31 May 2016

Why the ‘renew all’ button is gone

Changes to the way books and other items are  renewed are discussed in this blog article.

You may have noticed that there is no longer a ‘renew all’ button when looking at your loans in Search.

The ‘renew all’ button is no longer needed, as items are automatically renewed by the Library before they are due, except for items in high demand or those requested by other users.

If you want to know when to return your loans, check your email for Library notices. We’ll send you a courtesy notice when your loans can’t be renewed again.

Automatic renewals have been introduced by the Library to stop students and staff getting unnecessary fines because they forgot to renew their loans.

For undergraduate students, regular loans are renewed every two weeks for a maximum of 14 weeks, unless someone else requests the item or you get a fine or an overdue loan on another item. If this happens, you will be notified by email that you need to return the item by a given due date.

To keep track of when your loans are due, go to Library Search and select 'Sign in' to access your details and check the due dates.

Once you are advised to return an item, you need to return it as soon as possible, as it will attract a fine once it is overdue.

Automatic renewals apply to all library users including academics, postgraduate students and external Library users. Further information about loan periods for all users is available online.

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30 May 2016

Strategies for exam-day success

There’s an art to sitting exams. Knowing the material is important, but you also need to use the right strategy, says Clinton Bell.

In the run up to exams, you might have thought a lot about the best way to revise. But what about the best approach to use in the exam? There’s a certain skill to taking exams, and taking the right approach on exam day can really help your mark.

There are three main aspects to exam day success: making sure you understand what’s being asked, managing your time, and staying calm under pressure.

Understanding the question

Read the exam instructions thoroughly during reading time. At high school, I knew someone who rushed through the instructions because he was nervous, and missed the part that said “Choose one (1) out of the following topics”. He ended up trying to write three essays instead of one!

You should also read each question carefully and make sure you address exactly what was asked. Pay close attention to direction words like “describe” and “compare”, as well as any other instructions. If you don’t do quite what you were asked, or you only address part of the question, you won’t get full marks.

For more complex questions, you may find it helpful to make a list of the key information before writing your answer. For example, for a question about a medical case study you might note the patient’s symptoms, age, gender, and so on. This helps you keep track of all the relevant information without having to read the entire question again.

Time management

Even if you know the material really well, finishing an exam within the time limit can be challenging, so it’s important to manage your time carefully. Spend time on each question based on how many marks it’s worth - you don’t want to spend 50% of your time on a question that’s only worth 5% of the total mark! On most exams you don’t have to answer the questions in order, so just move on if you get stuck. You can try again later if you get time.

It’s also a good idea to start with the questions you know you can answer. That way if you run out of time, at least you’ll get good marks for the questions you did complete.

Working under pressure

It’s normal to be a little stressed during exams, but if you’re too anxious it can be hard to think. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take a moment to focus. Concentrate on breathing slowly and evenly.

Once you’ve taken a few deep breaths, work through the questions methodically. Read each question carefully, identify the important information, and think about how you can apply that information. Don’t panic if you don’t know the answer to a question right away - just keep working through the process.

You can also reduce your stress on exam day by looking after practical things. Make sure you know how to get to the exam venue, and plan to arrive early in case you’re delayed. Set any equipment you need out the night before so you don’t forget them. Finally, don’t go overboard with caffeine on the morning of the exam. One cup of coffee is fine, but it can give you the jitters if you have too much.

Have a healthy and successful exam period, and best of luck on your exams!

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26 May 2016

Exam study tips from an expert

We'll have learning skills advisers available online via the Library's Facebook page to provide expert advice, tips and answers to your exam study-related questions. It's available, so why not take advantage of the opportunity?

It may be your first time to sit final exams in university. You have your lecture and unit revision notes but feel that you could use some help to clarify or just confirm what you think you know about exam preparation.

Visit the Library's Facebook page during Swot Vac when a learning skills adviser is available online to work with you on:

  • studying for exams
  • strategies for exams
  • types of questions and more.

From Monday 30 May to Friday 3 June, 2pm until 5pm, we invite Monash students to post their exam study-related questions on the Library's Facebook timeline rather than via the inbox. This way, the answers to questions, advice and tips can benefit more students.

