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Navigating the Information Jungle

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You’ve survived your first term, but where do you go from here to continue and build on your success? Liz will run through the wide variety of resources available to you through Cambridge libraries …

You’ve survived your first term, but where do you go from here to continue and build on your success? Liz will run through the wide variety of resources available to you through Cambridge libraries (both print and online), how to make sense of your reading lists and other tips and tricks to help you make the most of your time and get what you need.

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  • This session is the first of two that have been put together by the College Library staff. This session is aimed particularly at first years, but I hope it will also prove useful as a refresher to students in later years.
  • So, you’ve survived your first term, done your first pieces of work successfully and come back for more – congratulations! That is no mean feat in itself. But how can you build on that start and continue to succeed reading lists grow, and supervisors expect more independent research and thought.
  • That’s what I’m going to help you with today. The brief outline isPhysical library resourcesE-resourcesDeciphering reading listsWhen nowhere has what you needPlagiarismBeginning to reference
  • Ok, just to make sure you’re at least awake at the beginning of the session, can you all please stand up.A question for you - and don’t worry, there’s no correct answer. How many of you use the College or faculty library at least once a week – that might be studying there, or just borrowing material? If you don’t, please sit down.How many of you have used the University Library yet? Sit down…And how many of you have been into any other faculty or departmental libraries? Sit down if you haven’t.CONCLUSION BASED ON NUMBER STANDING – you can sit down now.
  • One of the great strengths and opportunities of Cambridge is the breadth of resources available to you, both physically and electronically.Focusing physically first, there are over 100 libraries within the University and, if you need to consult material in them, the answer is usually that you can. You have your College library and your main faculty library, and they should be able to cater for many of your book needs, but don’t feel limited to them – so much of the learning and research going on in Cambridge is inter-disciplinary, so expect to move between libraries for material. You can see an interactive version of this map, and find out contact details and opening hours for all of the libraries at the Cambridge Libraries Directory, the link for that is on the handout.There are a couple of caveats, in that College and Faculty libraries are generally reserved for students of that College or subject, think particularly of somewhere like the English faculty library where they cannot accommodate students just wanting to read some fiction. But if they hold material not available elsewhere that you need, you just need to ask the librarian, and you can usually at least gain access to read it there and sometimes more. If you are studying a subject like HSPS you may already have 3 or more departmental libraries that you go to for different papers on your course anyway! As your interests shift, broaden or focus during your University career always keep in mind the possibilities other libraries may be able to offer you.
  • The University Library is a copyright library, which means by law it receives a copy of every book published within the UK. It also has extensive journal collections, newspapers and large collections of non-UK English and foreign language academic books selected for the quality of their research. Academic books and bound journals can be borrowed, and everything else can be consulted in the Library. If you’re a historian, or perhaps a theologian or literature student, or indeed anyone else, you may be able to access rare books too. Understandably these are on restricted access, so you need to show your academic need, and probably need the support of a DoS or supervisor, but don’t be afraid to ask.
  • That covers in brief the physical collections available to you, but there’s also the electronic resources.Another question for you, and again no correct answer:How many of you have user an e-journal since coming to University? What about an e-book (not including leisure reading)? What about any other online database, like ArtStor, Early English Books Online, Web of Science or PubMed?How many of you have found an e-journal, e-book or database you wanted to look at through a Google or Google Scholar search? And have you paid to access it?Certainly when it comes to journal articles, the University has electronic access to an enormous amount, but you may not discover that it is available to you free of charge if you use Google as your only search tool. Don’t get me wrong, Google is an incredibly powerful way to find things, but it can’t tell you whether you can get that information for free. Use Google to find things you want to read if you like, but then use the University webpages to check if you can gain that information for free.So you’ve got something you want to find – let’s go through the steps together.
  • Adriana Vlachou has published an article on The EU’s emissions trading system in the Cambridge Journal of Economics. You’d like to have a look at it.First of all you try Google. You find a result…
  • …but when you click through and select the full text you are prompted to login or pay. This article costs $38 for a single day’s access. This login box will not recognise your Raven credentials.
