakes and learning from them, so never be too hard on yourself. It is more important to always get feedback from coursework and exams, knowing that whatever questions you have other students, the librarians and lecturers will all be able to help.

Seminars are also everyone’s saviours as they literally ask you to prepare the exam questions. I think you should prepare these to your best ability and try do some follow up work on the seminar after you have had everyone’s input.

Client Interviewing

In my 2nd year I entered the client interviewing competition with my friend, Daisy. This was highly rewarding as we learnt how to conduct ourselves when meeting clients and eventually won the competition overall.

The best part of our prize was that we got free work experience at Ward Hadaway, a regional law firm in Newcastle. I completed seats in Real Estate and Commercial litigation whilst I was there.

Text reads: To the winners Daisy and Lia, Newcastle University Law Society Client Interviewing Competition 2022. Two photographs show each winner smiling.
Image from Newcastle Uni Law Society Instagram @nulawsociety

Now, in my 3rd year, I am one of the client interviewing officers this year for the law society. This year Daisy and I are hoping to make the competition better than ever and help participants develop their skills by offering more training sessions than previous years and more competitions. I really advise any 1st or 2nd years to do this as an extra-curricular as it doesn’t take up too much time, looks great on your CV and is judged by Ward Hadaway solicitors who offer money and work experience as a prize!

Favourite Places…

To Study

To Eat Out

For Drinks

EDI Summer Reading Challenge

Abstract colourful shapes. Text reads: Summer Reading Challenge, libguides.ncl.ac.uk/edi.

Summer is the perfect time to embark on a journey, broaden your horizons and soak up a different culture or perspective. So, the team behind our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) library guide is delighted to re-launch a summer EDI reading challenge.

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.

Social Media

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:

I read; I travel; I become.

Spotlight on Knovel’s new interactive tools

Decorative image of a man working on a computer

What is Knovel?

Knovel is a technical reference database that provides access to core engineering handbooks and tools. It allows students, researchers and professionals to take material and property data, and to analyse it quickly and intuitively.

Our previous blog gives a general overview of Knovel’s main features and content, describing how it empowers engineers by offering a trustworthy source of information and data. But there is so much more you can do with Knovel using the interactive and visualization analysis tools. Alongside their data and technical information the tools let you manipulate and extrapolate data from within your browser and export it into your work in whatever format is most appropriate for your requirements. These tools allow you to interact more with the materials data within Knovel, so the data becomes much more discoverable and useful for your studies and research.

Creating a free, personal Knovel account allows you to save the work you do with these tools too. You can also save searches, graphs, tables and more, picking up right where you left off if you need to take a break.

What are the interactive tools?

There are several powerful tools that allow you to interact directly with the huge sets of data and properties in Knovel. Carrying out a simple search of material properties will give the option to select interactive tables or graphs. This video from Knovel gives an overview of the interactive tools available.

Hyperlinked image showing the Knovel 'interactive tools' video

Interactive Tables

The tables within Knovel can be overwhelmingly huge in scope, needing filtering to start to work the data into something useful. The interactive table tool allows you to filter and sort columns of large datasets, as you would a spreadsheet, but within your browser. You can hide, move, and lock columns, and quickly go from a broad search looking at the property of a material, for example steel, to a table you can adjust and save or export for inclusion in your work.

Screenshot of an example interactive table in Knovel
An example interactive table

Graph digitizer

Knovel includes a wealth of crucial engineering handbooks and has digitised the graphs in these titles. This allows you to extract and export data from digitized curves, enabling you to open any graphs in a separate view where you can extract data points, adjusting the parameters to get the information you are interested in. You can define points on the curve by clicking directly on the line, or by using the navigation panel to specify exact points, and you can define the axis with the other axis adjusting automatically. You can then add points, curves, or elongation data, and manipulate as needed before saving or exporting in a format suited to your output.

Screenshot of an example digitized graph in Knovel
An example digitized graph

Equation plotter

With so many example equations in Knovel the plotter function lets you visualise parametric equations and then manipulate them in several ways, such as plotting curves from the equation. When you run a search for material properties and choose a table, then selecting the equation icon will open the plotted equation for you to work with. You can then add points to particular values, change units, and work the data.

Screenshot of an example plotted equation in Knovel
Knovel equation plotter

Interactive equations

Knovel includes vast collections of example equations for application in engineering. You can navigate all disciplines by specialty, browse the full collection, or filter by equations in the general search.

The interactive equation tool is browser-based calculation software. It can help you get the solutions to problems faster, by letting you work with the online equation as you would in your own workbook. The equation worksheet functions as a space to explore and relate data back to your own work. You can also create worksheets for searches, combining text with images and plots. Watch the video from Knovel below for more information on interactive equations.

