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Showing posts with label Information research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Information research. Show all posts

5 September 2016

How being a student is like being a detective


If you’ve ever been told by your lecturer or tutor that your paper is “too descriptive”, you need to show more analysis, or you need to take a more critical approach, then Librarian Clinton Bell has an unusual solution: imagine you’re a detective…



magnifying-glass.jpg
smwright/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0.)
Let’s say you’re working on a case. When you start out, nobody knows what the correct solution is - you certainly can’t look it up in a textbook! Instead, you need to collect evidence, and then try to establish what might have happened based on the evidence you find and your own reasoning. As the case proceeds, you need to investigate thoroughly and avoid jumping to conclusions. Sometimes evidence can be false or misleading - witnesses might lie, or something that seems suspicious at first might have an innocent explanation. This makes it important to collect evidence from multiple sources and carefully assess how reliable your information is. As well as collecting evidence, you need to put it together to work out what happened. You might start by coming up with several possible explanations and then comparing each against the evidence; or you might look at the evidence and try to link all the pieces together to come up with a coherent explanation. Once you think you have a solution, you need to convince the police or the courts. To do this you will need to explain your reasoning and show that the evidence supports your conclusion. You may need to contrast your conclusion with other possibilities, and demonstrate that your explanation is more likely to be true. So what does all this have to do with being a student? Like the detective’s case, the questions you work on at university don’t always have one correct solution that you can look up in a book. Instead, you’re expected to gather information from various sources and then form your own view based on that information. The emphasis is on trying to establish which answer is best, rather than just accepting what someone else has said or compiling a list of information. You can’t accept all the evidence at face value either. Some sources just aren’t very reliable, but even experts can disagree with one another. Like the detective, you need to carefully evaluate the information you’ve gathered and avoid relying on a single source. As well as gathering information, you need to analyse and interpret it. Exactly what this means depends on the assignment and what field you’re studying, but in general you need to link the information you’ve found together and make judgements. Asking yourself questions is a good way to do this. Some questions you might ask are:    • What are the different views on this matter? How do they differ?    • How strong is the evidence for each view? Are some better supported than others?    • If there are conflicting opinions or evidence, why is that?    • Based on the information you’ve gathered, what actions should we take? What result do you expect from these actions? Finally, you need to communicate your findings and explain how you reached them. You need to show the person reading your assignment that you’ve come to a conclusion based on sound reasoning and evidence. This is what your lecturer is asking for when they tell you to be critical or show analysis - they want you to demonstrate that you’ve gone through the process of careful investigation and reasoning I’ve just described.

Good luck with your assignments - hopefully with these tips you’ll find them elementary.




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4 April 2016

Incorporating research into your assignment

Ever wondered how much of an assignment should consist of your own ideas on a topic and how much should be ideas you’ve found through research? How do you show this in your assignment?  Read on for some tips from Learning Skills Adviser Emma Price.


CCO Public Domain
How about when your assignment feedback says ‘where is your voice’? What should you do?

The key to incorporating research into your assignment is working out your argument on the topic, and how your sources can be best used to support it.

Here are four strategies:

It’s your paper (mostly).  

Your lecturers and tutors will most likely know what the experts in the field have written in your topic area, and they may well have contributed to this themselves.What they are interested in reading in your assignment is your response to the topic.

Your ‘voice’ is your response to the topic, not just what others have said, and this needs to be evident throughout your assignment. But be careful here: academic writing is about informed argument, not opinion. Use your research to give credibility and authority to the argument you are building on the topic. Of course, any sources you use in your assignment must be cited and referenced appropriately.
Use your sources wisely.

The research you incorporate into your assignments could be for facts or statistics, as supporting evidence or examples, or to provide different perspectives on a topic. Just always make sure the research you include is relevant to your topic so it gives you the best possible support in your argument.

Keep in mind you should always evaluate your sources for their quality and usefulness. The Library Guides in your subject area can help direct you to academic databases and strategies here.
It’s all about structure.

Ideas from other sources should generally not appear in the first sentence of your paragraph. Rather you should use the first sentence to set the theme for that paragraph. This shows greater command of the assignment topic too.
Here’s a simple guide to paragraph structure for incorporating research:
  • A ‘topic sentence’ summing up the main point of the paragraph,
  • Further explanation of that main point,
  • Evidence and examples to demonstrate the point in action (your research), and
  • A link back to the topic and your point’s relevance to it.
As you can see, your research features in just one part out of the four here. Mastering this kind of paragraph structure can help you develop and illustrate your assignment ‘voice’.