  • Try again by going to the University Library’s webpages. You can use LibrarySearch, LibrarySearch+ or the ejournals page to search for the Cambridge Journal of Economics – only LibrarySearch+ allows you to search for actual article titles, but if you have information on the journal it was published in there’s no problem. Newton will give you information on any paper copies of the journal held in libraries, but won’t give the e-journal information.
  • You select the resource and try to click through. If you are on an MCS machine it will recognise you as part of the University and log you straight in, and would probably do the same straight from Google, but for laptops and other wireless devices and when you aren’t in Cambridge, going in via University webpages will trigger a prompt for you to login to Raven. Once you’ve done this the article and indeed the whole journal will be accessible for free.
  • It’s worth bearing in mind that the University spends over £5million each year on e-resources – that’s access to e-journals, e-books and databases, so take advantage of that by gaining your access for free.HANDOUT WITH WEB ADDRESSES FOR E-JOURNALS, E-RESOURCES, LIBRARYSEARCH, LIBRARYSEARCH+
  • So now you know how to find things, but can you identify what it is you’re actually searching for in the first place?
  • When approaching a reading list there are two main things that may cause you problems: identifying what type of item you are looking for, and then understanding how best to search for it.The three main types of item that you will encounter on your reading lists are: 1) normal books (sometimes called ‘monographs’) 2) specific chapters in books 3) journal articles.The normal books are of course the commonest and most easily identifiable items, but the others can potentially cause confusion, not least because different reading list compilers’ have different styles of listing, and they tend to make assumptions about a level of knowledge of a subject.
  • Here is an example of a chapter from a book, as it features on a reading list:G. Nagy ‘Homer and Greek Myth’ in ‘The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology’, ed. R. Woodard, CUP 2008It is important to know that you cannot search using the chapter name or chapter author in library catalogues. You need to identify that this is part of a book, and search for that book title and author. Usually it will say ‘…’ in ‘…’ so look out for that.
  • Here is an example of a journal article:  J. Tomlinson ‘Thrice Denied: “Declinism” as a Recurrent Theme in British History in the Long Twentieth Century,’ TCBH, 20 (2009) Often the reading list will state the title and author of the article, alongside the acronym and issue of the journal, or the full title and issue.If the full journal title is there it is usually easy to recognise that it is a journal, and the presence of the issue or volume information also indicates this. Acronyms will almost exclusively be journals, but the problem here is identifying which journal it is. Again, like for chapters in books, you cannot necessarily search for the article title, you have to search for that journal, then find the article within that. So acronyms obviously make that tricky!Often those making the reading list may not think to remember that undergraduates won’t have encountered these acronyms before, and so they may not make a key of what the journal titles are. There is also no one entirely reliable online directory of all journal acronyms as there are so many journals across different subjects using the same acronyms. You can try googling it, looking for the article title may provide the journal information, but it may be easiest to ask the person who set you the reading list, or your department librarian. There’s also a link on the sheet I’ve just given you to quite a useful site for deciphering journal acronyms.
  • Once you have identified what kind of item you are searching for, how do you use the catalogues to search for it? There are many guides for how to get the most out of the different catalogues available, for example on the UL website, on our blog and in our info sheet found above the drop boxes. We really recommend looking there, but for now I just want to draw your attention to a couple of things to bear in mind.
  • It is important to know that for the majority of reading lists, which provide quite full details about each item, you should never copy and paste the whole line of information or type the whole thing out. (Maybe explain why, e.g. because this is not how the book or journal is laid out in the catalogue record?) This is an example of what happens if you do that in each of the catalogues:
  • It is best to search using key words – perhaps the author’s surname if it is unusual, or a an unusual phrase or word in the title. You can use just the full title but picking out the unusual may save you some typing time.
  • In general we recommend that you use the Heritage catalogue if you want to find out if the item is in Homerton, and LibrarySearch for the faculties and UL, as this is better than the Newton catalogues in many ways. LibrarySearch+ is brilliant for articles, but will bring back an enormous set of results, and that may include things that the University does not have full access to.Libraries may have paper copies of some journals (e.g. on our second floor) but mostly you will be looking at online material.
