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Showing posts with label study skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label study skills. Show all posts

5 October 2017

Getting to Grips with Citing & Referencing

Academic integrity is one of the key skills you need to develop during your university studies. This includes acknowledging the work of others and disclosing the sources of your research. Bei-En Zou, a learning skills adviser, writes about the importance of citing and referencing and offers some tips to mastering this skill. 

Before we talk about the importance of citing and referencing, we need a few definitions! Most people often use these terms interchangeably, but they do in fact refer to two different things.

Citations are sources that you mention within your research. They're accompanied by a footnote or an in-text reference. A citation can be a key piece of information that you've drawn from someone else's work or a direct quote from a text. 

Referencing, on the other hand, refers to a list of all the resources you've used in your research at the end of an essay or article. This is also known as a bibliography.

Why do we need to cite and reference?


You probably know that it's a requirement to cite and reference properly in your assignments, but why is it important? Citing and Referencing is important because universities want to train you in thinking originally, and to contribute your own ideas about your subject areas and to produce original work. It's therefore important to distinguish which is your work, and which is the work of others. 

Acknowledging the sources that you have used in your work highlights where you have contributed your own ideas and research. 

Citing and referencing have other important roles too! Referencing is a way of providing evidence to support the claims that you are making in your essay. You can use the work of experts in your field to lend weight to your own research, to show how your work is built upon previous intellectual endeavours or how your work challenges and deviates from the traditional understanding in your field. An essay or report with appropriate and accurate references is always more convincing and persuasive than one without any!

A good set of citations and references also enables your marker to track down all the material you used and get a sense of how widely you've researched. You are showing your marker that you are aware of the breadth and depth of your field. Referencing also gives you a chance to acknowledge the hard work of others before you. 

Using different citing and referencing styles. 


Harvard, Chicago, IEEE, APA... there are at least a dozen citing and referencing styles that are used at Monash. Each faculty has their own preferences, and even within the one course, you might find yourself using different styles for each of your subjects! You can usually find all the information you need about citing and referencing styles in the Unit Guide for your subject, or by asking your tutor, demonstrator or lecturer. The key is to maintain consistency and watch out for the finicky little details in the commas, italics and ampersands. 

Resources to help you.


Referencing can be a fiddly and frustrating process, as you come to grips with all the intricacies and variations among different styles. The library has created a number of excellent resources to help you navigate all elements of citing and referencing. 

Here are our top links:

This is your go-to place for all things citing and referencing. Bookmark it on your computer and refer to it frequently for all examples and explanations of all the referencing conventions for you to follow. 

If you're feeling a little unsure about citing and referencing, this is a great tutorial that will explain the basic principles, and you can test out your knowledge at the end with quizzes.

One of the most common citing and referencing styles used at Monash is APA (American Psychological Association). If that's you, APA Central is a great resource. It contains videos, quizzes, templates and quick guides for you to get on top of APA style. 

  • Research and learning point - drop-in sessions
Drop in without an appointment to see a librarian or learning skills advisor for some advice on researching for your assignment, including citing and referencing. You can find a list of session times here. 

(*) Please use either Firefox or Internet Explorer to complete this tutorial. 

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13 September 2017

Think critically!

Do you ever receive assignments back with the comment: “your essay is too descriptive” or “more critical analysis needed”? Learning Skills Adviser Bei-En Zou writes about what it means to be critical and how to go about developing your critical thinking skills. 


One of the key skills you want to develop during your time as a university student is the ability to think critically. Critical thinking is not only a skill for life but a quality that is becoming increasingly sought after in the workforce. 


What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is not about being a critical person! Rather, in the academic context, it is about thinking in a way that does not take what you read or hear at its face value. Critical thinkers look at the evidence behind expert opinions, weigh up ideas against each other and make their own reasoned judgments about how compelling an author's explanations are for certain phenomena.


Practising critical thinking

Good critical thinking begins with asking questions. When faced with a new idea or piece of information, in a journal article or a book, begin by asking the big ‘W’ questions to orientate yourself:
  • What is the main idea?
  • Who wrote this?
  • When was this written? And what was happening at that time?
  • Where was it written?
  • What evidence does the writer provide to support his/her main point? 

