Category Archives: Study Skills

Focus on an Archive Researcher: Eve Smith

 

Eve Smith is a first year doctoral candidate in the Drama and Theatre department.

Roy Waters as a young manAbove: Roy Waters as a Young Man

Since August I have spent a lot of time sat in a room on the third floor of The Founder’s Building, looking out over the quad and listening to the clock chime the hours away. This room houses the archives of RHUL. It is due to one of the collections within the archive that I received a place to study for a Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Drama and Theatre Department and the Victoria and Albert Museum in January 2013. This collection is called the Roy Waters Theatre Collection and helped to inspire my PhD which is concerned with collectors of theatrical ephemera and the private and public spaces occupied by the collection. The Roy Waters Theatre Collection is a result of Roy’s collecting over a period of forty years. It contains an enormous number of objects related to the theatre such as playbills, posters, autograph letters and photographs, with a particular emphasis on ephemera concerning Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward. The notion that the archive is solely a resource for history students is a great misconception: the breadth and wealth of information contained in the Roy Waters Theatre Collection is an invaluable source for any drama student at RHUL. Indeed, the archives also contain Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company collections and RedShift Theatre Company collections amongst others. Similarly, Blythe House in West Kensington holds the theatre and performance archives for the V&A and is another fantastic archival resource for drama students that I often use.

At this point in my studies, I am more interested in who the collector is, and the motivations for collecting theatrical ephemera rather than the actual content of the collection itself. Since the summer, therefore, I have been working on the personal papers contained within Roy’s collection. Eighty boxes hold Roy’s old bank statements, family trees, diary entries and personal photographs. I have found this research absolutely fascinating and, at times, very amusing (Roy’s diaries and newsletters demonstrate his wonderful way with words and his weakness for gossip!) Roy died in 2010 and it is a privilege to be able to read through the personal papers of a man who, unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet. I am now aware of intimate details concerning Roy’s health, his friendships, his daily routine and, vitally, his motivations for collecting. Working with such collections in the archive, and particularly handling such objects, allows the researcher to feel a surprisingly strong connection to the past and develop a genuine relationship with the person behind the collection. This in-depth exploration of Roy has greatly enriched my own research on collections and collectors and I genuinely look forward to going up to the archive to see what I will discover next.

The scale of a collection can be daunting. Roy’s collection is very large. The material housed in just the very first box of Roy’s personal papers is so dense that I sometimes doubt I’ll ever get through all eighty of them! It is therefore incredibly useful to have a defined purpose or research question in mind when accessing the collections. Without this there is the real possibility of spending hours and hours looking through beautiful objects or reading hundreds of diary entries without any clear idea of what it is you hope to discover. Although this makes for a pleasant afternoon, you may come away with little idea of how this has impacted upon or benefited your research. It is also really important to access the online catalogue for the collections before you start work in the archives. The catalogues contain hugely detailed descriptions of the boxes within the collection and the contents found within them. This is a fantastic way to hone in on the specific objects that may be valuable to your work as well as providing a more general overview of the contents of a particular collection.

The romantic image of the dusty, silent archive may not be entirely accurate but there is something rather special about opening up a box and untying the cream ribbon from the individual folders to explore what is housed inside. I think that this is where the appeal of the archive really lies: the possibility of discovering something that has the potential to hugely inform, enrich, and even subvert your research. Whatever your subject area or research topic, the archive is an invaluable resource. Start by exploring the catalogues online to see what the collections at RHUL contain: you never know what treasures you may stumble upon.

 

You can find out more about our Roy Waters Theatre Collection in this online exhibition.

 

Spotlight on a Researcher: Laura Christie

Please start by introducing yourself

My name is Laura Christie; I’m an Educational Development officer in the Educational Development Office. Laughs
Laura
 How long have you been at RHUL?

Just a month! Just today I have my one month review.

Are you enjoying it so far?

Yes yes, it’s been interesting coming from a different university to see the changes in how different departments are run, different universities are run, this is a much bigger university than the one I worked at before.