  • Not all academics are fully aware of what you can access for free – I have seen reading lists say that you will need to pay to view newspapers – this is not true – just search for LexisNexis on the e-resources page! The other thing to remember when tackling reading lists is that they do quite often contain mistakes. Misspellings, particularly of author surnames do happen, so finding no results for your search may not be accurate. If you are surprised that no library in the whole of Cambridge has something then check in Google to see if the author is slightly wrong.Titles do also get mixed up. The person compiling the list may be putting the title down from memory and get it slightly wrong, or more often the subtitle changes between editions, even though the book is the same. So sometimes just searching for the main title is a safer bet.And remember:you can always ask your librarians and we will happily help!Have a look at Emma Coonan’s advice and guidelines, links to which will be at the end and are on your handout, as there are some really good tips on judging how to get through big reading lists
  • I’ll put my hands up at this point and say yes, sometimes the Library doesn’t have the book you want, and that will be the same for any library in Cambridge. We don’t have bottomless funds, or staff working 24/7. Please do request books for us to buy, but realise at the very least they will take a day or two to arrive, and often longer. We want to know what’s missing so we build our collections with the right material, but a last minute recommendation for this week’s essay topic may not arrive in time. But, we might just have a few pieces of advice to help you get what you need.
  • First off, have you checked if the book is anywhere in a Cambridge library? If there is only one copy, as I’ve said, you can probably go to look at it.Maybe that isn’t the case though, but all the copies are out from the libraries you have access to. Make sure you check whether an ebook is available. It should come up in the results on LibrarySearch and Heritage, but if you are using Newton it won’t display the ebook result. So unless you have a really good reason to use Newton I’d recommend looking elsewhere.Another option is to check Googlebooks. They may have either a complete, or more often a partial version of the book. If you’ve been told to look at just a particular chapter or two you may find all of it available to you there.
  • Along similar lines is Amazon’s look inside feature. You need to be logged into an Amazon account, but you can then look inside many books. And, whilst what you get as a preview is limited, if you’ve got your quotation but don’t know what page it was from you can put the quote into the search inside box and often get the page number that way.Sometimes you can access most of a book using this method too.Say you start reading chapter one, and then the preview ends on page 7. If you find an unusual phrase on that last page, page 7, type it into the search inside box and hit go. Amazon will bring up the results for that phrase from inside the book. Select the page you were just on, and Amazon will usually provide the next few pages after it if they have them. On many occasions you can read a lot of a book by repeating this process whenever the preview runs out. It is a bit clunky, but again may provide you with what you need in the absence of having the book in front of you.
  • Ok, so you’ve found what you’re looking for – but what about actually including it in your piece of work? One thing you need to be very careful about is plagiarism. Can anyone give me a definition or example of plagiarism?You probably have no intention of committing plagiarism. However I’ve got a couple of somewhat surprising facts coming up.
  • Almost half of the students in this survey plagiarised during their time in Cambridge. Some of the reasons given included heavy workloads and pressure to meet deadlines, but many of the people responding to the survey said it hadn’t been made clear to them what counted as plagiarism and what was okay. So I’m going to run through exactly what constitutes plagiarism.
  • If you use an argument you have read, whether you directly quote it or whether you paraphrase it in completely different words, if you use someone else’s ideas, whether it’s an author or a classmate you’ve collaborated with, you MUST acknowledge the other person properly otherwise it is plagiarism. Obviously if you submit someone else’s work and try to pass it off as your own that’s outright cheating!
  • If you are caught plagiarising, even without intent, this could have serious consequences for your academic career. If you submit an assessed piece of work to the University that includes plagiarised elements the best case scenario is that you will be given a 0 for that paper. In many cases that will mean you stand no chance of a good final grade for your course. Don’t be scared by this, but perhaps cultivate a healthy low level of paranoia when it comes to crediting sources.
  • Most people think of references and bibliographies as that annoying bit at the end of the essay. Why is referencing so important?
