29 July 2015

Places to study on the Clayton and Caulfield campuses

The refurbishment of the Sir Louis Matheson Library and Caulfield Library are underway and will be completed by the end of 2016. Both libraries will remain open throughout, although some sections will be closed as construction progresses. 

The airport lounge at the Campus Centre at Clayton
At the Matheson Library, staff have temporarily redeployed furniture to other areas of the library to minimise the reduction in seating. Additional seating is now available on the ground level around the Research and Learning point, on Level 1 in the former Document Delivery area, on Level 5 General Collection and Level 2 Journal Collection. 

The Hargrave-Andrew Library and Law Library on the Clayton campus have additional seating available for students seeking a quiet spot to study over the refurbishment period.

Alternative study spaces have also been made available:
  • The airport lounge on Level 1 of the Campus Centre -- From 10 August, the Campus Centre will be open until midnight Monday-Friday.
  • The new IT Lab (Base Lab) in the Campus Centre will be open throughout semester.
  • The Monash Sport cafĂ© area -- Monash Sport is open until 10pm.

Watch the video for more information on places to study on the Clayton campus.

At Caulfield Library, the heavy demolition as part of Stage 1 of the refurbishment finished last week, and lighter demolition and other works will occur for the next several weeks.

External pedestrian paths have changed for which wayfinding signage is in place. Disability access to the library is via the lift in Building B and across the Level 2 walkway. 

The student kitchen on Level 2 will close this weekend due to the refurbishment, and a new one will open in room B228 on Monday 10 August. Please note that you can also heat your food in the student kitchens in the S2 student lounge and in room T125A.

Alternative study spaces on the Caulfield campus are being considered and will be announced shortly.

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27 July 2015

How to stay the course

Our Monash student contributor Sara Nyhuis shares her honest views about uni life and some tips on how to find the balance, stay motivated and keep the end in sight. It's a good read for returning students at the start of a new semester.

There’s a very strong sense of complete and utter panic upon opening Allocate to check your results when they are released. If any of you do what I do and check your results by looking through your fingers, then you’ll know that finding out how you did in each of your units is one of the most daunting things about university.
There are lots of university memes out there, likening it to riding a bicycle (in hell) or the ‘due tomorrow do tomorrow’ routine - but I’ve always imagined it like a rollercoaster. The ride up is very long and very slow, but reaching the top provides the biggest breath of fresh air you could hope for, and the most amazing view. Of course, it sends you back down again and you’ll probably want to let go - because, well, it’s a rollercoaster. You take the highs with the lows, you keep up your ‘This semester is going to be different!’  mantra every time you start climbing again (fight the week 4 lull, fight it!), and try not to panic on the way back down.
My point is - it’s hard, it’s slow, and it’s long. Sometimes you have no idea what made you get in the damn cart in the first place and you have no idea where you’re going - and then other times it’s the most exhilarating and rewarding experience you could ever have. But it’s hard to find the balance between the two, and to keep sight of the end.
Set yourself some goals

One of the most effective ways to get through the grind of daily uni life is to set yourself smaller goals when the end of the line seems too far away to be realistic. ‘Baby steps’ is probably one of my most used phrases throughout semester; in a good week I congratulate myself on finishing an assignment early; in a not so good week I’ll probably congratulate myself on just turning up to class.

Regardless of how big or small your goal is, giving yourself something to work towards keeps up the sense of achievement to motivate you to get to the next goal.

If setting goals seems a little arbitrary to you, try scouting around for some volunteering opportunities to keep you motivated. Be an O Week tour guide, a student mentor, take a PASS program, even just sign up to a weekly online magazine related to your studies to keep you in the know and keep your brain active and interested.

Find the balance

If you’re like me and manage bizarre hours between work shifts and socialising, you’ll understand how difficult it is to fit time in for study or for yourself. I can’t stop you from procrastibaking, watching Netflix until it makes sassy remarks about your social life, or from napping in lieu of studying - but I can advise you that if you maintain a healthy social life, studying becomes much easier (and Netflix won’t judge you). By allowing yourself one or two nights a week to let go and forget about whichever essay you’re writing, you burn out a lot of restless energy that usually leads to dedicated procrastination. It also makes you more relaxed at work, because you know that you’re actually productive in your study time.

