Pathway Podcasts

Pathway podcasts

There are 10 podcasts in the Library Pathway series, the first of which introduces you to library services at Falmouth University. Each podcast explores different aspects of the library service and team.

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Welcome to the Library (5:24 min)

This podcast introduces the series, shares some key information about library services and includes a chat with Laura Lay, Head of Library and Archives.


Welcome to the Library Podcast  (Transcript)


Anna  0:06 

Welcome to the library. This is the first of 10 podcasts in the library pathway series, introducing you to library services here at Falmouth University.


Each podcast will introduce you to key people within the student and Library Services team who help to introduce you to different aspects of the library, as well as assignment research. We'll talk about the most important things you need to know as a new user of our library, as well as how to engage with information for research and in doing so we hope to ensure that you're ready to successfully complete your first assignment.


This week we'll meet and talk with Laura lay head of Library and Archives. But before we do, there are some key pieces of information, I'd like to share with you.


Firstly, where can you find us. Well, wherever you are, you can find us online at Our website provides a gateway to all our resources as well as information about our services and help that's available.


The website also signposts resources and services available to students studying with the University of Exeter. And for partnership students studying at a distance.


If you're on campus you can find the Penryn Campus Library in the exchange building next to the Stannary and at Falmouth campus you can find the library near the very top of the sites near the wood lane entrance. We have maps and current opening hours information on our library website to help you.


In this series of podcasts, we'll be talking about some key content and resources you can find online to use our services online you'll need your it network username and password.


If you have problems with your login, then you can email the IT Service Desk at or you can visit an IT help desk on site if you're on campus. Again, there's more information on the website.


In order to use our resources on campus, you will need your student ID card which doubles as your library card when you're on campus.


Now I'd like to introduce you to Laura Lay and ask her some questions relating to getting started in the library.


Hello, Laura. Firstly, could you please introduce yourself to our audience.


Laura  2:29 

Yeah, hi I say I'm the head of Library and Archives, and to manage the libraries on the Penryn and Falmouth campus, and all the library services for University of Exeter students who are based in Cornwall, and Falmouth university students.


Anna  2:47 

Thanks Laura, and could you possibly say a few words to introduce the library to new students.


Laura  2:54 

Yeah, sure. So the library is both a physical place that you might visit on campus and it's also a huge collection of online resources that have been curated by the librarians and libraries really important for you as a student.


In terms of the secondary sources that you might need to support your study so anything that's sort of beyond what you might get in your lecture is where you can do all the independent learning and the research that, that is all part of being at university.


Also within the library. There's so much help you can get from the staff or finding resources and how to study. And so you can ask any of us for help, and you've also got a subject librarian who you'll meet during your course as well.


Anna  3:44 

Thanks, Laura, that's great. I'm sure there are lots of anxious students during University this year wondering about the student experience in a newly socially distance world and I wondered what reassurances can you offer students about their library experience this year.


Laura  4:03 

Yeah, I'd say over the summer this year, and we've been working really hard to make sure that your library experience is, is really excellent, whether you are coming to campus, or whether you're staying at home, and whatever experiences we have during the year in terms of kind of lockdowns and self isolation etc so that everybody gets an inclusive library experience. Our priority has been to make sure that the library resources which are on your resource list so the ones that your module leaders are recommending as far as we could possibly make digital resources so that there's online resources for you these might be ebooks or journey journal articles or scanned chapters from books for example, so making sure that those are all available for you. Thanks Nora. Could you explain to new students some of the different ways they can get help online or on campus. Yeah, sure. So, um, one of the main ways you can get help is through the live chat function so there's a ask the library live chats that you'll find on the library website. But you can also say phonus or email us. If you'd like a little bit more support, and just rather than just a quick question. You can also book an appointment with your subject librarian. So there's a link for that on the website.


We also in the libraries, we do have a help desk and you're welcome to come and ask us any questions at the help desk.


If you are on campus if you're using the campus library you will find it's changed to how it was last year because we've put in place a lot of safety measures to make sure that we can follow the social distancing guidelines.


This will include things like making sure that Li, enabling you to book study spaces so that people can stay two metres apart and we don't have a big queue of people so you know that if you go there, the space that you've booked is ready for you to use. Also within the shelves, we need to make sure that people are following kind of hygiene principles washing their hands etc before they browse the library books, and we probably need to limit the number of people who can go in as well and have a one way read, so that you can make sure that you can be safe and stay two metres away from people while you're searching for books in the library, but we will have those, those those spaces open so you know some courses, and for, you know, for some people, that opportunity to kind of search and browse through the books is really important so we want to make sure that we're where we can that's that's open to people. Oh yeah, I think that's, yeah that's really reassuring thanks.


Anna  6:49 

And finally, is there anything you'd like to say to students that are just starting out on their studies.