  • Basically academic writing is a dialogue. You are building on other people’s work so you must give them credit. In turn, you would expect to get recognition for the hard work you’ve done yourself. One day in the not too distant future your dissertation, thesis or articles you write may be being quoted by others, including students. So, I hope that’s fairly clear. But you may now be asking, “how should I reference?”
  • Come along to our next session on 19th February to find out more how to go about referencing, and some tools that will make it a lot more painless. But I’m going to tell you a couple of easy things you can start doing now, that will make your life a lot easier when it comes to putting references in your essays.
  • Most departments will have a preferred (or even a required) referencing style. If you don’t know what style you should be using, ask your departmental secretary or at your department library. As you are taking notes, make sure that it is clear which parts are direct quotes, what is you paraphrasing what the author said, and which parts are genuinely your own responses to what you’ve been reading. Use colours/symbols/whatever works. And remember, whenever you write down a quote or paraphrase in your notes, also jot down where it came from – and that includes page numbers!

Transcript

  • 1. Navigating the information jungle Liz Osman, College Librarian
  • 2. “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” Albert Einstein Photo by F. Schmutzer (1921) Public domain under Wikimedia Commons
  • 3. In this session… • • • • • • Physical library resources E-resources Deciphering reading lists When nowhere has what you need Plagiarism Beginning to reference
  • 4. On your feet!
  • 5. Over 100 libraries in Cambridge = Colleges = Department/Faculty = UL and affiliated libraries = Other
  • 6. Journals & newspapers Rare books Copyright library Foreign language books Non-UK English language books The University Library
  • 7. Electronic resources
  • 8. Googling it
  • 9. Need to pay to access?
  • 10. Find it in the catalogue
  • 11. Recognised as Cambridge
  • 12. Photo © AMC £5 million/year on e-resources
  • 13. What am I looking for? Photo by Thom http://www.flickr.com/photos/minifig/
  • 14. What am I looking for? Normal books (monographs) Book chapters Journal articles
  • 15. Book chapters G. Nagy, ‘Homer and Greek Myth’ in The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology, ed. R. Woodward, CUP 2008
  • 16. Journal articles J. Tomlinson, ‘Thrice Denied: “Declinism” as a Recurrent Theme in British History in the Long Twentieth Century’ TCBH, 20 (2009)
  • 17. Library catalogues
  • 18. Copying & pasting from a reading list
  • 19. Copying & pasting from a reading list
  • 20. Copying & pasting from a reading list
  • 21. A better way to search
  • 22. When to use each catalogue Heritage Library Search Library Search + Homerton library Faculty & department libraries Articles UL Journal titles Results include abstracts etc. as well as full access articles
  • 23. Academics make mistakes too! Photo by AHD Photography http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahdchild/
  • 24. What to do when this happens…
  • 25. Other places to look E-books Google Books Other libraries that you have access to Amazon Look Inside
  • 26. Amazon Look Inside
  • 27. What is plagiarism? XKCD ‘Wikipedian Protester’, http://xkcd.com/285/
  • 28. of Cambridge students have plagiarised during their time at University Michael Stothard ‘1 in 2 admits to Plagiarism’, Varsity (October 2008)
  • 29. It is plagiarism if you… Quote someone else’s work Repeat someone else’s argument in different words (paraphrasing) Use ideas taken from someone else Collaborate with someone else Submit someone else’s work as your own …without acknowledging the other person
  • 30. did not know that failing to cite sources could be considered plagiarism Michael Stothard ‘1 in 2 admits to Plagiarism’, Varsity (October 2008)
  • 31. Why is referencing important?
  • 32. Why is referencing important? GIVE credit – for the work that you are building on GET credit – for the work that you have done yourself
  • 33. Session on th February 19 Research Survival Guide: Mastering your Dissertation or Project
  • 34. Two things you can do RIGHT NOW:
  • 35. For more information… Pop in and see us in the Library, or email library@homerton.cam.ac.uk The UL runs further research skills courses: http://training.cam.ac.uk/cul This session was adapted from some of Emma Coonan’s presentations at: http://researchcentral.wordpress.com/