Hyperlinked image showing the Knovel 'interactive equations' video

Unit converter

This is a simple tool, but especially useful as it is integrated throughout Knovel to help you work with the data. It draws on a range of units, properties, and scientific notations systems. Easy to access and to use, it will help make sure you are working to the correct equivalents.

Screenshot of the unit converter tool within Knovel
Knovel unit converter

Steam calculators

Presented as a series of 8 calculators, this recent addition allows fine control of a full range of thermodynamic variables, under a variety of conditions, for results determining steam table data. With support for ranges of temperature, pressure, and quality, it lets you work out the required conditions for achieving the quality of steam needed. Watch this video from Knovel to learn more about Steam Calculators.

Hyperlinked image showing the Knovel 'steam calculators' video

More information

You can get further help with Knovel on the Knovel LibGuide. You’ll also find links to Knovel, and additional support within the Library’s Subject Guides for all Engineering, Science and Computing disciplines.

Contact your Liaison Librarian for any further questions around getting the most from Knovel, and for other ways we can help support you in your studies.

Tips for creating your study space

If you’re away from Newcastle over the Winter break you may be studying in unfamiliar or unusual spaces, which can make it more challenging to concentrate or find your motivation. Procrastination may be a struggle and creating a space, both physical and online, in which to be your most productive is something that many of us find challenging. It may not always be possible, but creating a managed space to study in will help. So what are our tips for creating the perfect study space at home?

1. Select your space

If possible, designate a space as your study environment. It may be your room in a shared house, the kitchen table, office, dining room or a spot in the hallway. Wherever you choose, claim it and make it yours in order to reduce distractions from those you live with and to create a studying mindset.

It can be invaluable to have a ‘work space’ which is separate from the rest of your life and spaces in which you relax. Even if this is simply a cheap desk in your bedroom, having a ‘study spot’ which is dedicated to your academic work will help you create structure and routine, and feel in the studying zone. It also makes for less embarrassment when you turn your camera on in Zoom or Teams.

2. Make it comfortable

While it may be tempting to study from your bed (which we’ve all done!), sitting upright will help you stay alert. Not to mention the benefits for your shoulders, back and neck. Start with a desk or table if you can, as it will allow you to make an organised space and leave your hands free to take notes.

It’s also worth thinking about how you can make the space more comfortable by opening a window for fresh air every so often, and the level of natural light you can introduce. Perhaps think about studying earlier in the day so that the natural brightness helps you stay alert and boosts your mood.

3. Tidy space, tidy mind

A cluttered study space can make it more difficult to focus and introduce unwanted distractions. By filing away your notes and de-cluttering your space at the end of a day, you will be able to start the next day fresh and find the learning materials you need.

This goes for your online spaces too. Think about how and where you keep your assignments, notes and any materials you download from Canvas, to ensure you are able to access the materials as you prepare assignments or revise for exams. Set up folders in One Drive that relate to each module or project you are working on and be sure to keep track of any collaborative work, such as projects in Teams. Managing the information you collect as you study and keeping it organised in some way is an essential study skill. Visit the Managing Information Guide for more tips.

4. Gather some stationery

It’s a simple tip, but keep a pen and paper nearby so that you can make quick notes. This might be jotting down an idea or something to remind yourself about at a later date. Many of you will take your notes digitally and may have a tablet you use within your programme, but having a notebook and pen to hand is a valuable backup. If you prefer handwritten notes, make sure you have a good organisational system so that you are able to retrieve the information you need.

You’ll find lots of useful tips around notetaking on the ASK website.

5. Listen to some music

Some of you may find studying in silence works best for you, while others may need a little background noise to block out distractions. Select a soundtrack for your study that helps you concentrate, with a mixture of mood boosting tracks and songs that are a little more mellow and calming. You’ll find lots of readymade study playlists on streaming services, or you could start with our Library Spotify playlists.

6. Switch off your devices

Many of us will recognise our mobile phone as a significant source of distraction and cause of many unproductive minutes. Switch off your mobile phone, log out of social media accounts on your study device and turn off the TV. This will help you create designated study time as well as space. It will also be a step towards introducing breaks in your study routine.

7. Take breaks

Taking regular breaks and walking away from your study space will help you return feeling refreshed. Why not download the iNCLude App? It has been designed to help you take small steps to improve and maintain your wellbeing, by creating positive habits and helping you focus on more than just your academic studies.

One valuable bonus tip from the WDC about taking breaks:

When you break, take a moment to leave a ‘note to future self’ about where you got to or what you were intending to do next.

Writing Development Centre, Managing Time and Motivation
Student studying with laptop and notebook.

8. Be organised

Learning remotely is challenging when you have to manage your own time and motivation. Being organised and creating your own plan or timetable can help.

The WDC have created some great guides, podcasts and videos with tips that might help, including creating structure and routinestudying in short bursts and how to motivate yourself.