The balance is hard and it can take a while to figure it out, but you get better at it (trust me) and it honestly pays off.

Also, you can totally put time management skills on your resume afterwards.

Keep it up

One of the hardest things to do as the semester wears on is keep up with your studies. I don’t just mean assignments here either, but also keeping up to date with your reading list and your lectures. If you’re anything like me you struggle to pay attention to lectures by about week 4 - and that’s where setting yourself goals comes in handy. I usually dedicate one day to catching up on whatever lectures I’ve missed, and then reward myself with the rest of the day to do whatever I please - and 60% of the time, it works every time.

If you have any advice of your own, any thoughts on techniques or questions about staying motivated, share them in the comments below and help your fellow students out. In saying all that, I wish you luck. Keep up the mantra, set yourself some goals and keep holding on til the end of the ride, guys.

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20 July 2015

Get to know the Library

Everyone in second year and above likes to think they have a map of campus in their heads and know everything there is to know - but the truth is, we were all Just Another First Year at one point as well, and we are definitely still learning. There were things I didn’t know (everything), things I wish I knew (everything), and things I definitely needed to know (... everything). Luckily I had help, and can pass that knowledge on to you new and future Sara Nyhuis

Unfortunately I can’t provide you with an in-depth guide of where to and not to eat, the best spots to nap, that one carpark that’s always free or the answers to all your tests. I can, however, provide you with information that is just as valuable as all that.

The library how-to guide.

Shake off any notions of the library being ‘uncool’, because you are about to find yourself there far more than you realise. When you’re at university, the library is exactly where you want to be - it has all the answers to all your questions (except the answers to tests), quiet places to escape the manic bustle of the first few weeks of semester (be prepared to fight for it), and honestly - it’s actually super valuable.

Which library is where?

All the libraries are different on each campus, with the smaller campuses like Berwick, Peninsula and Pharmacy having smaller libraries mostly focusing on nursing and teaching or pharmaceuticals. Clayton has three (because the more the merrier), and each one specialises - there is the Law library (pretty self-explanatory), Hargrave Andrew Library (science, technology, engineering, medicine), and Matheson Library (arts and humanities). Caulfield library is the busiest during exams, so you have to get in early to grab a seat before the rest of the vultures flock to it, but it has a large focus on art theory and literature books. 

Get to know your library

I strongly suggest doing a library tour during O Week. I was lucky enough to already be familiar with the Matheson Library when I started at Monash, but the amount of friends I still have in my final year that don’t know how to borrow books is astonishing. An O Week tour will tell you all the basic things you need to know such as opening hours for that library; where the group, quiet and private study spaces are; how to find books; how to borrow them; how to print (which is so confusing and so very, very important) and where to find your friendly library staff to ask any further questions you might have. The tours are usually run by current student volunteers who understand the library in a way that the staff behind the desk don’t, because for students it is as much a social space as it is a place for study.

Your online library

You don’t have to be physically in the library to use it to its full potential either, with most of the study resources accessible online. The most important aspect of the online library that I seriously encourage you all to get familiar with is the library guides. They’re currently working on creating a guide for each unit, and when they’re all up these things are going to be your saving grace come survival week. I’m talking cloud-parting, ray of sunshine, angels singing type of thing. Right now these guides have reading lists, related databases, external websites, your go-to subject librarian, information on assignments and referencing guidelines.
See? Angels singing. 

Make the most of it

While you’re doing the tour, you might as well do a class, too. You can access the class booking system through the library homepage to see which classes are being run and when. If you only take one library class in all your years at uni, take the Search class. This class will teach you how to use Search to navigate the labyrinth that is the library catalogue for books, journals, and multimedia specifically related to what you’re researching. I recommend it because while Google seems like the fountain of knowledge for all your questions, but when it comes to researching academic sources, it’s definitely not credible.

So now that you’re a library master…

Talking about your own experience can be really helpful to others who are unsure of how to tackle O Week and their first week of university. We encourage you to get involved and discuss if and how you used the library when you first started, and how you use it now. 

Sara Nyhuis is a Monash student who works as part-time casual staff in the Library.

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Welcome to a super new semester!

