Brush up on your academic skills this autumn

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you’re assigned to write an essay? Do you struggle to manage your time effectively? Do you want to get better at sitting exams?

Our colleagues in the Academic Skills Team are hosting a series of Study Skills webinars that address these common challenges and more.

These webinars are designed to support you when learning remotely and will begin on the 16th of October, running through to 8th of December. They include:

  • Referencing and good academic practice (16th October)
  • Scheduling your study and managing your time (19th October)
  • Study independently: what to do beyond attending your (online) lectures (29th October)
  • Develop your critical evaluation writing skills (10th November)
  • Referencing and good academic practice (19th November)
  • Reflective writing: how to approach this unique assignment format (26th November)
  • Drawing to revise: mind maps, concept mapping and visualisation (30th November)
  • Effective revision strategies (8th December)

For more information and to sign up, visit the Academic Skills page on the Student Hub.

COVID-19 in America: Response, Issues, and Law

COVID-19 in America: Response, Issues, and Law is a brand new database available via HeinOnline focusing on issues related to the ongoing global pandemic from a U.S. perspective. Continue reading COVID-19 in America: Response, Issues, and Law

Services and Resources Status Updates

Have you ever wondered why a library resource is not working or wanted to check if there is any upcoming system maintenance? You can now quickly do so, by checking our Current status of library services and resources page!

We knew that having a centralised place to check would make your life easier, so we worked hard to produce a tool that would clearly show you the status of Library Services’ core systems and services. So now, in one place, we are able to highlight to you known issues and periods of service disruption, and provide you with information on alternatives where necessary.

On that page you will be able to check the status of our online resources, services and spaces. Specific major issues are highlighted at the top, but you can click on each category to get more details on what is happening (an alert shows next to a category when there is an issue related to it), and learn about other potential issues:

  • In Online resources are listed current issues with library resources and news items about upcoming maintenance, as well as workarounds for known issues. If you have found an issue with a resource, this page may tell you why. If not, you can report the issue to e-access@city.ac.uk
  • By checking the status of our Services, you will know if any of them is disrupted – did you know that all but one are available at the moment?
  • Currently all our physical Spaces are closed, of course, but this will be a useful page to remember checking when we reopen.  

Give it a quick try at https://libanswers.city.ac.uk/systems –  see what’s happening and what will be happening soon!

LibKey Nomad, a useful tool for research

Searching for articles? LibKey Nomad is what you need!

LibKey Nomad is the Chrome browser extension from Browzine that will help you find copies of either Open Access articles or articles that City subscribes to.

 

You can download the LibKey Nomad extension from the Chrome Store.

You just need to select your institution (City, University of London) then it will pop up with a link in the bottom left corner of your browser when it finds a copy of an article.

 

To get further details about how to use LibKey, take a look at this online guide, and get set for article adventures!

Copyright and Online Teaching

The following information about copyright has been compiled by Library Services to assist academic staff in preparing online material for students.

Copyright Guide: City has a Copyright Guide. There is a section about Copyright and Lecturing; a lot of the information there is also applicable to preparing resources for online teaching.

Digital course readings service: Scans of extracts from certain books and journals can be made available to students via links in Reading Lists Online, using the digital course readings service. Currently the library may be able to help academics make available larger extracts from books and journals than is normally the case, although scans will need to be provided from academics’ copies (as librarians do not have access to the books in the library at the moment). Academics should contact their subject librarian to discuss this. The Digitisation Team can also be contacted about this (digilib@city.ac.uk). More information about this service can be found at this webpage: https://libraryservices.city.ac.uk/resources/digital-course-reading.

Legal exceptions: The law permits staff and students to copy material from published works for research and private study, quotation, and educational purposes, without asking permission from publishers. You may only copy as much as is required, and in total must not copy more than 10% from any published resource.

Assistance with accessing resources: If staff and students are unable to access anything they need from the Library, they should contact us via our online chat service, which is staffed Monday-Friday, 9am – 5pm, or send us an email (library@city.ac.uk) or submit their enquiry through the Ask Us service at any time. Library staff will see if they can find a solution.

Broadcast material: City subscribes to a resource called Box of Broadcasts which has an archive of over two million TV and radio broadcasts that can be used for educational purposes. You can put links to the broadcasts in Moodle, Reading Lists Online, emails, etc. Box of Broadcasts is not normally available outside of the UK; however until the end of July 2020, staff and students who are in the EU will be able to access it.

Copyright Librarian: City’s Copyright Librarian is available to respond to copyright enquiries. He can be contacted on digilib@city.ac.uk, and aims to respond to enquiries within two working days.