Summarise, paraphrase or quote?

Summarising and paraphrasing are preferred in your assignments as it shows your deeper understanding and engagement with the research you’ve done. You can use ‘reporting verbs’ to help introduce and discuss your sources, and this also is part of good academic writing. For example, ‘Smith (2010) argues...’ or ‘Jones (2012) states…’. Remember, keeping effective notes as you research will help you out here when you start to write your assignment.

You may need to check if you can include quotes in your assignments (not all faculties or units let you). If you can use them, it’s best to keep any direct quotes to a minimum. Overuse of quotes might suggest that you have rushed your assignment and just cut and pasted to save time. Any quotes should be situated in your sentences to give them some context and explanation. This way they work for your argument rather than making the quotes speak for themselves.

And again, of course, any sources you use in your assignment must be cited and referenced appropriately. Stay tuned to the study blog for more tips on referencing.
Don’t forget the friendly Librarians and Learning Skills Advisers at the Research and Learning Point drop-ins are available if you have any questions on how to incorporate research into your assignments.



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10 September 2015

How to make databases work for you!


Whether you’ve been given an article as a starting point or are embarking on a detailed literature review, databases can take some of the hard work out of finding quality articles that are relevant to your topic… By Catherine Hocking



Snowballing your results with citation searching

You’ve been recommended an article? Great – let’s get started! You can grow your results quickly, just like rolling a snowball, by looking at just one article. A quality article - like one your  supervisor has recommended - is a great starting point for your search.

Firstly, you can look at the reference list at the end of your article – this will point you towards earlier materials that helped the author(s) to write the article. But what a database like Scopus or Web of Science can do is allow you to look  forward in time, discovering how others have built upon this research with the "database citation tracking" feature.

Here’s how it looks in Web of Science: Click on the ‘Times Cited’ number and instantly you have a whole new list of related resources at your fingertips!

If you haven’t been given an article, never fear, as you can find out how to get started by taking our tutorial on Developing a search strategy or contacting a subject librarian for expert advice. Once you have found a good article or two you can get on with citation searching!

Want to know when the latest cutting edge research is published?

Setting up an alert can help.  Most databases offer some form of alert service.  By setting up a Personal Account in your favourite databases you can access alert services for your saved searches, new citations for a particular author or journal article, TOC (table of contents) for new issues of a specific journal or RSS feeds.

There are so many ways in which databases can  help you keep on top of your research.  Read our basic guide on Alert services and check out the Help in your favourite database for specific details.



Image: Snowball, Oxford UK 2007 Kaymar Adl, CC/2.0/

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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 them....by 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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23 March 2015

Being a survivor at uni

Is university different to what you expected? Are you unsure how to get started on your
assignments or if you're doing it right?


At the libraries we offer drop-in sessions where you can get advice or suggestions on how to make progress in your studies when you are feeling uncertain.

Please visit - you are welcome to attend and no appointment is needed.

Our learning skills advisers and librarians have written blog articles for you that may give you a lead in to getting started on that assignment:
At Clayton, the Matheson Library is offering Life Hack videos which will give you tips too.
 
At Caulfield this week, special Survival Week fast classes on Using the APA reference style and Using multi-disciplinary databases are offered at the Caulfield Library. Again, bookings are unnecessary.

Survival Week (23-27 March 2015) offers you a chance to check in and ask yourself how you're coping so far. Check out activities on your campus.


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9 March 2015

5 reasons for attending a Library drop-in

You can get advice at a Library drop-in session. Here are some reasons that you might wish to take this option....by Rosemary Miller

Library drop-in sessions commence this week and will continue through the semester. Students seek advice at these sessions on a range of topics and for many reasons. See if you can relate to any of these examples.

1. Need a handle 

Simon is unsure where to start with his first University-level assignment – so different from school.

2. If you feel stuck

Elena wants to know where she would find articles on her essay topic as her search attempts on the internet and on the Library site have found nothing.

3. Make group work work

Adam and Zhang need advice on how their project group might make an effective oral presentation to their tutorial group.

4. Talk to an expert

Sophia thinks that she cited all her sources properly in her work but her lecturer suggested she needed to include more details.

