25 August 2015

Citing and referencing - essential for your assignment

It’s detailed, it’s time-consuming, and it can be confusing - but citing and referencing is part of every assignment here at Monash. Read on to discover some great resources which make citing and referencing easier to understand, and simpler to Romney Adams.

What is it, and why do it?

Citations refer to the brief attributions you make throughout the body of your assignment, while references contain more detail, and are situated at the end of your assignment. The Demystifying Citing & Referencing Tutorial explains the basic principles behind citing and referencing, and is great if you’re feeling a little unsure or confused.

It’s important to cite and reference your work, for a number of reasons. When done correctly, anyone reading your assignment (including the person marking it!) can see where you have used an expert’s research to support your own. As well as this, they should be able to locate the materials you used, enabling them to determine how widely you’ve read, and on what evidence you’ve based your work. Have a look at the Library’s Academic Integrity Modules - they contain examples of mistakes that can be easy to make when using  expert opinion to support your own work - such as remix and retweet plagiarism. The good news is the modules also show how these mistakes can be avoided.

Citing and referencing is usually worth between 5-10% of an assignment, so ensuring you’ve cited and referenced your work correctly can really give your grade a boost. Don’t forget, 10% is the difference between a D and HD...or an N and P.

Feeling confused?  Check out this short clip which will show you other areas to look out for.

Resources available

There are a number of citing and referencing styles, such as Harvard, APA, Chicago, and Turabian. Each style will have different rules to follow, which can get very frustrating. It’s impossible to learn even one style perfectly - not even your lecturer can probably manage it. Luckily, the Citing & Referencing Library Guide is your ultimate go-to guide for help.

This guide contains dedicated sections for each style used at Monash, and features detailed coverage of style rules, with examples for you to follow. If you use this guide, you really can’t go wrong. You can also check out the referencing section of some faculty-specific resources, such as the Faculty of Business and Economics’ Q Manual, and the Faculty of Information Technology’s Style Guide.

It’s best not to Google information about citing and referencing - styles are updated all the time (APA is now in its 6th edition), and some have been moderated slightly to better suit the institution (for example, Monash uses its own version of the Harvard style). Information you find on Google may be out-of-date or incorrect.

While citing and referencing can be challenging, it does need to be done - and with the Library’s help, you’ll have no trouble at all. You can  get help with citing and referencing from a librarian at your library’s Research & Learning point.

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18 August 2015

Academic resources

For most of your assignments at Monash, lecturers will ask you to use academic resources to conduct your research. But what exactly are academic resources? This post will give you some quick hints and tips to help you recognise strong academic resources, and know where to find Romney Adams.

Finding resources

The amount of information available for you to access is phenomenal, and can be found through a variety of different portals - some good, and some not so good. When looking for academic resources, start by searching through a reliable platform. This includes:
  • Library Search:  Search is the Library’s discovery platform, and is the best place to start your research. It will look for items held physically at the various campus libraries, as well as e-resources, including journal articles, e-books, conference papers, and more
  • Specialised databases: The Library subscribes to a multitude of specialised subject databases, which your lecturers will direct you to - some common databases include ProQuest, EBSCO, Scopus, and JSTOR. Like Search, their content come in a variety of formats, but are often faculty- or discipline-specific.
While a search engine, such as Google, or online encyclopedia, such as Wikipedia, can be useful for obtaining background or explanatory information regarding your assignment topic, they are not good to use for research purposes. Check out the Library’s interactive guide to conducting academic research on the Internet, to ensure you’re using quality online sources as part of your research.

Evaluating resources

It's important to remember that just because a resource is held in Search, or a specialised database automatically makes it an academic resource. It is up to you to evaluate a resource you find, to determine whether it can be considered a good academic article. Some things to look out for are: the length of the resource, its publisher, and the authors’ affiliations and qualifications.

The following video will show you other areas to look out for when evaluating a resource:

Evaluating resources can be tricky, especially if it’s not something you’re used to. If you need any help searching for resources or evaluating them, speak to a librarian at your library’s Research & Learning point.

Good luck! By following these tips, you should be off to a great start with your research.

Squirrel image:Robert Taylor Red Squirrel_7674 CC

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13 August 2015

Creating a search strategy

Planning a strategy before you actually start the task of searching for articles relevant to your assignment can be a good idea.... By Penny Presta.