If you've been to a Library research and learning drop-in session in person before, then you'll know how useful it is to get an expert's advice. We're just making the opportunity available to more students by taking it to the virtual space.

Like us on Facebook and ask us your questions.

Face-to-face drop-in sessions are offered at advertised times in some libraries during Swot Vac.

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19 May 2016

Coping with stress at university

Struggling with the pressures of uni life? Feeling worn out? Find out where to get help and how to look after yourself, says Clinton Bell.

Going to university can be fun, but it can also be difficult at times. There are a lot of demands on your time, particularly as end-of-semester exams and other assessments approach. You may also face challenges like financial difficulties, living away from home for the first time, or even living in a new country! It’s understandable if you sometimes feel overwhelmed.

The most important thing to know is that you can get help if you need to. Of course you can always turn to your family and friends, but Monash also offers a range of student support services. These include free counselling sessions and specialist services for Indigenous students, international students, people with disabilities, and LGBTIQ students. In an emergency, there are also 24-hour mental health hotlines available.

It’s also important to look after yourself. Make sure you eat properly, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and spend some time outdoors, and you’ll feel a lot better. If you feel like you can’t pass or get a good mark without giving up those things to make more time for study, it may be a sign that you’re not studying effectively. Get some advice from our helpful Library staff, try some of our online guides and tutorials, or speak to your tutor or lecturer.

Another thing that can help is keeping a schedule and planning time for study, breaks and other activities in advance. Having a plan can make it feel like things are more under control, and having all your tasks and important dates in one place means you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. Setting time aside for leisure and social activities in advance can also prevent you feeling guilty for taking time away from study.

Meditation, mindfulness and relaxation techniques can also help you cope. There are some resources for mindfulness and mental health on the Monash student support website, and you can find more in the library using Search. It’s not just books, either - we also have CDs, DVDs, and online video and audio streaming (after you search, try selecting “Audio-visual” under “Resource type” on the left). Monash has also produced a free online mindfulness course in partnership with FutureLearn which starts this week!

Finally, if you drink a lot of coffee or energy drinks, you may want to reduce your intake. A moderate amount of caffeine is fine, but too much can cause anxiety, headaches and nausea. The Victorian government suggests keeping caffeine intake below 400mg a day for an average adult, which is about four cups of coffee or four 250ml cans of energy drink (check the label - some brands have more caffeine than others).

Good luck on your assessments and remember - help is available if you need it.

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17 May 2016

Getting ready for exams

With the end of the semester just around the corner, now is the time to focus on your preparation for exams (if you haven’t already!). Here are some tips to help you make the most of your study time and feel more confident heading into exams, says Learning Skills Adviser, Emma Price.

Managing your time 

‘Night before’ cramming rarely delivers good results on the day. Start by planning your schedule with specific days and times to revise your units. Use a weekly planner on paper or an app to mark out your classes and other commitments, then assign times around these when you will study. Try to get a good spread across the week and make this a regular part of your planning. Each study session should have a clear goal of what unit and topic will be revised. You may also find it useful to spend a small amount of time initially getting all of your unit materials organised so it is easier to use them for revision (more tips on different styles below). 

One of your biggest enemies in exam preparation is procrastination. By setting goals within your week you can more easily accomplish your revision rather than having a vague sense of revising all of your units. Be wary of time-eating technology too. TV, social media, smartphones and other devices may all seem much more attractive than study. Even cleaning your bathroom might have more appeal! But make sure to stay on target. Switch off any devices during your study times to avoid distraction and then use them as short rewards for when you have completed your study sessions. Prioritise your other commitments around your study too - if your bathroom really is in dire need of a clean, it can still wait till you’ve spent some time on revision!

Mix it up

Aim to be active in your revision approach. This means doing more than just reading over your notes or textbook. A good approach is creating your own topic summaries from your lectures, notes and readings. This way you synthesise and compile each topic into its main points and examples for a more effective study resource, and the very process of creating a summary is helping you understand and remember the topic.