What is your role at RHUL?  

Well, 50% of the role is developing the Generic Skills Programme (GSP) for Postgraduate Research students (PGR) and teaching on it- I teach the academic writing courses, the other 50% is helping and teaching on the inSTIL programme which is a teacher training programme for PGR students.

What did you want to be when you were little?

I wanted to be journalist,  a war correspondent.

I wasn’t outgoing at all, and yet I wanted to be a journalist, I was shy as anything & wouldn’t talk to anyone but something about war corresponding, travelling, and being in the centre of all the action really appealed to me at the time. And then as soon as I started my English degree that all went out the window because I was so inspired by my English tutors and I just wanted to stay in university and teach English literature.

Do you have any hero (es), and why?

This is a hard question..

Ages ago I wrote a biography on the poet Alice Meynell , Alice Meynell was from the Victorian period has 8 kids and managed to be editor of different academic, poetry and fiction journals. And she was a poet herself. She had such a profusive writing career and managed to maintain a family and a household, and she had various medical issues as she got older as well, and managed to keep on top of everything- that’s pretty heroic to me!

You’ve already told us a little bit but what’s your degree/masters etc. in?

My first degree was in English Literature, and then I went straight into a Masters in Women, gender & writing so that focused on writing from 1750’s to present.

My PhD was in English Literature and actually was partially psycho analysis as well.

What advice do you wish you’d known when you were studying for your PhD? (give something wise to current students?)

I think two things.

One is, Well, it’s a plug for the GSP; but one is knowing about and knowing that I should because it will help in the long run, participate in these inter disciplinary type programmes. I was involved eventually during my PhD process, in helping to organise a PhD conference and that gave me the opportunity to meet with all the other PhD students, whereas before that it was very isolated. The first 2 years of my PhD were quite isolated until the University got a programme running and so participating in these sorts of programmes is really good.

The other thing is, I think I would have wanted to have realised, or be told earlier, that a PhD is only the start of an academic career, it barely even touches the start. The start is publishing, publishing is such a big thing, I wish I had known that at the beginning and I wish I had courses available to me, which weren’t at the time because it was a while before researcher training became popular. To know that during my PhD I should have been publishing, and I spent a lot of time teaching which is equally valuable and I got teacher training certificate while doing a PhD but you have go one further and you have to publish if you want an academic career, because coming out of the PhD with a teaching training cert is not enough.

 What was the hardest thing you found about studying?

I suppose it would be discipline, but I am actually quite disciplined so it’s not been an issue for me.

I guess the hardest bit is the isolation, not because I am massively social, but it helps to meet people who are going through the same things as you are, even if it’s once a month, once every couple of months just to know you’re all going through the same thing which is why having these shut up and write  sessions is a fabulous idea, giving people the opportunity to get together and informally talk about things. That was very hard being quite isolated, and it was knowing that it was only yourself pushing you forward, your supervisor can set targets but you’re doing it for yourself, you got no reason to submit something on a certain day to a supervisor, it’s just you propelling yourself forward.

 

 

Shut up & Write: the event!

Procrastination Meter

The dreaded write up..

Many post graduate researchers talk about how difficult it can be to just sit down and write, write up their research, their notes, because research can sometimes only involve you, it can make it harder to remain motivated and focused.

Unfortunately, the nature of some research plus the lack of space provision on campus for post graduates often results in these students feeling a little lost, alone and disheartened.

To try and reveal some of these anxieties.. the Library services have set up ‘Shut up & Write’ an event for post graduates only.

It’s a pretty simple concept.. you turn up, you sit down, you write..

Then afterwards you get the chance to meet other postgraduate students and staff in your own dedicated space.

These events have proved popular across the country with other libraries, we hope that is will give you a time and place to crack on with some work before discussing ideas with others in a similar situation.

Here are the list of sessions for 2013/2014 so far!