Once you’ve done that, critical thinkers go a step further, by taking that information, and asking if any of it affects the credibility of the material presented. Here are some examples of things to look out for:
  • Scientific articles published more than five years ago might be relying on outdated methods and data. 
  • Research that is funded by corporations like this one might publish biased results designed to support a corporation's product instead of presenting their results impartially.
  • Legitimate sounding publications such as the Journal of Historical Review which are actually avenues to push forward a particular political ideology.  

Analysing Arguments

Next, focus on what the author is saying: their key point (this is also called an argument). Ask yourself:
  • Does the writer use evidence to back up their claims?
  • What is the quality of the evidence used? (How recent is it? Does it come from reputable, scholarly sources?)
  • Does the writer make any assumptions?
  • Does the writer go from point A to point B in a logical way? Is the overall flow of the argument clear and logical?
  • How convincing is the overall argument? What do I agree with? What do I disagree with? And why?

These questions will help you evaluate and critically analyse the strength of a particular argument.

Critical thinking is a journey

Thinking critically is difficult and will take time. It’s a skill to develop over the course of your degree. However, if you take anything away from your university studies, the ability to think and act critically is invaluable. Becoming a critical thinker will make your life much more rich and exciting!


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5 September 2017

Sorry, what? Improve your listening skills


Lectures can be overwhelming no matter what you're studying. There's so much content! Do you need to write everything down? Romany Manuell, a subject librarian at Monash, offers a few tips to help you with your listening and note-taking skills.




We all wish we had a photographic memory - with an audio component - so we can capture everything our lecturer says... These days, that wish is a reality! Many lecturers at Monash Uni make use of Learning Capture to record lectures, and then make the content available on Moodle through your unit site. But whether you're attending the lecture in person, or reviewing the lecture via Learning Capture, listening just isn't enough. You'll remember much more if you adopt some of these approaches:

1. Prepare to listen with purpose

A good way to prepare for lectures is to try to read relevant readings beforehand and come to the lecture with a series of questions you’d like the answers to. Listen out for the answers, and you’ll be listening with purpose! You don’t actually have to ask the questions out loud, but if they aren’t answered during the lecture, look for opportunities to discuss your questions with your lecturer, tutor or fellow students.

2. Practice your handwriting

Yes, it’s old school, but according to studies such as this one, writing by hand can actually help you remember. Researchers believe there’s something about handwriting that helps you to reframe content in your own words. So leave that laptop at home (it might help you stay off Facebook too… gulp!).

3. Listen out for signalling words

You may find that words such as first, second, also, furthermore, moreover, therefore and finally indicate stages in the lecturer's argument. Listen out for those words in order to grab the main points. There are more useful signalling words and other tips available on Research and Learning Online.

As you can see, listening and note-taking really work hand-in-hand. So if you need to brush up on your note-taking skills, watch the video below:



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1 August 2017

All about the Research and Learning Point


Did you know there is a desk at every library, where you can talk about your assignments with knowledgeable staff? By Romney Adams, Clinton Bell, Romany Manuell and Bei-En Zou



It’s called the Research and Learning Point, and the opening hours for each library branch can be found here. Note that from Week 4, evening drop-ins until 7pm are offered at Hargrave-Andrew and Matheson libraries.

This service point is different from the Information Point where Library staff loan you books or assist you with printing. The Research and Learning Point is staffed by librarians and learning skills advisers, who are experts in researching information and presenting it effectively.

Best of all? You don’t need to make an appointment. Just drop in after catching up with friends, on your way to grab coffee, or in-between classes! We’ll work with you for up to 15 minutes, and make sure you’re on the right track… just be sure to bring the assignment sheet, and/or a copy of your work with you.

So, what are some of the queries librarians and learning skills adviser handle? Let’s ask them now...

What can you ask a librarian?


Librarians get asked a lot of questions! The most common questions have to do with finding high-quality, authoritative information. Maybe you’re working on an assignment and can’t seem to find a journal article on your topic. Or, maybe what you’re looking for is in a book you never knew existed! Librarians can talk to you about the keywords you’re using, and can suggest places you might like to look (in databases, or on the shelves).

Librarians are also referencing experts! We can help you with your reference list and talk you through some of the finer points of the different referencing styles.

What can you ask a learning skills adviser?

Not sure how to get started on that essay? Wondering how to best structure your assignment? Need some tips for the oral presentation that’s coming up? Wanting to get better results and manage your study time more effectively? Learning skills advisers are here to assist you in developing your skills in all aspects of your academic work! No matter what style of assessment you have, we can show you the way to plan your approach - we even have some tips for exam preparation.

