Category Archives: Study Skills

Resource of the Week – Academic Writing Resources

Academic writing is a vital skill to master at University and the library has lots of resources available to help you develop this skill.

Books and Ebooks

The library has a large collection of books and ebooks relating to academic writing and other study skills. You can use Library search to see what titles we have available, or click on this link to see a list of useful titles.

The library has a wide selection of study skills books and can help with areas other than academic writing e.g. Critical thinking (click this link to access the ebook “Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument”), subject specific study skills books, critical reading and much more.

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Online Resources

We also have a number of online resources that can help with academic writing skills. One particularly useful resource is “Study Skills Success”, this has lots of useful information about various types of study skills e.g. academic writing, research and critical thinking. You can find a link to this resource via the library’s E-Resources A-Z list

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CeDAS – Centre for the Development of Academic Skills

CeDAS provides a great deal of support for all students in the development of their academic writing and oral communication skills. They offer workshops, lectures, courses and 1-1 tutorials. To find out more about this department, visit their website.

Fake News – Is it true or is it a fake?

There has been a lot written about fake news recently. With many thinking it effected the US elections and the Brexit vote in the UK.

What is Fake news?

Fake news can be relatively harmless satire or a deliberate attempt to mislead. Unfortunately fake news tends to be written is such a way that they  attract high numbers of shares. This is deliberate as they can generate large amounts of income for their publishers.

Why does it matter?

It matters because not everybody realises they are Fake News stories.

For example we hope you would realise this is fake –

britain-threatens-to-invade-switzerland

But there are clues – the byline says Doug Trench (unlikely name) and it is on a website called the Suffolk Gazette which states it is “Let us tell you the Suffolk Gazette is without question Britain’s best spoof news and satire news site – all with a lovely Suffolk twist.”

However the reason this fake news is hitting the headlines is because of stories being shared connected with the US elections and the EU referendum.

This clipping was shared widely but is completely untrue – _92449335_trumppeople1998

Google and Facebook are both under fire for not flagging things as untrue so expect to hear more about this as they work on algorithms to sort it out.

There are lots of sites to check if something is true or not 

Here are three which either check the stories or you can check the facts

Snopes – http://www.snopes.com

Full Fact:  https://fullfact.org/

Fact Check: http://www.factcheck.org/

Here are Golden Rules for checking

  • Read before Sharing
  • Check the date
  • Avoid sites that aren’t balanced if looking for facts
  • Check if other reliable sources are reporting it
  • Fact check – Snopes and other sites
  • Ask a librarian if you want more help – information is our job

We have put together a video which gives you an overview of how to test if something is true or not.

 

Online Reading Lists at Royal Holloway

The College and Library have been investing in an Online Reading List System  to help you get to the resources on your reading lists.

Search box for OnlineReading Lists

We currently have over 400 lists inputted for 2015/16 and we are adding to it daily so keep checking if you are a student in:

  • Classics
  • Criminology
  • Biological Sciences
  • Drama
  • Economics
  • English
  • Geography
  • History
  • Law
  • Management
  • Maths
  • Media Arts
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Politics and International Relations
  • Psychology

Currently not all modules in these departments will have lists but if you want to see if yours does search using the main search box on the Reading Lists Homepage (http://readinglists.rhul.ac.uk).

Reading List example

If you are an academic and would like to get involved with the system please contact the Reading Lists Team on readinglists@rhul.ac.uk

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Click on the title of the item in your list to view further details about an item, where it is held in the Library, or to see if it is available.
  • You can sort your list by importance (e.g. ‘Recommended for student purchase’, ‘Essential’ reading, ‘Recommended’ reading etc.) or by resource type (‘book’, ‘journal’, ‘article’ etc.)  by clicking on the ‘Grouped by section’ button at the top of the list. This might help you to manage your time and plan your reading more effectively.
  • To print out your list as a PDF, just click on ‘Export’ at the top of the list and then ‘Export to PDF’.This will give you a downloadable PDF version which you can then print out.

For more information and FAQs see this blogpost: https://libraryblog.rhul.ac.uk/2016/02/11/faqs-about-the-online-reading-list-system-from-students/

Feeling anxious about the library? We are here to help

Last week we did a small anonymous Twitter Poll to see how many of our users  feel anxious about the library.  Of the 21 respondents 48% said they didn’t, 28% said sometimes and 24% said yes they did.

 

 

We don’t want anybody to feel anxious about the library and believe it or not a lot of people have researched and written about “Library Anxiety” in the past so if you do feel anxious you are not alone.

Symptoms of Library anxiety include:

  • Fear and uneasiness with the physical space of the library, often related to how big the library is.
  • Fear of approaching a librarian or library worker to ask for help.
  • Fear that you are alone in not knowing how to use the library.
  • Feeling paralysed when trying to start library research.

If any of this sounds like you we are here to help!

Please see the college’s Support, Health and Welfare pages for help and support for anxiety and stress.

Library Anxiety

Here are some tips that can help you cope with library anxiety so that you can make friends with the library, or at the very least, be able to get in, get out with what you need, and get on with your life.