9th December 2013; http://shutupwritedecember.eventbrite.co.uk 

21st January 2014; http://shutupwritenewyear.eventbrite.co.uk

17th February 2014; http://shutupwritefebruary.eventbrite.co.uk

31st March 2014; http://shutupwritemarch.eventbrite.co.uk

15th April 2014; http://shutupwriteapril.eventbrite.co.uk

Booking Essential, All sessions run 13.45- 16.30 unless otherwise stated.

 

Just Write

 

Top tips for New Students!

Some of the Library Liaison Team were asked what advice they would give to a new student coming to Royal Holloway.

It’s not always Library related, but it is funny and definitely helpful!

We are looking forward to welcoming new & returning students to the Library, make sure you attend your Library Inductions in your departments to get the most out of the Library straight away.

Catch the Library Liaison team 10am-12 noon everyday throughtout Welcome Week in the Welcome Week tent in the South Quad.

Check out our Twitter https://twitter.com/RHUL_Library

 

Searching for Eresources in Library Search

One of the improvements to Library Search is that you can now search for an Eresource within it. For example if you want to go direct to JSTOR you can just search for JSTOR and get a link to the resource.

You can also search for groups of Eresources in a subject area by selecting E-resource collections  under Resource Type (you may need to select More Options as this video shows)

Library Search – Save your query

You can save queries to run them again at a later date.

To do this you will need to sign in

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Scroll to the bottom left of the page and the options below are there:

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You can save the query by selecting save query

You then have the option to name your query

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You can also select Save & Alert.

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Enter your email address and Library Search will email you when new results are added.

When you have saved your query this screen appears

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 6.04.49 pmNow go to e-shelf and select the queries tab

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To view the results click on the query name.

 

Library Search – Find a Book

To find a book in Library Search you can use the search box on the main Library home page or the one on Library search:

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  • In the search box enter one or two key words from the title and the surname of the author

e.g. for  Study Skills Connected by Stella Cottrell, type: Cottrell study skills

  • Click the Search button
  • Click the Books, Music and Films tab to narrow the results to just books
  • When the search results appear you can also narrow to just e-book results, by clicking Electronic Books in the Collection menu or the Full Text Online option under Show Only

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  • Check that the search result matches yours i.e. the author, title and year of publication is correct.

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One or more of these links are displayed under each result

  • Find & Request – there are one or more printed copies of this book
  • View Online – this book is available as an e-book
  • Both Find & Request AND View Online – this book is available in print and as an e-book
  • View all versions of this title – there are multiple editions of this title and/or it is available in print and as an e-book
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Now  store your search results.

Top 5 tips for getting ahead with your Dissertation this summer

1. Master search techniques

Plan your search strategy at the start and you will be able to find lots of relevant resources which will save you time in the long run.

  • What exactly is the topic you are searching for?
  • What are the main concepts or keywords for your topic?
  • Are there any similar words that describe each of these concepts?
  • How might you combine these keywords together to search? 
  • Use tricks like Wildcards and Truncation to search effectively. There is more information on this here.  
  • Look at the Cited by and Cited references for what you have found – save time by using the references in good research to find more good research. 

There is lots of help in the Library Space on Moodle about this.

This video shows you how to Search Smarter and Search Faster:


 2. Evaluate your resources

You have mastered your search techniques but you now you need to think whether your results are good enough. This presentation will give you some guidance in how to evaluate information.

http://prezi.com/q5jglgamre6c/copy-of-evaluating-information/

3. Check Senate House

You have access to all the eresources provided by Senate House Library along with those provide by RHUL. You need to register but this is easy to do and instructions are here.

You can search through their websites or you can connect to Senate House through Google Scholar. There is more information on this in this post.

4. Use the library

The library is your best friend at dissertation time. You can come in or use our virtual enquiry services to ask questions. Keep an eye on the Blog and Moodle for new training being offered. But most importantly use the Library Subject pages to find out which resources are best for your subject.