There are a range of different study styles you can use to be more effective in your study time and to help you remember information. Everyone has their own learning style preference so work to your strengths. Do you prefer hearing information, talking about it, or a more hands-on practical approach? Perhaps you are a more visual learner and prefer diagrams and mindmaps? Use any or all of these styles to help create useful revision materials, such as:

  • Posters of main topic information - either note form or diagram. Post them up where you will see them often (next to the bathroom mirror, over your desk, etc.) Go over them regularly and then test yourself.
  • Record yourself talking about a topic on your smartphone and then listen back to it on the train or walking.
  • Use mnemonics as a memory aid to associate important information with particular cues. You can use songs, images or names. For example, for order of taxonomy: Kids Prefer Cheese Over Fried Green Spinach (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species)
  • Form a study group. Talking through unit topics with your peers can be a great way to expand your knowledge, work through trickier ideas together, and revise what you already know. The very process of discussing with others is another way to help your brain retain information, as well as giving you some friendly support during the exam period. 

Test yourself often. As well as any sample exam questions provided by your unit, you can also create your own tests by turning your unit topics into questions. For example, in a business management topic on effective practice, change the topic heading into a question: what are three effective management practices and how are they implemented? You might want to try simulating exam conditions by getting rid of all distractions, putting away your notes and assigning a set amount of time to answer some questions on your topics.

Look after yourself 

As exams get nearer it’s natural to feel a bit stressed and obsessed with revision. But you need to stay balanced in order to get to the finish line. Some stress is ok as it can keep you motivated and focused but too much or poorly managed stress can have negative effects. If you feel over-stressed or anxious in your exam preparation then you might want to reflect on your study approach and perhaps seek out some help from counselling.

Make sure to eat well and get enough sleep. Too much junk food and caffeine or all night cramming could impact your ability to study effectively through too much fatigue or adrenaline.

Your brain can’t handle study all the time so be sure to give it some breaks for rest. This could be five minutes or so at end of each hour of study to make a snack, get some fresh air or do some stretches. Regular walking or jogging, or something like a weekly gym session or yoga class can provide an important break from your revision and can help regulate any exam stress. And remember to schedule a bit of time with family and friends where you (and your brain) can relax.

Above all, remember that effective study is about how much you learn, not how much time you spend hunched over your desk. So keep these tips in mind, and good luck!

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16 May 2016

Hargrave-Andrew Library – extended hours and bus

Get more study done, with late night opening at the Hargrave-Andrew Library.

From Monday 30 May 2016, until the end of the exam period, the Hargrave-Andrew Library. will offer extended exam study time.

This will be a good location for you to meet with your friends for a quiet group study session or for an intensive effort on your own.

During this four-week period:

  • The Hargrave-Andrew Library will be open from 8am until 2am Monday to Thursday inclusive.
  • There will be security and a security bus in operation until 2am on the days the library is operating on extended hours.
  • Fridays and weekends will operate on normal hours.
The extended hours will finish on Thursday 23 June.

Check the opening hours for all libraries. Because it is undergoing refurbishment, the Sir Louis Matheson Library will close at 9pm throughout semester one and the exam period.

Study spaces are available elsewhere on Clayton campus this year, including in the Menzies building, the Campus centre and Monash residential halls – Find out more.

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12 May 2016

Quiet study spaces at Clayton

To help you find a space that works for your study style, we’ve compiled a list of available alternative work areas at Clayton. 

As we approach the end of semester one and the beginning of the Swot Vac and exam period, we understand there is an increased need for quiet study spaces on campus. 

While our Sir Louis Matheson Library on the Clayton campus offers a range of study spaces to suit different work preferences, we appreciate that current refurbishment works and increased demand during this period can make finding a study space more difficult. 

We've made extra seating available at the Law and Hargrave-Andrew libraries. The two libraries will be open from 10am to 5pm on weekends from 21 May until 19 June.

In addition, Hargrave-Andrew Library will be open until 2am Monday to Thursday beginning 30 May until 23 June. 

Clayton campus study spaces may be viewed on the Clayton campus map (PDF, 0.25 MB)

You may also want to check out 'More study spaces opened at Caulfield'.

Additional study spaces are also available at our other campus libraries. These include:
Berwick Library (120 spaces)
Peninsula Library (250 spaces)
CL Butchers Pharmacy Library at Parkville (120 spaces)

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11 May 2016

More study spaces opened at Caulfield

The good news for students at Caulfield campus is there are now a range of available study spaces, in addition to those in the Caulfield Library.

The Caulfield Library refurbishment works have reduced the number of available seating and the noise and disruption associated with the works has discouraged many students from studying in the library.

It is timely that other study spaces have been opened as we approach the end of semester one and the beginning of Swot Vac and exam period.

View the Caulfield campus map.

You may also want to check out 'Quiet study spaces at Clayton'.

Additional study spaces are also available at our other campus libraries. These include:
Berwick Library (120 spaces)
Peninsula Library (250 spaces)
CL Butchers Pharmacy Library at Parkville (120 spaces)

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10 May 2016

Access to Caufield Library during exam study time - bring your ID card

Make sure you bring your ID card for hassle-free access to Caulfield Library during the period leading up to and including the exams. 

Caulfield Library will be open to only Monash staff and students between 16 May and 17 June, to ensure they have the best access to available study space.

If you plan to use this library over this period you must carry your Monash ID card to minimise inconvenience and delays at the library entrance.

CAVAL and ULANZ registered borrowers will be able to retrieve and borrow specific items, but will not be able to study in the library during the restricted access period.

Alumni and external fee-paying Library members will continue to have access by presenting their Library card. Students from Sir John Monash Science School and Nossal High School can also get in if they have their school ID.

As seating in the Caulfield Library is much more limited because of the refurbishment, a range of available study spaces have been opened in other buildings at the campus to provide more facilities for Monash students. 

The temporary Monash-only restricted access to the library was introduced a few years ago to alleviate the shortage of study space experienced at Caulfield during the exam study period, when use is at its peak.

When completed in April 2017 the library will have double the number of seats it had.

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9 May 2016

How to put the fun back into uni (essays, exams and all)

As you approach the end of semester you may find that most of your work is due at the same time. Yikes! Not only that - you have exams approaching fast. This can be stressful, especially if this is your first time, or if you haven’t done so well in past semesters. It is always worth remembering that you’re not alone. Form a study group and try these approaches to make studying more fun! Damian Gleeson and Romany Manuell.

Form a study group

Study at uni can be a lonely business. Why not reach out to some people in your tutorial and form a study group? Ideally, a study group consists of 4 or 5 members… any more than that, and you’re looking at a party!

The DISC questionnaire can be a useful tool for determining your group members’ personalities and approaches to work. This can help you to identify the variety of strengths and areas that need work among your team mates. Once you’ve worked all this out, you may find something like this:
  • Student A is quiet, but takes meticulous lecture notes. Student A is a useful resource for the group for this reason. He’s a top record-keeper of key lecture content.
  • Student B is talkative and energetic. She is great at remembering conversations and important insights from your tutor. She’s both likeable and a natural leader. Combined with Student A’s lecture notes, you have the lecture and tute materials covered.
  • Student C’s strength is research and reading. They got a HD for the first assignment and your tutor singled out their excellent research, citing and referencing skills. Someone with this much attention to detail is a great resource to ensure that your group is at its most effective when revising the semester’s content.
  • Student D is also quiet and is not confident about her English language skills. However, she has work experience in the field you are studying, which allows her to clearly see and explain why the unit’s content is relevant to your group’s future professions.
So there is a wide range of personalities, skills and knowledge in your group. Cool! This means any areas that individual members think are weaknesses for them can be overcome by the members who are strong in those areas. Your strengths are not just an advantage for you - your team mates can also reap the benefits. Put your skills to use reviewing the reading, lecture and tutorial materials. Put your group to the test by working on past exam questions together.

Revision - turn a boring chore into clever fun

If this describes you and the way you like to work (left), take advantage of it (right). Why not take advantage of the way you like to work?

I like setting and meeting goals
Use a to-do list
I work best against the clock
I like to draw or doodle
Use mind maps to outline how to solve a problem
I like music
Write songs about important information that you need to remember. More here.
I’m a night owl. I enjoy staying up late
Study when you are most alert and do mundane tasks when you are least alert
Solve questions from the textbook
A no brainer
If there are few questions, turn chapter titles into questions then practise answering them.
For example:

Chapter titles
        Managing in a global environment
        Social responsibility and managerial ethics
        Managing change and innovation
        Motivating employees
(Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, & Coulter, 2012)
Requires a brain

        What issues arise for managers in a global environment?
        What is social responsibility and how do managerial ethics apply to it?
        How are change & innovation best managed?
        Why & how do managers motivate employees?