  • Recognise that what you’re feeling is common and that you aren’t alone in feeling overwhelmed by the libraries. Sometimes being able to put a name to a problem really helps in dealing with it. If you know library anxiety is affecting your work, you can take steps to deal with it.
  • Ask a librarian or library employee for help. It can be hard to ask for help. Many of us have grown up with strong impressions of the value of independence and self-reliance, and may feel like we should be able to figure out libraries all by ourselves and sometimes librarians may look a bit intimidating behind the reference desk. But librarians are here to help you, and, even though it may be hard to believe if you are stressed out, librarians like helping you and want to see you succeed.
  • Ask your tutor for help. If you are really struggling or feeling paralysed when you try to do your library research, let your tutors know. They may have some ideas of places to start and may be able to talk with you about ways to make your research easier.
  • Try to plan ahead. It’s very, very easy to procrastinate when feeling library anxiety. Unfortunately, procrastinating only makes it worse. As deadlines approach and the amount of time you have to work with shrinks, chances are good your anxiety levels will go up, not down. So try to nip this cycle in the bud by getting into the library and asking for help early on.
  • Take deep breaths and work on focusing. When we are under stress, even fairly simple navigational tasks can become difficult. You are more likely to be able to find what you need if you slow down, look around, and read carefully. And, again, you can ask for help if you feel lost or panicked.

Remember that unlike many librarians in popular culture (would you like to ask Madame Pince, the librarian at Hogwarts, a question?) we are friendly and here to help. Sadly, some people have encountered unfriendly librarians in real life, librarians are just people, like you, with special training in locating and accessing information. And most of us are quite friendly and helpful – try and ask a question.

Please see the college’s Support, Health and Welfare pages for help and support for anxiety and stress.

 

Coping with exams

Summer term began this week and that means exams season is here. It can be a stressful time revising, and taking exams so here are some useful tips and tools to help ensure you have a stress free time.

Check out the Buzzfeed style 14 top tips for exam success at RHUL courtesy of Campus Life.

It’s all too easy to forget to look after yourself. So consider taking advantage of the fun activities offered around campus in the Stressbusters Guide produced by the Students’ Union and College.

There are lots of tools which can help your organise your revision.

Braineos – Allows you to create flashcards and games to help recall.

Evernote – you can use this to keep track of your notes as it has a great search function so you can search for notes on a subject. You can also create check lists to keep yourself organised.

Mind mapping – There are several tools, both free and paid for available. Here are a few:

  • Popplet – allows you to add images, video and links.
  • us – A very simple mind mapping tool
  • Inspiration – this is a paid for piece of software which has a cheaper iPad app version which is easy to use and very good for revision.

Looking for past exams? You can find them via the library home page or this link.

The Library holds a number of books which provide you with exam tips. Many are shelved at 378.170281.

There are also several Ebooks with helpful tips:

Chapter Eleven of The Ultimate Study Skills Handbook has lots of tips.

4.7 of Study skills for psychology students has lots of general tips, not just of use to Psychology students.

Chapter 23 of  Study Skills for geography, earth and environmental science students

Pages 195 – 199  The Business Students Handbook

Library@ – find study spaces on campus!

We know there is a lot of pressure of study spaces at this time of year. To help address this, the College, the Library and the Students’ Union are working together to provide you with additional quiet spaces to study during this time.

For more information, please see the website.

Getting better search results

We just received an email on narrowing down search results – “I’m searching for books on the idea of performance but I always get thousands of results which are based around performance meaning how well something is performing such as a business etc. Do you have any suggestions for how I can search for more relevant materials?”

So I thought it might be useful to put the answer into a blog post – as we’ve all been there.

Things to Try to get better search results

1. Change your keywords.

If your search for ‘performance’ brings back unrelated items, try changing what you search for. Synonyms might include ‘drama’, ‘theatre’, ‘performing arts’ etc.

Try adding more keywords e.g. ‘audience participation’, or a particular theorist, theory or performer you’re interested in.

LibrarySearch and other databases have list of subject headings – click on these to find more examples of keywords.

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Where to find the subject headings in LibarySearch

 

Select the headings which are relevant, and choose the checkbox to include or exclude them from your search.
Select the headings which are relevant, and choose the checkbox to include or exclude them from your search.

2. Combine your keywords.

Databases will accept certain combinations of words and use them to make your search more effective.

3. Change the database.

LibrarySearch is pretty general – if you’re after items on a particular subject, go to your subject guide and try the Finding E-resources link for a list of more specific databases.

4. Who’s cited what?

When you finish a recommended article, or book, go to the back and take a look at what they referenced when writing it – then look these up and carry on!

You can also use Google Scholar to see who’s cited the article or book you’re reading now – and see what they said on the topic.

Look for the ‘Cited by’ part, and click it to get information on other articles and books.

Click 'Cited By' to see other articles which reference this one above.
Click ‘Cited By’ to see other articles which reference this one above.

Try LibrarySearch to get hold of articles or books, and if it’s not there, don’t panic – we can get it!