When you begin your study session make sure you have everything you need to hand so that you don’t interrupt your flow. You might want to leave your laptop charger nearby!

Our mobile apps and resources guide also includes some suggestions for apps that can help you be more organised and boost your productivity.

Visit the ASK website for more study and academic skills advice

Hot topics: where to find out more

If you are looking for information on cutting edge research and development to aid your studies there are a range of online resources available via Library Search.

Nature Communications is an open access, multidisciplinary journal dedicated to publishing high-quality research in all areas of the biological, health, physical, chemical, and Earth sciences. When exploring the content of Nature Communications you will find current research articles, reviews, and analysis, together with news, comments, FAQs, and editorials. Hot topics are brought together in collections like ‘Research in support of COP26’ and ‘Clean Air’ which can be extremely useful when thinking about literature and systematic reviews.

CAB Abstracts is a bibliographic database that covers significant research and development literature in the fields of agriculture, forestry, human health, nutrition, animal health, and the management and conservation of natural resources. Using targeted searching and filtering in CAB Abstracts will enable you to find information on current hot topics like climate change and Covid-19. It’s not all just about journal articles either, you will find access to videos, letters, conference proceedings, books, and reports. Collating this information and adding it to your reference management library will also help to broaden the scope of your research into a topic.

So, next time you see a hot topic related to your research appear on your social media feed, or in your favourite newspaper, head over to Library Search and use these resources to help you find out more about the current academic research and discussion.

E-book acquisitions

The library has prioritised the acquisition of e-books and electronic resources during the Covid-19 pandemic with a myriad of titles now available via Library Search. The number of individual e-books purchased in 2020/21 was 4,640 and the number of e-books in collections purchased in 2020/21 was 383,771. In total, the number of e-books purchased in 2020/21 stands at 388,411.

E-book collections from Cambridge University Press, De Gruyter, and IGI Global are all accessible via Library Search where you can casually browse specific subject areas to see what is available. However, by being more specific and using author, title, and/or ISBN details within these collections you will be able to quickly navigate to the e-books that you need for your research and study.

A number of SAgE specific electronic collections are available. These include Packt Publishing, which offers a range of computing and IT related resources on cloud, data, programming, and web development, and the Royal Society of Chemistry e-book collection where you can download PDF chapters, or read online, from key chemistry and chemistry related texts.

There is also substantial access to a range of SpringerLink electronic publications covering a variety of SAgE disciplines. This includes valuable 2021 collections specific to biomedical and life sciences, computer science, earth and environmental science, engineering, and intelligent technologies and robotics. Furthermore, e-books from the SpringerLink Lecture Notes Series covering mathematics, statistics, and physics, can be found and filtered using Library Search.

Black History Month: Proud to be

Our book carousel on the EDI guide

October is Black History Month, with the theme Proud to be: “inviting black and brown people of all ages throughout the UK to share what they are proud to be.”

On the Library’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) guide, we’ve highlighted books and other resources from our collections which focus on black British people and themes across many fields, such as politics, law, music, art, business and literature.

Please take a look, and if you would like to suggest books which you think we should add to our collection, we’d love to hear from you: just fill in our suggestion form.

We’ve also compiled a Black History Month themed playlist on Box of Broadcasts, with a great collection of films and documentaries.

Don’t forget to explore the other sections of our EDI guide too: it aims to curate and highlight information resources of all kinds, relating to different EDI themes. You’ll find books, films, social media, digital and physical archives and more. We’d love to get your recommendations for anything we’ve missed, and you can still catch up on our summer reading challenge if you’d like to be inspired, or inspire others.

You can read about Newcastle University’s events to mark Black History Month here.

And watch out for a really interesting Black History Month feature from our colleagues in Special Collections and Archives, coming up later this month….

Find UK and international news with Nexis Uni

If you’re looking for UK or international news from the last thirty years or so to today, then make sure you explore Nexis. The Nexis database has recently moved to a new platform (Nexis Uni): we think you’ll find it is easier to search than the old version, and it has some really useful features.

If you’re used to ‘old’ Nexis, don’t worry: the content on Nexis Uni is exactly the same, and you can still use the ‘expert’ search features if you want to.

What does it cover?

Nexis Uni enables you to search over 17,000 news, business and legal sources. This includes most UK national and regional newspapers, together with international sources, including newspapers, newswires and news magazines in multiple languages. Coverage of news titles often dates back to the 1990s and includes today’s news. Coverage is text only, and doesn’t include images, layout, adverts etc.

Nexis Uni also gives access to specialist business information, including dossiers on major UK and international companies, together with specialist legal information.

How to search news on Nexis Uni?

There are various ways to limit your search to newspapers/news sources, but the simplest is to select the News button from the Guided Search section:

Guided Search

Type in your search term (use ” ” if searching for a phrase), select your date range, and click Search.