5. Manage your references and Get organised

Managing your references using RefWorks

RefWorks is an online bibliographic management program which enables you to capture, save and organize references into your own personal database. As a member of RHUL you can access it via the library homepage link to E-resources A-Z. It enables you to:

 

     Capture and save references generated from online databases

     Automatically generate a bibliography in your document

     Insert citations directly into your research (i.e. word document)

     Format your references in a wide range of citation styles

 

RefWorks includes a comprehensive set of online self-help tutorials, or you may wish to sign up for the one of the RefWorks sessions that the Library regularly runs or try the self-study start up guide:

http://www.rhul.ac.uk/library/helpandsupport/findinginformation.aspx

Use tools like Evernote and Dropbox to organise your notes.

Search Techniques

 

Truncation / wildcard searching

 > Use to: widen your search and ensure you don’t miss relevant search results

Most databases are not intelligent, they will just search for exactly what you type in.  Truncation and wildcard symbols enable you to overcome this limitation.  These search techniques find information on similar words by replacing part of the word with a symbol usually a * or ?.

     In truncation the end of the word is replaced. For example theat* will find results including the words theatre, theater, theatric, theatrical and so on.

      In wildcard searching, single letters from inside the word are replaced with a symbol. For example wom?n will retrieve the terms woman and women.

Please note! Different databases use different symbols for truncation and wildcard searching, so use the online help option to check what is used.

 

Search operators

 > Use to: combine your search words and include synonyms

Also known as Boolean operators, search operators allow you to join terms together, widen a search or exclude terms from your search results. This means you can be more precise in locating your information. Not all databases support Boolean searching.

  • ANDNarrows your search by combining words. The results found must contain all the words which you have joined by using AND.

  • ORBroadens your search to include resources which contain any or all of the terms connected by OR.

  • NOTNarrows your search by excluding a term.  Beware! By using this operator you might exclude relevant records because you will lose those records which include both words.

 

Please note! Check the online help screens for details of the search operators recognized by the database you are searching; some use symbols instead of words, e.g. + or &.

 

 Phrase searching

> Use to: make your search more specific

Phrase searching is a technique that narrows your search down by searching for an exact phrase or sentence. It is particularly useful when searching for a title or a quotation. Usually speech marks are used to connect the words together. For example “Power transition theory will find results which contain that phrase. Some search tools may use (brackets) or ‘single quote marks’ rather than speech marks so check the online help.

 

Focusing a search by date, language or document type

There are many ways to focus your search and all databases offer different ways of doing this. Check the help facilities if the options are not immediately obvious. Some of the ways of limiting your search are as follows:

     Date of publication

     Language

     Place of publication

     Publication type

     Age groups

     Type of material e.g. chapters in books, review articles, book reviews

“Cited reference” / “cited by” / “times cited” search

When you find a useful article or book, looking at its bibliography will give you information about other, older, books and articles on your research topic. Some databases also allow you to search for literature which has cited the article or book you have found. This can give you useful leads on more recent research on the same topic. There is no standard name for this type of search; depending on which database you are searching it may be referred to as “Cited reference” or “cited by” or “times cited”.

 

 

3.8 Saving your search results

You usually have the option to select specific search results to keep by marking or tagging them. Most databases will offer the following methods of saving your search results:

     Email search results to yourself.

     Save to your PC or memory stick.

     Create your own account within certain databases to save your searches to re-run later or set up alerts

     Print out

     Export to bibliographic management software such as RefWorks or Endnote

     You can use alerting services such as Zetoc Alerts to receive regular e-mails to update you on new publications. Once the alert is set up, it happens automatically, so you do not need to re-run literature searches at a later stage, unless you wish to – http://zetoc.mimas.ac.uk/

 

It is good practice to keep a record of which database you used and the search query you used.

Exam preparation

The Easter eggs have been eaten and the clocks have changed. This must mean the run up to the exam period has started and people are revising all over the college.

There are also 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.
  • Bubbl.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 (more are being added all the time):

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