Welcome to the 'Academic Skills' Guide.
The ability to identify, locate and evaluate information is essential for your studies. As you progress through your course you will be expected to research and explore new topics for yourself and move to a more independent way of studying and learning.
You can test and improve your skills by using Skills4Study – our interactive e-learning resource. It offers a mix of tips, advice and practice to help you develop your study skills. Log in to Moodle and click on the Skills4Study link on the library page.
If you’ve been given a reading list then this is the best place to start. If you don’t have a reading list to help you – think about what kind of information you need and the best place to find it.
Why not try the 'Subject Guide' links within LibGuides?
For a general introduction to a subject ,a text book might be the best option. If you need up-to-date, in-depth information; a journal article might be better than a book.
The catalogue allows you to search for the title of a book, journal etc.
Use the catalogue when you know what you are looking for e.g books, journals on a reading list. Search the catalogue for the title of the book or journal (NOT the chapter or article title).
Use the catalogue to search for books, journals, DVDs on a certain topic.
Items can be found using an Author, Title or keyword search or by combining searches using the advanced search option.
You can test and improve your skills by using Skills4Study – our interactive e-learning resource. It offers a mix of tips, advice and practice to help you develop your study skills.
Log in to Moodle and click on the Skills4Study link on the library page.
For more advice on finding information ask the library staff!
Many information sources, particularly academic material are not indexed by search engines like Google. A Google search will retrieve an enormous number of results, and many will be irrelevant, or non-scholarly material.
It is very important that you evaluate the information you find online, to ensure it is reliable and suitable for use in academic work.
Intensive study of a text may need slow and careful reading.
General background reading or repetition, or scanning for specific information may only require ‘skim reading’.
Be selective! Evaluate resources to see if they’re worth reading by checking the introduction, contents and bibliography for coverage. Look out for signposts, key words and phrases which summarise the main points: “in conclusion”, “sum up”, “therefore” etc.
I’ve found everything online. Can I just copy and paste?
As well as paying attention to your grammar, punctuation and spelling when writing, you need to acknowledge the sources of information that you have used. This is known as citing references.
See the 'Citing References' tab at the top of the page for more information.
Taking notes can help you absorb ideas – both from books and lectures. Keep your notes succinct and clear and brief and remember to leave space for notes which may occur to you later. Use colours, underline headings, circle key ideas to make notes clearer.
Consider using Mind maps and diagrams to organise your notes in a more visual way – Inspiration mindmap software is available on student PCs.
Always record where your notes come from for future reference.