We’re not all about assessments though. As well as time management tips, we can also work with you to develop your critical thinking, note-taking, and effective reading skills, which will be beneficial to you throughout your degree!

What’s available online?


If you can’t make it to a Research and Learning Point, don’t worry! Through Research and Learning Online you can find information and interactive tutorials on study skills, doing assignments, and graduate research and writing, as well as examples of assignments from each faculty. If you're in a hurry, there are also Quick Study Guides you can print out.

Our Library Guides webpage also has a lot of useful information, including the popular citing and referencing guide, which gives examples of correct references in many of the styles used at Monash. You can also find lists of important databases and journals for your study area, as well as guides to Turnitin and EndNote.

So, visit your Research and Learning experts - in person or online - before the assessment crunch begins!




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24 July 2017

Time management tips: How to get organised

Juggling readings, assignments and revision can be one of the most challenging parts of university. Here’s how to get organised and make the most out of your time! By Clinton Bell


You probably already know procrastination is a bad idea. If you put off doing assignments or don’t revise regularly, it’s easy to fall behind and end up with way too much stuff to catch up on. Unfortunately, even if you know you should study, it can be difficult to make yourself do it - especially if you’re busy with other things.

If you find yourself struggling to make time for study, or you feel like you just have way too much going on, try planning your time with a study schedule! There’s an example of how to make one on the library website.

Making a schedule has several benefits:
  • It helps you work out how much time you have, and plan your study around your work, social life, and other commitments
  • It’s easier to keep track of tasks and due dates if you have them all written down in one place
  • You’re less likely to procrastinate if study is a regular part of your routine. Scheduling study in advance can also make you feel more committed to actually doing it
  • Having a plan can help you feel less stressed and more in control of your study.
When making your schedule it’s important to prioritise. Consider how important things are as well as when they’re due - if an assignment is worth a lot of marks you’ll probably need to spend more time on it. If you need to do something which requires other people, special facilities or equipment, you may also need to work around when those things are available.

For large assignments, it can be helpful to split the task into smaller goals. For example, you might aim to write one paragraph of an essay each night. Splitting the task into chunks can make it less intimidating to get started, and can also help you stress less - if you’re meeting your goals you know you’re on track to get the assignment done.

As well as planning your time, it’s important to use it effectively. Using good study methods and improving your skills can give you better results in less time:
Time management can be challenging, but with good planning and study skills you can get everything done on time. So best of luck with your study in semester 2 - and remember, come see us at a drop-in session if you need help!




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15 May 2017

Presentation skills: You need them, and the Library can help!

Whether you're an international or domestic student, speaking in front of your class can be daunting! If you need a bit of help, the Library is here for you, says subject librarian Romany Manuell.



Presentation skills: useful for work and life


Some people just love performing in front of a group! For others, delivering an oral presentation can be anxiety-provoking. Firstly, it can help to remember why you're being asked to deliver an oral presentation. Your lecturers and tutors are not trying to make you feel stressed out. It's all about helping you prepare for life outside the university. You'll probably be asked to give presentations to colleagues and peers in the workforce (if you haven’t already done so!). Why not start developing your employability skills now?

Watch and learn (and read)


The Library has plenty of self-help resources to help you improve your public speaking skills. A big favourite is the Lynda.com video tutorial platform (search for “presentation skills”). Set a time limit for yourself when venturing onto Lynda, or you might find it becomes an easy way to procrastinate.

 If you have more time (and you’re absolutely sure you’re not procrastinating… be honest, now!) why not peruse the Library’s extensive collection of books on the topic. In Search, try “public speaking” or “presentation skills” as keywords.


Plan, prepare, practise and present


If you’re just beginning to research for your oral presentation, this downloadable guide developed by the Library will point you in the right direction. It’s all about The Four Ps! If you’ve already finished your plan, why not use the dot points on this previous library blog post as a checklist to make sure you’re ready to go.

If you are still feeling anxious, you’re not alone! Monash University’s mindfulness programs and resources can really help. Or, perhaps it’s your English that’s giving you nerves? Check out what English Connect has to offer. Finally, don’t forget that Learning Skills Advisers are available at the Library’s drop-in sessions, whether you want tips and tricks, or just a quick run-through of your presentation. Good luck!



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