Making plans before you go on holiday makes for a smooth trip (and is part of the fun). Planning before you start searching for your assignment is smart too. It can increase the relevance of search results and save you time (leaving more time for fun)! In the Library we call it ‘creating a search strategy’.

What is a search strategy?

A search strategy offers a systematic approach to searching for information. It involves following a few key steps to finding what you need. The good news is these steps are pretty much the same regardless of which assignment you are doing.

Identifying the key concepts

An essential part of starting your search is identifying the best subject terms and keywords. Start brainstorming keywords, followed by compiling a list of synonyms and related terms so that you know you have your topic covered.

Starting out with a broad search

Developing a search strategy is an evolving process. Generally you will start with a broad strategy and look at your initial search results, adjusting your terms as you go along. Your results can be refined by adding parameters to limit the search (such as articles published in the last 10 years or information types such as books and journal articles). 

As you progress in your search for academic materials you will begin to notice alternative subject terms and keywords in article abstracts and start using these for a different set of results.

Look through the Library’s interactive online module for the whole story.

Why bother?

Scholarly sources of information such as library databases don’t like sentences. They perform best with keyword combinations which will be the result of an effective search strategy. So if you’ve ever been overwhelmed by how to find the materials you need, maybe it’s time you adopted this systematic approach.

For assistance creating and refining search strategies, attend a drop-in at your branch’s Research & Learning point. Honours students, postgraduates and academic staff may make a one-on-one appointment with their subject librarian.

Image: CC licence Richard Lee

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11 August 2015

How to manage your time

Some things remain a challenge no matter how organised you are. In case you're new to Monash or missed it the first time, check out this blog post on managing your time throughout the semester... by Damian Gleeson, Learning Skills Adviser.

Managing your time used to be easy when you were at school. There were rules about where you had to be, what you had to do, and when you had to do it. University is not like that. You are free to take the approach that best suits you!

We all get caught out sometimes, but being organised with a long-term and a short-term plan for the semester can help you to avoid those long, sleepless nights madly typing up the two essays that are due on the same date in week 6 or week 11.

In the video below, see tips, advice and suggested strategies for organising your time and your life. The better you can do this, the more successful you are likely to be.  Get your Google calendar (for example) organised now! You'll be grateful for it when the pressure is on.

There are further time-saving suggestions in the Library's Quick Study Guides. Or check out these helpful study strategies, and grab a few pointers on the transition from research to writing.

Check out the video:

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10 August 2015

Matheson Library works kick off

Construction work in the Sir Louis Matheson Library on the Clayton campus will start this week. Read on to know what's happening during the first stage.

Proposed Matheson Library foyer
The builders will be on site beginning this week to start construction in the library. The works will be done in three stages, completing a section of the library before proceeding to the next. This will allow the library to remain open and for most of the study spaces to continue to be available to students.

Stage 1 works will affect the areas currently clear of furniture on the ground level and level one, including the old annex area (see floor plan). This stage is due to be completed by mid-November.

Throughout the refurbishment the library will be a shared zone. This means that stairs, lifts and corridors will be used by students, staff and contractors.

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 in the Campus Centre.
  • The Monash Sport cafe area- Monash Sport is open until 10pm.

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6 August 2015

We hear you

Thanks to the Monash students who took part in the Library user survey last May. We value your feedback as it allows us to identify the areas to prioritise in the coming years.

You have told us what is important to you and how the Library is performing in these areas. You have also reinforced where you think we most need to improve.

The areas with significant gap scores have to do with facilities and equipment (see the infographic below).

What are we going to do?

1. We will complete the refurbishment of the Matheson and Caulfield Libraries.

By the end of 2016 the two libraries will have modern, engaging and stimulating study spaces for quiet and group work. 

Matheson Library will have a 25% increase in seating from 1419 to 1707 seats, from 7 to 23 bookable discussion rooms fitted with technology and from 3 to 4 state-of-the-art teaching rooms.

Caulfield Library will double its current seating from 750 to 1500 seats, from 2 to 7 bookable discussion rooms plus numerous technology rich group study areas, and from 2 to 4 state-of-the-art teaching rooms.

All the teaching rooms will be available for student use when not being used for teaching.