5. Ask your Librarian!

Whether it’s a presentation or PhD thesis, you can always arrange a meeting with your librarian to go through the subject and searching with you, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Spring Term Library Workshops

Happy New Term! And with it comes new training workshops from the Library.

Last year, in the Autumn Term we saw 6547 students – that’s equivalent to all of the students in the Arts and Sciences faculties put together!

We’ve had some really nice and positive feedback on our sessions too…


 

[I] would definitely like to attend more of these workshops after attending this one

[The Librarian] who gave the workshop was very articulate, concise and knowledgeable.

this course showed me how to navigate [the Library website] efficiently to get to the parts that I need.

I thought everything we covered was of use.


But that’s not all – we’re always looking to  improve the workshops, so we’re keen to hear suggestions for more sessions, or changes we can make too.


I would be interested in attending a workshop on the more advanced features of EndNote.


So the workshops are great, but what’s on offer this term? All of our training can be found on the Training page of your subject guide, and you will need to register to attend (but this is free and easy to do – email us if you have any trouble).

Working on a dissertation or essay? Come to our Search Our Stuff and Find It Faster workshops on 17th and 26th February and practice search techniques.

New to referencing and bibliographies? RefWorks is a great resource for undergraduates, and EndNote is a powerful postgraduate referencing tool – come along on 28th January or 5th February to find out more. And if you’re already using RefWorks, but have questions, come to our Question and answer session on 11th March.
If you’ve only got half an hour to spare, or think RefWorks and EndNote aren’t for you, come to Bedford Library on 3rd March and get acquainted with free Zotero referencing. Researchers might find our half hour session on social referencing site Mendeley useful too.

Every Tuesday throughout Spring Term, Bedford Library room 2-03 hosts our Bitesize, subject specific workshops.

Something missing? Send an email to library@rhul.ac.uk and request a session!

#RHDigitalU: Digital Skills for University and Beyond

The Library has teamed up with Careers and CeDAS to offer you a series of digital skills sessions throughout November. These sessions can help you succeed in your studies as well as help improve your career prospects once you graduate.

  1. Careers are starting the series with a LinkedIn Day on Wednesday 12th November, which includes 2 workshops, a webinar, 1:1 appointments and a chance to get a professional photograph taken for your profile. You can just attend one part of the day or the whole programme – it’s up to you! Book now!

 

linkedin-day

 

2. On 19th November, the Library is holding a workshop on how you are perceived online. This is the ideal opportunity to check your online identity and ensure that nothing from your digital past could come back to haunt you. Book now!

digital-tattoo

 

3. On 26th November, there will be a workshop from CeDAS on apps that can help you with your research. Book now!

apps-academic-success

 

Library loves…Dissertations

April is the final push to many dissertation deadlines, and we know that this is a very busy time. For those of you finishing, or even for those of you just starting, this month is about all things dissertation (not forgetting projects and portfolios too!).

Here’s a list of things the library can help with:

  • More Books: if you need a book, just fill in the book suggestions form. In the Autumn Term we bought over 100 individual titles based on your requests, and it’s never too late to ask.

MoreBooks

  • Visiting other libraries: if you want to borrow/visit another UK university Library, SCONUL is a great national scheme that allows you to do so for free. Fill in the online form, and take your approval email with your RHUL RCS card to other libraries taking part in the scheme and you’re in!
  • Inter-Library Loan: did you know you can request to borrow books, journals, journal articles, even doctoral theses from other libraries? There’s lots of information here, and if you’re after something in particular, this can be great.
  • Referencing and bibliographies: referencing is important, but it can be time-consuming. We know you’d rather spend that time reading up and writing, so don’t forget that the Library can help with referencing styles and referencing tools – in fact, we’ve a whole guide dedicated to it! Keep watching the blog for in depth information on the different tools available so you can choose the best one for you and your dissertation.

 

"Bibliography" by Alexandre Duret-Lutz. C BY-SA. Flickr.
“Bibliography” by Alexandre Duret-Lutz. C BY-SA. Flickr.

 

  • Opening hours: Bedford Library is already open 24/5 (8.30 Sunday – 21.00 Friday, 8.30 – 21.00 Saturday) but from Sunday 20th April to Friday 30th May the library will be open 24/7. This is a very busy time for us, so please take care of the space, and yourselves: keep things clean, free up study spaces for others if you don’t need them, keep the noise down, and remember to go home from time to time!
  • Space to Study: if you’re looking for another place to study on campus, be sure to check the Space to Study webpages. We’ve teamed up with departments across campus to free up more study space you can use when inspiration strikes, and the list will continue to grow!
  • Your Librarians: every subject has its own librarian, and our job is to help you find information, get hold of the right books and journals, and help you with those tricky bibliographies. Drop us an email, or pop into Bedford Library for a chat – it’s what we’re here for!

And finally – don’t forget that there’s another department dedicated to helping you write the best essays and build the best study skills. Visit the Academic Support webpages for access to the online skills4studycampus course, help with time management, essay structure, and much more.

Follow the #librarylovesdissertations hashtag and click on librarylovesdissertations tagcloud on the blog for further updates.

Best of luck!