Orientation Week for Semester 2 runs from 20 to 24 July,  and is an important time to prepare for your studies, explore your campus and the services available, and make new Melissa McKenna.

Congratulations and welcome to all of our new students joining us for the first time this semester!  Be sure to engage with the Library to make the most of your learning and research experience at Monash. Throughout Orientation we provide tours, tips on how to get started at University, and training on how to search electronic databases for researching a topic. This will save you time in the future when you have assignment deadlines. Be sure to check out the Orientation ePlanner for Session information.

Psst! - Did you know research shows that students who use the library achieve better results than those who don't?  You will find that the library is a very popular place on campus for both individual and group study.  Some of our libraries even have bookable meeting rooms available, and can be reserved online.  For those students not on campus, we haven't forgotten about you - there are plenty of resources and services to support your study and research needs.

Here are some other super handy tips for new students:
  • The Library website is your access point for information resources. Using the Search function will open up a world of information beyond Google.
  • Visit the Students’ page for a quick guide to your Library resources.
  • As well as working with you in your courses and units, Library staff provide a range of programs and drop-in sessions associated with your assignments and other tasks.
  • Keep up to date with the Caulfield and Matheson Library refurbishments. Visit the website for more information and view the fantastic images. 
We understand that it can get a little overwhelming at times for new students, so we're happy to answer questions and receive feedback on your experiences. You may contact us via the comments box below or via  You can also engage with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Happy O Week, everyone!

Image  rpavich, under CC 2.0 licence.

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14 July 2015


How much time do you spend checking your references for the correct style? If you don’t want to lose marks for incorrect referencing then your answer would be a lot of time and it’s tedious, but you have to do it. Right? ...By Paula Todd.

Image courtesy Pixabay
What if we told you there was an easier and quicker way?

Monash has the license for EndNote so all students have free access to the full version which is downloadable from the Library website.   By learning how to use this software you can save a lot of valuable time but the key is to understand the referencing style listed in your unit guide or on Moodle, THEN use the software.  A bit like the theory of using a calculator to solve a mathematical problem, you need to understand the formula before applying it.

OK so you know your referencing style, how is EndNote going to help you? If you use databases or Library Search, then you can export the details of the article or book into your EndNote library in your chosen referencing style.  But this isn’t the end of the story, you can then use the ‘cite while you write’ function in EndNote to put your in-text citations into your essay or report and at the same time EndNote will automatically start creating your reference list at the end of your paper.  No more typing references.

How do you start?

It’s best to book into a class (Monash login required) to get started as the librarians will give you lots of tips and tricks to make EndNote run smoothly.  Once your EndNote library is set up then most databases will have an export function to add references straight into your library. 

You can also attach the full text PDF’s of articles to your EndNote library as well which can save time when you are writing your assignment as both the article and its citation are in the same place.  With EndNote you can also highlight and annotate PDF’s which makes relevant parts of the article easy to spot when typing your assignment and you want to check what has been written.

EndNote software in use

Another really cool feature is the Group option so that references for a particular purpose can be arranged together which is useful as your EndNote library gets bigger and you want to easily see which references go with each assignment or project.

EndNote software in use

If the idea of having your EndNote library in the cloud to access anywhere appeals to you then check out EndNote Online. You can also use this version of EndNote to share references in your library with friends or for use in group assignments.  More on this type of sharing in a later blog.

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2 July 2015

Have you read any Systematic Reviews lately?

We all want to inform our decision making with evidence, but filtering out the pseudoscience can be quite a feat. Especially since it is so often easily digestible and fits nicely with an existing point of view. What we need is something that will synthesise the evidence for us... By Penny Presta.

The reporting of scientific advancements is spread out across a range of publications and platforms, some of which are not freely available. In addition, the amount of research published continues to rise and there may be significant differences in the quality of evidence due to poor study design, inherent biases or other limitations.

Systematic reviews
Systematic reviews were devised in 1979 by Archie Cochrane  in an attempt to overcome such challenges by providing ‘critical summaries’ for the medical profession [1]. A systematic review implements a standardised approach to gathering evidence relating to a specific research question from an exhaustive set of studies, and to analysing the data in context to assess the strength of the evidence. The quality of systematic reviews varies, although Cochrane Reviews use rigorous scientific methods and are sometimes considered to be the ‘gold standard’. Standards have also been set by PRISMA and the Institute of Medicine.