5. More tips

Taking notes in lectures is difficult for Jing. She needs some tips on how to go about it effectively.

You can get advice from a learning skills adviser or librarian at your library's Research and Learning point. Check when drop-in sessions are offered. No bookings are necessary .


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16 February 2015

What is Search – How do I use it?



I have seen Search on the Library home page. How do I use it to find and request books and resources?......by Paula Todd

Search is Monash University Library’s resource discovery interface. It is the first port of call for a new student wanting to find textbooks, recommended and supplementary resources and reading lists set by the lecturers. It has more than a traditional library catalogue as it will link to electronic resources such as eBooks and journal articles as well as print books and other physical resources held in the campus libraries.

How do I use it?
The Search box on the Library home page or the one on the Library tab of your my.monash portal will do a basic search, very similar to Google. Just type in some keywords or a title and click Search. There are some useful tips to get better results as just typing in keywords will retrieve lots of results. See the Help tab or try some of these:
  • Use the Library Collections scope to search for items held by Monash University Library 
  • All Resources scope (default) will retrieve all items including electronic articles and books
  • Use quotation marks for known titles, “office 2010 for dummies” 
  • Add the author’s surname to a title,  “office 2010 for dummies” Rathbone, to be more specific
  • Use the Facets on the left hand side of the results to narrow search results according to specific needs, for example by branch library, by date or by resource type
  • Try the advanced search option
  • Sign-in to see what you have on loan and save items to your e-shelf.







Now I have some results how do I see the details and how do I get them?

The brief results display all items that match your search. There is either a “Get it” tab for a physical item or a “View it” tab for an electronic source such as an article or an eBook.  
For print books or other physical resources such as DVD’s, kits or models, the “get it” tab will display the Dewey number (call number) of a physical item and the campus library where it is located. The details tab will give you more information about the item including subject headings. Click on the subject headings if you want to see more resources on the same topic. The “Virtual Browse” option will show a scrolling list of cover images for other items with the same subject as the item you are viewing. 

To request items from another branch you will need to sign in and click on the Get it tab. Items can be requested if available at another campus library or on loan from any Monash library. You can chose to pick up an item at any of the campus libraries in the drop down list. You will receive an email when the item is ready to pick up at your nominated campus library.

Articles and eBooks can be accessed using your Authcate by clicking the “view it” tab and then clicking on one of the “available at” links. You can see the library guide on eBooks
for more information on how these work.

What can I do with my sign in?

Signing into Search with your Authcate when you are looking for information means you can quickly request items that appear in your search results. There is also the option to save the details of items, such as books and articles you have used for assignments, to your e-Shelf so you can refer to them later in your reference list. Setting up folders in your e-Shelf is easy if you want to be really organised. To add an item to your e-Shelf, in the Details (and other tabs) there is an Action drop down menu and e-Shelf is the first one in the list.









For assistance with locating journal articles, attend a drop-in at your branch’s Research & Learning Point and chat with a librarian.



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19 January 2015

Learning about academic integrity

The Academic Integrity online tutorial is available to assist students in developing the knowledge and skills required for good academic practice...By Heidi Binghay


As a student, you need to learn and adhere to the ethical principles relating to your use of ideas, knowledge and information. 

The Academic Integrity interactive modules set is an important part of the implementation of the Student Academic Integrity Policy and Procedures at Monash.

You will appreciate how the concept of academic integrity is connected with the real world through case study examples. As an interactive online tutorial, you will THINK and DO rather than just read.

When you go through the modules, you will get:
  • an overview of the main principles of academic integrity;
  • ways to develop skills to ensure integrity in your academic work;
  • information on plagiarism, collusion and academic misconduct.

The Library encourages you to complete the online modules. Academic integrity is a set of skills you can take with you beyond university into your future employment and career.

You can access the online modules in the Library Resources block within Moodle and on the Library website.

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13 January 2015

Individual consultations for honours, postgrads and research students

Advice on how to conduct preliminary research for your thesis can be very valuable, and the Library has staff that can provide it.


Librarians with subject and discipline responsibility can provide expert advice about research skills, as one very satisfied postgraduate student exclaimed:

"Frankly, I expected a half-hour session with a few good pointers, but it was a 1-hour session chock full of really helpful ideas and practical research advice!"

Make the most of this valuable service. Contact a faculty team librarian and book in for an appointment.

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