Limit by location of publication

Once your results are displayed, you can then further limit your search by date, publication type, location, language and more.

If you want to search news from a particular country, such as the UK, select Location by Publication >International> and then choose your continent and country.

If you would like to try more complex searching (e.g. searching in a particular section of the newspaper, or combining terms together in various ways), then click on Advanced search from the home page.

There is more detailed guidance about searching in the Nexis help centre.

Searching/browsing a particular newspaper

If you want to find a particular newspaper, choose Menu>All Sources, and then type the newspaper’s name in the Search within sources box. Click the three dot menu to get more information about coverage of the newspaper in Nexis Uni (NB ignore the phrase which says Archived source: no longer updated).

You can also use this route to add one or more newspapers as search filters, if you just want to search across certain titles only: to do this, type the newspaper title in the top search box entitled All Nexis Uni.

Personalisation features

If you’re using Nexis Uni regularly, we’d recommend you create a Nexis account, which enables you to set up alerts (click the bell icon at the top of your results listing), save searches, annotate and bookmark items, and share these with others. You can read more about alerts here.

Alert button

Please note: if you had previously set up alerts or saved searches on ‘old’ Nexis, they won’t migrate to Nexis Uni, so you’ll need to set them up again.

Where can I get more help?

Click the large question mark icon at the bottom right of the screen to get to the Nexis Help Centre >Support Resources, which includes videos and short guides.

Should I use Lexis or Nexis for UK news searching?

The ‘news’ section on the Lexis legal database enables you to search UK national and regional (but not international) newspapers. Nexis Uni is produced by the same company, and should have the same UK news coverage as Lexis, though Nexis Uni also includes a wider range of news sources such as broadcast news and news wires. We also think you’ll find the Nexis search and personalisation options are better, and easier to use, so we’d recommend Nexis. However, you might prefer to stick with Lexis if you use it regularly for legal information.

SAGE Research Methods

After a recent trial we are delighted we have managed to secure access to SAGE Research Methods. This is an invaluable resources for anyone undertaking an independent research project or dissertation.

The platform contains thousands of resources, dedicated to the subject area of Research Methods.  It supports all stages of the research process from: writing a research question, conducting a literature review, choosing the best research methods, analysing data, to writing up your results and thinking about publication.

It contains information suited to all levels of researchers, from undergraduates starting their first projects to research associates. Within the resource students will be able to access dictionary and encyclopaedia entries, book chapters, full books, journal articles, case studies, some datasets and streaming video from SAGE Research Methods Video. It includes online access to the complete Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences (QASS) series, aka the “The Little Green Books,” as well as the Qualitative Research Methods Series (QRMS), or “The Little Blue Books”

SAGE Research Methods includes a wealth of teacher resources and reusable materials for academics and module leaders to draw on and are licensed for educational use, allowing you to reuse materials and show videos within your teaching free of Copyright concerns. We think the platform will work well in conjunction with textbooks on research methods as well as some of the resources we have on our ASK website.

The Methods Map can be used to navigate methods, concepts and techniques via breakout diagrams. Whereas the Project Planner Tool is a step-by-step guide to starting, developing and completing a research project.  The methods sections provide information on all aspects of the research cycle – including the formulation of research questions, research design, project management and data collection.

Coming soon, SAGE Research Methods will be embedded in Canvas as an LTI, allowing you to easily embed videos, learning materials, case studies and videos into your Canvas courses.

Access the SAGE Research Methods User Guide for an overview of the resource an use the tabs below to access videos and training materials to get started.

Be Connected: 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.”

EndNote takes a little getting used to and we recommend you familiarise yourself with it at the start of your research process. EndNote isn’t for everyone, but EndNote can save you a lot of time in terms organising and managing your references for assignments, dissertations or big research projects.

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. Did you know you can instruct Google Scholar to import references into EndNote too? Give it a go.

You can also ask EndNote to locate full-text PDFs for references and annotate the documents within EndNote. Finally, if you already have PDFs 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 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.

EndNote help

  • Enrol onto our Teach Yourself EndNote module on Canvas to become proficient in using EndNote.
  • Take a look at our EndNote Guide which 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, and useful FAQs.
  • Finally, Newcastle University provides support for EndNote but it is not compulsory to use. Take some time to explore alternative referencing management tools such as MendeleyZoteroRefWorks which might suit you better.
  • If you can’t find the answer, email Library Help and someone will get back to you, or you can fill in the form on the FAQ box.

Help and training from Clarivate

For further training, you might want to have a look at Clarivate’s training calendar.  They also have really useful Question and Answer sessions where you can ask them anything regarding EndNote. You can register for any of the training via their training calendar.

They also have an excellent suite of training resources which includes video tutorials, self-guided learning, PDF reference guides, live training and online guides for: