30 April 2015

Students, have your say

Whether you love the Library or think we can improve in some areas, your voice matters to us. Complete this year's student-only online survey and help make things happen in your Library.

From 4-17 May 2015 the Library will run an online survey exclusively for students, who have comprised the majority of the respondents in the past surveys.

Here are a few things we have done in response to what respondents told us two years ago:

Monitor computers and spaces to ensure more equitable use 
  • We introduced PC Finder to make it easier for users to find an available computer in the Matheson, Law and Hargrave-Andrew Libraries at Clayton and in the Caulfield Library. 
  • We are also piloting online Library Room Booking for students to book a meeting or study room more conveniently. The pilot is available for Berwick, Law, Peninsula and Matheson Libraries.
Add more quiet and group study where space is available 
  • We are refurbishing the Matheson and Caulfield Libraries. The refurbishments will provide a range of individual quiet and collaborative study areas, with a 25% increase in seating to 1,500 seats at Matheson and a 100% increase to 1,500 seats at Caulfield.
  • At Clayton campus, we have added 107 seats in the Law Library plus an extra 18 seats as well as additional power to 34 desks for laptop use in the Hargrave-Andrew Library.
Introduce new Search functionality 
  • A number of new features have been added to Search, the Library’s discovery platform. These include QR codes for item location and call numbers, Altmetrics that tells you how many times an article has been mentioned in major social media channels, predictive searching offering a list of searches you can click on rather than typing all your search terms and virtual browse tab.
  • Library staff have also created a new online guide for using Search.
So take this opportunity to have your say.

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29 April 2015

WWII maps of Pacific preserved online

Monash University Research Repository has recently completed a mammoth project digitising   World War II maps and terrain Barbara Wojtkowski and Bronwyn Foott.

Terrain Studies - Repository
One of the AGS maps: Seeadler Harbour, Manus Island,
 Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea
Since Australian and New Zealand Forces landed at Gallipoli 100 years  ago, Australian Forces have taken part in many campaigns all over the world, including, during World War II, in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) immediately north of Australia.

Monash University Research Repository has now digitised all Monash holdings of a critical geographic resource from that period, the Terrain Studies.

The South West Pacific was a key destination for Australian Forces, but unfortunately very little was actually known about it. After all, who had actually mapped all the island chains, all the numerous archipelagos and highlands? What were the conditions? Who lived there? Was there any food that could be found locally? What about diseases? And thousands of our young people were about to go into these areas to survive, fight and die. What to do?

In the background, away from the front line, an organisation called the Allied Geographical Service (AGS) was formed in 1942 with the task of remedying this situation. Its function was to prepare various ‘publications’ to address this lack of fundamental and critical information. Among the AGS’ publications were the Terrain Studies whose purpose was to cover a specified area as completely as possible from a military perspective. This they did under difficult conditions, with very limited resources, often with only three weeks’ notice. By the time of its dissolution in November, 1945, the AGS had produced 110 Terrain Studies.

The Studies themselves contain detailed text, photographs, diagrams, maps and often annotations, as new information came to hand; everything that could be found from every possible source in Australia and overseas in the time allowed. They were used in planning and later as the basis for another publication, the Terrain Handbooks, which had a wider distribution. These Terrain Studies have now been digitised in their entirety – each Study, the text, the photos, maps and diagrams in exquisite and intricate detail.

So, why are they so important? Why make a fuss about something which was used so far in the past?....  History, is one major reason. In addition to valuable academic research in the field, these resources may be useful to personal researchers who are tracing the last movements of relatives.

For use with a modern application, the maps and annotations are highly accurate. Their application to coastal change, climate change and related disciplines is unquestionable.

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28 April 2015

Enabling staff and student copyright compliance

Are you aware of your responsibilities as a Monash student or staff member when using and sharing material which somebody else owns the copyright to? 

The first thing to do is to know the policy and procedures for compliance.

Following an extensive review and consultation process beginning in early 2014, the revised versions of the University Copyright Compliance Policy and Procedures have received final approval from the University's Academic Board.

The review process included broad University input and consultation. The range of feedback provided undoubtedly resulted in improved wording and clarity of the Policy and Procedures.

A statement in the Procedures has been added regarding the measures the University takes to support staff compliance with the Part VB copyright licence provisions. This statement relates to staff use of the University's online reading list service for provision of Part VB material for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching units. This change aligns with an existing provision in the Staff IT Use policy on services provided for staff to assist with copyright compliance. It also aligns with the policy or procedure statements of a number of other Australian universities.

Staff and students may access detailed advice and guidelines about copyright on the University Copyright website.

This article was contributed by Lisa Smith, Director Education and Megan Deacon, Copyright Adviser.

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27 April 2015

5 strategies to manage your group assignment

Practical strategies to manage the challenges of working in a group can spell success for your next group project or assignment... by Sebastian Borutta
Do you dread working on a group assignment?  Are you sick of group members dropping off the radar, and having to carry the group across the line?  Research into attitudes towards group work among undergraduate students would suggest that you are not alone.  One study revealed that more than half of undergraduate students surveyed had a negative attitude towards group work, with around 40% stating that they would rather work alone[i].
According to the study, the most significant factors that contributed towards negative attitudes were difficulty coordinating schedules and “free riders” in the group, followed by members not contributing equally and differing grade expectations[ii].

Why have group assignments at all?

Unsurprisingly, the ability to work in a group is an increasingly important skill required by employers; therefore, students who have experience working in groups are better prepared for the collaborative nature of work in their future careers.[i]  Consequently, as a student it is useful to develop strategies to effectively work in a group setting. 

So how can we try to manage these challenges?

The following five-part plan will offer prompts to consider for when you embark on your next group task.
1.  Group formation and expectations
  • If given the choice, select group members who you can work with effectively. Friends are not necessarily the best option.
  • Develop ground rules to guide your group’s behaviour and activities.
  • Assign roles based on members’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Ensure that all members are involved in initial planning discussions. Members who feel that their voice is heard during these discussions are less likely to disengage from the group.
  • Ensure members have compatible availability, or options to maintain regular contact with the group.
  • Set goals such as grade expectations early, and together as a group.
2.  Scheduling and meetings
  • Organise regular meeting times from the beginning of the task, including expected outcomes for each meeting.
  • Consider the advantages and disadvantages of face-to-face VS online meetings when deciding on meeting format.
  • Record decisions made, and the allocation and progress of tasks.
3.  Division of work
  • Before dividing work, ensure that the group has a clear understanding of the task, and all the associated work involved in the task’s completion.
  • Determine an equitable method of dividing work.
  • If this is difficult or not immediately obvious, share initial tasks and then divide the workload. For example, share the initial research stage of a task and then divide up the written component once you have a better idea of task expectations.
4.  Communication
  • Be polite and respectful when communicating with each other.
  • Ensure team members listen carefully, and with an open mind to each other’s suggestions.
  • Be aware of your non-verbal communication when engaging with the group.
  • When giving feedback, also focus on positive aspects rather than only negative aspects.
  • Don’t take constructive feedback personally.
5.  Dealing with conflict
  • Problems usually arise due to group dynamics or task progression.
  • If conflict arises, as a group, clearly identify the problem.
  • Consider solutions to address the problem, allowing specific and constructive discussion.
  • Focus discussion on ideas rather than individuals.
  • As a group, make necessary changes and revise initial plans.
Group work can be challenging and rewarding, both in an educational setting and in the workplace. Through planning and by anticipating and managing potential challenges, you can help your group work experience be a more positive one.

For more information on group work, or any other aspects of your approach to learning, take a look at the Library’s online resources, meet with a learning skills adviser at a drop-in session, or attend a workshop.

[i] Gottschall, H. & Garcia-Bayonas, M. (2008). Student attitudes towards group work among undergraduates in Business Administration, Education and Mathematics. Educational Research Quarterly, 32(1), 2-28.
[ii] ibid
[iii) Hansen R. (2006) Benefits and problems with student teams: Suggestions for improving team projects. The Journal of Education for Business, 82(1), 9-11.



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21 April 2015

How to write critically

Have you ever been told that your writing is “too descriptive” or that you need to “show more analysis” or “adopt a more critical approach”? You may need to work on your critical thinking skills..... By Clinton Bell

‘Critical thinking’ does not mean being negative! In an academic context, being critical means that you don’t just accept things at face value. At school you might have focused on memorising the ‘right answer’, but at university there is more emphasis on being able to determine for yourself whether you should believe something and how certain you can be.

To do this, you need to go beyond just describing what other people have said, and start asking questions. There are a lot of questions you can ask, but let’s start with two big ones: “Why should I believe this?” and “What does that mean?”

Why should I believe a particular article?

It’s a sad fact that you can’t believe everything you read. This means two things for your writing:
  • you need to explain why your reader should believe you
  • you need to consider how credible your sources are.
As a student, the most common way to support what you say is to refer to evidence from other sources and making a logical argument based on that evidence. This leads directly into the second point: you need to choose your sources carefully, because the strength of your own argument depends on them!

If you’re not sure how to do this, check out the Evaluating sources section of the Library’s Academic research on the internet tutorial. Although it’s aimed at internet sources, it’s a useful guide in general.

What does that mean?

So you’ve got some high-quality sources. Great! But remember, we’re trying to make an argument based on evidence, not just provide a big list of information. That means we need to link our sources back to our topic and to each other. Again, asking questions is a great way to do this:

  • How does this information relate to the topic at hand?
  • What conclusions can we draw from it?
  • Are there any alternative explanations?
  • These two sources disagree. Why is that?
  • Should we believe one over the other – or perhaps they both have some merit? What are the implications of accepting one or the other?

Don’t be afraid to show original thought! If you just repeat what someone else has said, what do you accomplish? Why wouldn’t I just read the original source? Instead, you need to build on your sources and add value through analysis or critique or interpretation.

Further reading

If you’re still not sure where to start, there are several resources on the web that can help!
Do you know of any other useful resources? Let us know by commenting here or on Twitter @monashunilib.

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17 April 2015

Using the Library’s extensive Teaching Materials Collection

Ever wondered what to use and how to get the most out of your teaching placements?  Needing to structure your lessons in a particular way? The Library has a collection of teaching resources just for this Carlie Nekrasov

Large abacus from the Teaching Materials Collection
The Teaching Materials Collection is varied and can be used in any teaching setting, including early childhood, primary and secondary teaching rounds. It includes board books, musical instruments, DVDs, big books (over 40cm in height or width), junior and young adult fiction books and educational kits and toys.

How to locate teaching materials in Search

Teaching materials are called ‘curriculum materials’ in the Library’s online Search interface. For instance, to find ‘educational toys’ you simply type the words into the search box. You then need to apply the facets on the left hand side to narrow down your search to ‘curriculum materials’ (found under the ‘Special collection’ heading).

To physically locate your item, click on ‘Get it’ as this will show which library holds the item. You can even request an item if it is only held at another campus.

Which campuses have a Teaching Materials Collection?

The Teaching Materials Collection is found at three of our libraries - Berwick, Matheson and Peninsula. Peninsula’s collection is located on level 2 of the Library. Matheson currently has their collection located on the first floor. Berwick’s collection can be found off to the right of the information desk just before the general collection begins.

Do you have to be an Education student to access the materials?

Certainly not. The collection can be accessed by staff and students for personal use also. For example the collection contains a huge range of award-winning Australian picture books for children that can be borrowed for reading at home.

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15 April 2015

A closer look at "peer review"

Your lecturer asks you to reference only peer-reviewed articles for your assignment. What does this mean and how do you go about finding these types of articles?.... by Paula Todd

First understand what it means.
One definition of peer review states that it is “a process by which a scholarly work (such as a paper or a research proposal) is checked by a group of experts in the same field to make sure it meets the necessary standards before it is published or accepted”.

How "peer review" works.
After an article has been submitted to a publisher, the editor of the publication sends it to two or three reviewers (in other words ‘peers’ who are experts in the same field) who then provide feedback on the article. This may result in it being sent back to the authors for further revision before the process starts again, or the article is rejected. Once an article meets the editorial standards it is accepted for publication. See the University of Berkeley "Understanding Science" site for a flow chart and explanation of the peer review process.

Why does it matter?
The peer review process means that reviewed articles are considered more reliable as academic sources as they have been read and evaluated by experts in the field prior to publication. This ensures that the research reported in the article has been checked for any bias or errors. The integrity of the reported research means that this can inform other interested readers or researchers of new developments in the field and enhance or update the body of knowledge on a topic.

Types of peer review:
Blind – reviewers are anonymous
Double blind – both reviewer and author are anonymous
Open review – both reviewers and authors are known.
See also publisher site for definitions.

How to tell when something is peer reviewed.
Some Library databases  have an additional limit button for peer reviewed articles which may also be listed as academic or scholarly depending on the discipline. If you are not sure whether a journal has a peer review process, then the Library also has a database called Ulrichsweb: global serials directory.  Just put in the title of the journal you want to check and look for the refereed symbol (looks like a small graduation gown) in the third column.

Check your understanding of peer review by trying this Library tutorial.

Image: AJC under CC licence 2.0

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13 April 2015

How do I use Turnitin?

You’ve been asked to submit your assignment through Turnitin, but what does that mean? Read on to find out what it is and how Turnitin can help you to develop your academic writing skills… by Catherine Hocking.

What is Turnitin?
Contrary to popular opinion Turnitin is not Big Brother hovering over your shoulder waiting to pounce on you for plagiarism, but text-matching software linked to your Moodle unit. Turnitin’s text-matching capability can help you identify instances when your work is not as original as you thought it was. Turnitin will check your work against a database of materials such as books, journal articles, web pages and the work of other students and will provide you with a report on the originality of your writing.
Our Library guide will give you the nitty gritty on Turnitin and how it works.

So how does this help me improve my work?

Identifying where you may have a problem is a great place to start improving! Your Turnitin Originality Report will highlight matching or similar text which can help point out where you may have forgotten to properly cite another person’s ideas, if you are relying too much on quotations or if your paraphrasing is too similar to the original work. If you’re not sure how to increase your originality don’t sweat – we can help you with that!

Get the advice you need from the Library!
The Library is here to help you improve your academic writing skills and achieve
academic integrity. The Turnitin Library guide is a great place to start, with tips on how to increase your originality and links to a range of handy tutorials. If you’re on campus, drop in to the Library for some one-on-one help.

See the useful links below to get you started.


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1 April 2015

3 ways to survive a "library-less" Easter break

Getting anxious about your research or essay writing during the five days when the campus libraries are closed over Easter? Chill. You can plan ahead and get some serious work done. 

We know you like to be deep in study mode in the welcoming spaces of the Library, amidst the scent of books, the relative quiet, the convenience of free internet access and the expertise of staff on hand.

From 3-7 April, the whole University is closed. That means all campus services and facilities are also closed, not just the libraries.

If you really want to work rather than take a break, here are three ways to survive the five days of Easter shutdown:

1. Borrow items well ahead of the break

Why don't you do that today or tomorrow? If you request items at this time it would be too late so you are better off retrieving them yourself.

2. Go online!

While the campuses are closed, Monash’s IT systems remain fully operational on these closedown days so you will be able to access library resources online. Ebooks, databases, electronic journals, online tutorials, library guides, Lectures online – they’re available anytime and anywhere you have internet access.

3. If you need a physical study space, try the public libraries on Easter Tuesday

Easter Tuesday is a University holiday, unlike a number of the declared public holidays, including Labour Day, Queens Birthday and Cup Day. If you have nowhere else to study, the public libraries resume normal opening hours on Easter Tuesday so go for it.

Image: Benson Kua under CC licence 2.0

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About the Blog

Welcome to the Monash University Library blog. Whether you are engaged in learning, teaching or research activities, the Library and its range of programs, activities and resources will contribute to your success. Here you will find useful information, ideas, tips and inspiration. Your comments on any of the articles are welcome.

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