If you remain uncertain about how to be efficient and take joy in your academic work, don’t forget a friendly Librarian or Learning Skills Adviser is available to speak with you at a drop in.

Damian Gleeson is a learning skills adviser and Romany Manuell is a subject librarian at Caulfield Library.

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5 May 2016

What a busy clinician needs to know for patient care

eTG complete is an industry standard resource used by clinical practitioners at the point of care. Our Pharmacy librarians Madeleine Bruwer and Mario Sos give the low-down on this resource.

Therapeutic Guidelines (eTG complete) provides unbiased, high quality, reputable guidelines for the treatment of common conditions observed in clinical practice.

Each guideline provides a broad overview of the disorder followed by recommendations for therapy, including drug recommendations and dose regimens. The structure of the guidelines makes it easy to assess, interpret and distil the relevant evidence for making decisions regarding patient care.

The guidelines are developed by a group of experts comprising medical specialists as well as general practitioners, pharmacists, nurses and librarians. The guidelines are frequently updated to provide the most recent information and are designed for use in Australia.

The new upgraded version of eTG complete features a dynamic and user friendly searchable interface. Search by keyword or browse by the index or contents list.

New and unique features
  • Browsable drug index - find drugs and their indications and quickly verify the drug dose for an indication
  • Drug recommendations - View additional information about the corresponding drug including its suitability during pregnancy and breastfeeding as well as its availability through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) 
  • References- Each article contains a reference list with links to PubMed and other sources to follow up on the research. Also provided are the members of the expert group responsible for the topic and endorsements.
  • Tutorial Video - A quick start guide to searching and browsing eTG complete
  • Unlimited user access for Monash students and staff.
eTG complete is available though Search and through Databases A-Z. If you have trouble accessing it please contact Mario Sos or Madeleine Bruwer.

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2 May 2016

Surviving your oral presentation

Public speaking is an important skill, but for some people it can be nerve-racking.  Fortunately there are resources and programs to help you, says Clinton Bell.

At least one of your courses will likely include oral presentations as part of the assessment, and for good reason. Whether it’s presenting at a meeting, making a pitch to a grant committee, or educating clients, a lot of careers involve public speaking. Getting some practice in while you’re at uni can really help your job prospects!

Unfortunately, oral presentations can also be pretty stressful. It’s normal to feel a little nervous when giving a presentation - even people who perform for a living sometimes feel nervous before getting on stage. However, if you find yourself getting so anxious it becomes a problem, or you just want to feel less nervous, there are ways to help yourself cope.

One of the best things you can do is practise your presentation before you have to deliver it. This helps you get the wording down, but it also makes giving the presentation feel more familiar, so you’re less likely to get the jitters on the day. Try practising in front of your friends or family to get used to having an audience. If you need a place to do it, you can book one of the group discussion rooms in the library.

When you’re getting ready to present, focus on breathing deeply and evenly, and try to act confident, even if you’re not. Starting the presentation is often the most nerve-racking part, so if you can put on a brave face long enough to get through that you should be fine.

There are also programs and resources that can help you. You can find several video guides to how make a great presentation on, a video training service which Monash students can access for free through the Library. Search for “public speaking” or “presentations” and you should find several useful courses.

If you’re in a hurry the Library has prepared a quick study guide to oral presentations. If you have a bit more time, we have quite a few books about public speaking and presentations. You can also come see one of our learning skills advisers at a drop-in session - they give advice on presentations as well, not just essays, and no appointment is needed.

If you don’t feel confident about your spoken English, try one of the English Connect programs. English Connect is free and run by specially trained students, and there are several options available from short one-to-one sessions (no booking required) to weekly workshops.

With a bit of preparation and the right advice, you don’t have to be afraid of oral presentations - so take advantage of the resources on offer, then get up there and give it a go!

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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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