2. We will continue to work with eSolutions to improve printing.

By enabling wireless printing, students will be able to print from their laptop or device. This will lessen students' need to use a PC. As indicated in students' comments, waiting for an available computer is frustrating when all they need to do is print a document or lecture slides.

An annual survey conducted by Monash eSolutions among commencing students indicates that laptop and device ownership among students has been on a steady rise.

What else did we learn?

For the first time the Library survey asked students for their best estimate of their academic results. The data was analysed to explore any correlation between their use of the Library and their academic results. 
  • 78.8% of respondents who come in to the library daily or 2-4 days a week achieved at least a Distinction.
  • 70.3% of all respondents who access the library online daily or 2-4 days a week achieved at least a Distinction.
The results indicate a strong correlation, which will be considered again in future Library user surveys.

More information about the Library survey results is available on the website.

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5 August 2015

SPIE Digital Library

In this article by Nhan Le, we look at an extensive resource on optics and photonics. Monash researchers working on light and light-based technologies have access to this resource.

2015 is the International Year of Light and Light-based Technology. The world has enjoyed the benefits of light and light-based technologies through photography, medical imaging and radiology, and much more.

Technology has not stopped there. Clean energy, lightning-fast communication, and sustainable manufacturing are among many others which are the future of light-based technologies. [i]

Monash researchers can continue to explore and make use of an extensive resource available on optics and photonics through SPIE Digital Library. This resource is provided by one of the most prestigious societies that focuses on light, optical and photonic technologies.

The Society for Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) is an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light. SPIE was founded in 1955.

SPIE plays a vital role in researchers’ scientific endeavours. Through the Library's subscription to SPIE Digital Library Monash researchers have access to more than 230,000 technical papers from SPIE journals and conference proceedings from 1990 to present. Researchers can also look forward to more than 17,000 new research papers added annually.

Journals: SPIE Journals publish peer-reviewed articles on optical engineering, electronic imaging, biomedical optics, microlithography, remote sensing, and nanophotonics.

Conference Proceedings: The innovations in research and technology are captured in Conference Proceedings of SPIE. These original research papers presented at SPIE conferences are among the most cited references in patent literature and are available two to four weeks after each event.

Monash users can search across the two platforms using the basic Search, or Advanced Search, or separately. For example, on the Journals tab, you can view individual titles through Current Issue or All Issues, or on the Proceedings tab, you can browse by Conference, by Year, by Volume No., or by Volume Title.

Featured Video is displayed on the SPIE home page. For example: Watch the video "Kathryn Flanagan: Hubble and JWST inspire the scientist in everyone" and read an article on Space Telescopes co-authored by Kathryn Flanagan  (as of August 5th, 2015).

You can access all the scholarly material on SPIE Digital Library through the Library-managed subscription.

[i] Celebrating light: 50 ways light-based technologies enrich our world, 2015, SPIE Press, pp. 118-119.

Nhan Le is a subject librarian for Engineering and Science in the Hargrave-Andrew Library.

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4 August 2015

Reading Lists – your key to preparing for a lecture

Your lecturer has asked you to do a whole lot of reading before your lecture, but how do you find those articles or books? Introducing your library reading list… By Catherine Hocking

Luckily, the job of searching for these readings has already been done for you, to produce your Library reading list.

Your reading list is compiled by your lecturer and can provide a great place to start when beginning a new unit. Over the course of a unit you may be asked to refer to articles, textbooks and other materials. For most units the Library has put all these materials together for your convenience so you can get reading now!

Your Library reading list will link you to:

  • ebook versions or electronic journal articles wherever available,
  • scanned copies of articles and book chapters,
  • recommended websites, or
  • the Library catalogue record for books, allowing you to see immediately whether a copy is available.
Scanned materials are available as PDF files, allowing you to search for keywords in the text, highlight sections and add notes. Watch the video below for tips for managing your reading material.

Your lecturer may have integrated the reading list into the relevant sections of your unit’s Moodle site. If not, there are a number of other ways you can access your reading lists – from the quick links on the Library homepage, by entering your unit code into the Library’s Search or by going straight to

Once you have found the reading you need, simply click the title to see Library availability for books or a web address to link you to the full text chapter or article.

What are you waiting for? Get reading.

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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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