The Australian Government funds free public access to the Cochrane Library through a national subscription. This gives Australians a unique level of access to quality evidence to inform their healthcare choices [2].

Prior to undertaking a systematic review a ‘protocol’ is published outlining in detail the planned methods that will be used. By searching existing protocols you can ascertain that no-one is currently doing the research you wish to do and that a new review is required. Further, by stating your aims and study design in your protocol, you are reducing the risk of bias that may arise if you were to formulate the inclusion criteria for studies after seeing the results.

Anatomy of a systematic review
  • A clear clinical question is formulated
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria are explicitly defined
  • A structured search strategy is developed and an extensive search for studies is conducted
  • Studies are selected based on pre-defined criteria
  • Quality of primary studies is assessed based on pre-defined criteria
  • Extraction of relevant data
  • Synthesis of data (possible meta-analysis)
  • Findings are reported/disseminated

Systematic reviews have some unique features that make them differ from standard literature reviews. Below are some requirements of Cochrane systematic reviews.
  • Must be updated every two years or include an explanation as to why this hasn’t happened.
  • Should have more than one author. This is effective in reducing potential author bias in selection of studies and data extraction, and to help detect any errors.
  • Can be replicated (and therefore verified) due to the comprehensive documentation of the search and selection methodologies used.
  • Poor quality studies are eliminated (via pre-defined exclusion criteria) even when there are few other studies available. This can provide clarity in areas previously thought to show opposing conclusions.
  • Where possible, an international perspective is taken and results considered in a broad context.
For more information see the Cochrane Handbook.

Meta Analyses
A meta-analysis is a statistical technique that combines the findings of relevant studies and analyses the resulting data set. Some systematic reviews will include a meta-analysis when assessing the effectiveness of a healthcare intervention.

Using Systematic Reviews
As a student you may be asked to use primary research articles to answer your research question. A systematic review is a secondary source so would not suit this purpose. However, if you find a relevant systematic review, looking at the reference list will give you a ready-made list of primary research articles on the topic! And of course, you may also use systematic reviews to guide your own health care decisions.

Systematic reviews can be found in the Cochrane Library, as well as in databases such as EBM ReviewsPLoS and the Campbell Collaboration. For assistance finding or conducting your own Systematic Reviews contact your subject librarian.

  1. Cochrane, A. L. (1979). 1931-1971: A critical review, with particular reference to the medical profession. In G. Teeling-Smith & N. Wells (Eds.). Medicines for the year 2000 (pp. 1-11). London: Office of Health Economics.
  2. Department of Health. (2014). National access. Retrieved from

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1 July 2015

New digital exhibition opens at Hargrave-Andrew Library

A new digital exhibition tells a powerful visual story of plants created through computer code. It's another outstanding fusion of science and art. 

The Hargrave-Andrew Library at the Clayton campus is proud to display the work of Faculty of IT's Professor Jon McCormack. Fifty Sisters, a series of 50 evolved digital plant images, algorithmically “grown” from computer code, opens on Thursday 2 July 2015 at 12.30pm.

The title of the work refers to the original “Seven Sisters” – a cartel of seven oil companies that dominated the global petrochemical industry and Middle East oil production from the mid-1940s until the oil crisis of the 1970s. 

The work was originally commissioned for the Ars Electronica museum in Linz, Austria.

Professor McCormack explained that in this version of Fifty Sisters, each image is presented in different forms for an entire day, the rate of change dependent on fluctuations of the stock market price of the oil company whose logos were used to generate the image.

"Oil has shaped our civilisation and driven its unprecedented growth over the last century. We have been seduced by oil and its bi-products as they are now used across almost every aspect of human endeavour, providing fuels, fertilisers, feedstocks, plastics, medicines and more."

"But oil has also changed the environment, evident from the petrochemical haze that hangs over many a modern metropolis, the environmental damage of major oil spills, and the looming spectre of global climate change. With worldwide demand for oil now at 93 million barrels per day, humanity’s appetite for oil is unrelenting. Oil companies regularly report many of the all-time largest annual earnings in corporate history."

All are welcome to hear Professor McCormack talk about his art and research. Refreshments will be served after the talk.  

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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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