Open Access journals and books:

Articles that have been published in Open Access with a Creative Commons licence may be freely shared. Open Access content may be found in the following ways:

  • BASE and CORE allow many Open Access sources around the world to be searched
  • Sherpa Search is a trial search service to search across UK Open Access institutional repositories
  • Google Scholar may indicate if an article is available to view.

For journal articles that you have written, publishers will often allow authors to use these within your institution for educational purposes. Check the publishing agreement if you are not sure.

There is a Directory of Open Access books.

Open Educational Resources: These are resources that can be freely used, and sometimes modified, by educators. They are made available under Creative Commons licences (see the Copyright Guide for further information).

Two sources of such resources are: Where to find OERs from the University of Edinburgh, and OER Commons.

Assessing risk: If you are not sure whether you may infringe copyright law, ask yourself the following questions:

    1. Is it likely that what you are doing infringes copyright?
    2. Is it likely that the copyright holder will discover your activity?
    3. Is it likely that the copyright holder will object to your activity?
    4. What is the impact (both financial and reputational) if the copyright holder was to take action against you or the University?

If the answer to the first three questions is ‘yes’, then it may be advisable to request permission from the publisher. You can also contact the Copyright Librarian (digilib@city.ac.uk) for guidance.

Further information:

The book ‘Copyright & E-learning: A guide for practitioners’ contains much helpful guidance. It is available as an e-book via Library Services.

A blog post on the UK Copyright Literacy website provides some more detail and there is a lot of other useful copyright information available too.

A lot of the above information applies at any time, not just during the current crisis.

New books – March 2020

We are adding new books to our collections every month. Use the carousel below to browse a diverse selection of the new titles added between January and March 2020 . Click on any cover to see where the book is located or to place a request.

Want to recommend a book? Tell us what’s missing from our collections via our More Books, Read for Research or Liberating City schemes. 

 

Liberating CityLibrary

This month we’re excited to launch our new initiative ‘Liberating CityLibrary’ where we’re asking students and staff to recommend books to help us improve the diversity of our collections.

We want to increase the range of books in the library written by people from a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) background, books by and about LGBTQI+ people and titles which recognise overlapping identities and experiences such as gender, class, sexuality and disability.

Liberating CityLibrary will work in a similar way to the already established book suggestion schemes ‘More Books‘ and ‘Read for Research’. To get involved all you need to do is complete our online form and if the requested book costs less than £60 and there are no copies in stock, your order will be placed within five working days.

We look forward to receiving your suggestions and will be sharing monthly highlights via CityLibrary News and social media.

If you have any questions about Liberating CityLibrary please email library@city.ac.uk.

CityLibrary gains Customer Service Excellence Standard

City’s Library Services Team has been awarded the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Standard.  The standard assesses a huge number of elements and criteria, including feedback from library users, to determine the highest quality service.

This is something we could not have achieved if it was not for the help of our wonderful customers, both students and staff, who assisted in talking with the CSE assessors and who help us run a successful service in different ways.

Social Media

Our assessors picked up on several factors relating to our relationship with our students. Our social media game was praised as being beyond the standard and, without your interaction with our tweets and posts on CityLibrary News, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, these efforts would be wasted – so thank you so much for interacting with us online as well as in person.

Continous Improvement

We were also commended on our commitment to continuous improvement where, really, it is you who drive this, you who make us a success. Without your engagement with our Feedback pop-ups, for example, we would not know how we do better – because it is what You Say that We Do. We are currently looking at the feedback we received last month but you can let us know at any time what we are doing well and what are not doing well at our Help Desks where you can talk to our staff or fill out a form.

So thank you for making us a Customer Service Excellence success!

Extended loan periods

To help you prepare for your exams, Library Services is giving you extended loan periods over the Christmas and New Year break.

 

Seven day loans

If you borrow or renew a seven day loan on Friday 6th December you won’t have to bring it back until Friday the 3rd of January.

24 hour loans

Pop in on Friday 13th December or anytime up to closing time on Monday the 23rd of December, and you will be able to keep 24 hour loans until 10am on Friday 3rd January.

You can renew seven day loans and long loans online from your Library account.

If you would like to return books, and the library happens to be closed, you can put book returns into the library book return drop. They can be found in the following locations:

  • At Northampton Square, in the University Building Walkway at bottom of the stairs up to the library
  • At Cass just outside the Learning Resource Centre
  • In the College Building, just outside the cafe near the St John’s Street entrance 
  • At Gray’s Inn Place, just outside the entrance to the Library.

Don’t forget you can stay up to date with our opening times over the Christmas and New Year period on the Library Services website and see updates on the Library social media pages on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Hold that thought: Mind Mapping with MindGenius

Understanding, organising and retaining information can be challenging. While studying and working we often need to compose and organise our written work, understand complex topics and retain information. Mindmapping can be an excellent tool to help us meet these challenges.

Depending on the task at hand mindmapping can be useful for almost everyone, but can be particularly useful for Neurodiverse profiles such as Dyslexic learners.

Mindmapping is a way of graphically representing a topic, concept or problem, so we can visualise it, making it easier to understand. Mindmapping is a versatile technique which can have many applications. Here are some examples:

Brainstorming

Mindmapping is a great way to brainstorm. You can use it to better capture your thoughts or start exploring a topic. You may find that it can help to stimulate and generate more ideas.

Capturing all of your ideas can reduce the load on your working memory. Once you can see your ideas together on one page, you can then edit and arrange them into a more organised structure. This is also useful for group brainstorms, try it on our large screens in the group study rooms and technobooths.

Planning and organising

Bring order to chaos. Before you start a task it’s a good idea to plan how you are going to do it. Mindmapping can help you plan written work such as an essay. With most digital mindmaps, as you build your map you can add more substantial notes to ideas. This means that when you export your finished mindmap into a Word document you have a logical outline structure and some content to get started with.

You could even use a mindmap to plan your research or literature search in an academic database, plotting out which keywords, synonyms and antonyms you are going to use.

A mindmap breaking down a keyword search of " a comparison of the effectiveness of exercising versus a health diet in reducing obesity in children".
A mindmap to plan a database search [click to expand].

Revision

Make your revision notes into a map. When trying to recall information it’s easier to remember the spatial layout of a map rather than linear notes. Add additional memory hooks, such as colour and images, which can prompt you to recall the associated concepts.

Breaking down complex ideas

Some topics are complicated such as land law, who is related to who in Wuthering Heights, or potential Brexit  scenarios, requiring flow charts and maps to make visual sense. It’s difficult to keep all that information in your head or to understand the connections when going backwards and forwards though linear notes.

A mindmap of Wuthering Heights characters and their relationships.
The characters of Wuthering Heights [click to expand].

So, how can I start mindmapping?

To me, Mindmapping has no strict rules, but there are some basic guiding principles you may wish to follow to keep your map effective:

  • Put your topic or essay title in the centre this is useful for keeping you on track or remind you to answer the question in hand.
  • Use single keywords (or very short phrases) so you can see at a glance what the map means when you come back to it. Key words are easier to digest and remember if you are using the map for revision. Keywords are also useful because at the mapping stage our ideas may not be fully formed sentences, but we can still easily capture and build on them.

Using MindGenius software

MindGenius 2019 software is now available on any City student Windows pc.
Staff can download the software onto their City staff desktop computer via the Software Centre. MindGenius is excellent for project management and has some advanced features to facilitate this, such as the ability to create a Gantt chart from your map at the click of a button.

MindGenius Functionality

The software is simple to use with “type and return” functionality to build you map. You can also:

  • Add attachments to keep the documents you are reading for a project or essay organised by linking them to relevant branches within the map.
  • Add notes: Add more substantial notes to each branch. As mentioned, this feature is excellent when planning an essay.
  • Export to Word: You can export your finished mind map to Word to create draft written work. In Word you will have a linear structure to work with along with your added notes.
  • Export to PowerPoint: You can use the software to help plan and create presentations.
  • The mental connection tool allows you to link ideas on different areas of you map and describe the relationship between them.
  • Categories and Filter: You can use colours to code or categorise ideas across your map. If your map becomes quite large and complex you can filter by category to concentrate on particular themes.
  • Templates such as the SWOT and PEST analysis can help encourage exploration of a topic and apply critical thinking to it.
  • If you’re really not sure where to start there are guided brainstorm tools, such as ‘solution finder’ and ‘question sets’.

A real life example

I find mindmapping incredibly useful for organising complex, but otherwise unordered ideas. To write this article I planned it first in Mind Genius.

I started by brainstorming in an unstructured way, getting every one of my ideas down on the page (which is very cathartic!). This reduced the load on my working memory. I also used the Who? What? Where? When? Question set to stimulate more ideas and identify gaps in my thinking.

Once all my ideas were on the page I could move on to organising and structuring the information using the drag and drop functionality to group ideas which came under the same theme.

Then I could think more critically and reject any of the weaker or less relevant ideas. i.e. in this article I’m not going to talk about other mindmapping software so I have deleted those branches on review.

A mindmap bout mindmapping, many ideas have been added with no real structure.
Stage 1. An unordered mindmap. [Click to expand]

A mindmap about mindmapping with more structure
Stage 2. An ordered mindmap. [Click to expand]
""
Stage 3. Mindmap exported to Word as outline text. [Click to expand]

Need Help?

If you need help or have any questions about Mind Genius contact us. We’d like to hear what you think so please add your comments below or share with fellow students how mind mapping works for you.