Laura  6:55 

Yeah, I was thinking about this question on it, um, when I, when I started University, and in my very first lecture, I had some really good advice, actually. And that was the being at university and doing university education is not about finding answers. It's about finding questions, if you can think about that. It's really nice and it, and it's actually all about what the library is about because it's about thinking about questions critically thinking. Hmm, what's missing in this or not. And then, you know, the library will, you know, don't you Debbie will provide some answers, but it'll also widen your mind and make you think about lots of questions as well.


Anna  7:36 



Transcribed by


Enter the library (8:59)

A guided tour of the library and chat with one of the library assistants.

*Please note there may have been changes to the layout of the library since the making of this podcast.


Enter the Library  


This episode we’re going to be talking to Roo who works in the library, who's going to be sharing his top tips for new students. We’ll also be looking at the library and study hub websites and we’ll introduce you to the library search tool.   


So there are two university libraries for you to get to know. We'll start with Penryn Campus Library and then I'll tell you more about the Falmouth Campus Library.   


As you come into the library, you'll probably notice how noisy it is. Lots of students spend all day here making use of the different spaces. This is because it's set up for group study - there are quiet areas on the next floor - you'll see the help desk where they're able to help you. And if you're a student who's based off campus and you need help, you can always phone or email us or use the live chat service, Ask The Library. Links and details about these can be found on the library web pages.   


Near the Help Desk you will find the printers, which also work as copiers and scanners and are operated via a University ID card. Over by the printers you'll see the Hold Shelf. This is where you can pick up a book or DVD that you may have reserved. There are also some smaller bookable rooms, set up for groups to work in. To the left of the entrance, we have the current newspapers and magazines on display. This is a great place to come and browse if you have time between lectures. And of course, you'll have access to lots more online magazines, so what you see here is just a small selection.   


Before we go upstairs, let's meet Roo who works in the library and he’ll tell us a little bit more about life at the help desk. Could you say a little bit about what you do?  


The version I tell my mom is that I move books around. But more accurately, I make sure that books are in the right place and that people can access them. So I spend a lot of time on the Penryn Help Desk helping students and staff access resources, tidying up books and make sure they go back on their shelves, sending and receiving books from Streatham Campus in Exeter, and I also work with the Academic Liaison team promoting new resources, making videos for the web, and editing these podcasts.  


And what's a typical student like on the Help Desk?  


That's a really hard question because it varies hugely through the term. The Penryn library is open 24 hours a day for most of the year, and gets much busier and more frantic around deadlines. But to give you a general idea; every day we help students locate books, access electronic resources, we hand out books from other libraries, and we show people how to use the printers and find their way around the library, we tidy up the space, and answer other random questions.  


So what's the question you get asked the most by students.  


At the start of the year, everyone asks where the books are. Because when people walk in the first time, I think they're surprised that it's loud and they can't actually see any books. So the majority of the library is study space. And we've got such a huge range of students that we've got huge range of different spaces. So we've got loud group study, solo study, quiet study, bookable group rooms, group desks, private desks, sofas, booths, and one solitary beanbag which moves around everywhere. And actually all the books and the DVDs and the maps and the vinyl and the archives, everything is upstairs. I get asked that probably 20 times a day at the start of them.  


Great, thank you very much. And what would be your top tip for new students?  


Come to your library induction, or at least come for a walk around library before you need to use. We’ll tell you all about using the library, and we don't actually expect you to remember everything, but it will reduce your anxiety when you actually come to use the library for the first time. Learning how to use the library early on means that all your studying will be that much easier, because you can use the library like a tool instead of learning to use that tool as you go.  


And finally, do you have a favourite bit of the library or favourite library resource?  


I love the music collection. Since working at the library, I've gotten into so much old pop music and jazz from the collection that's up there. And I do a sort of fortnightly ‘recommended listening’ display, highlighting what's in the collection by putting albums in the listening station and finding old reviews and just to try and pass on to all the students and staff who come in how amazing that collection is.  


Let's get back to the Library. When you go up the stairs by the magazines you arrive at an area set aside for solo study. There are also two silent study rooms and these are ideal for when you want to work quietly on your own. They also have some great views out to the coast. If you go through the double doors up in the quiet study area - where most of the book collections are - the books are arranged numerically with books on the same topic shelved together. The record is on the end of each shelf, which can be the shelf number or subject area.   


Library catalogues are dotted throughout the space, which you can use to check to see if the library has certain books and where they're shelved. Remember that we have a huge collection of ebooks too. So if you're based off campus or just can't make it in, you will have access to a wide range of books. As you go further into the space on the right, there's the music collection of vinyl and CDs. There's a record player here and the CD listening post so you can try before you borrow.  

Past that is the DVD collection. This is made up of films we’ve bought in and programs that have been recorded off the TV. Some of this collection is also available via our streaming service so you can access them off campus. And just beyond the DVDs, you'll see the flexible learning room. You may have a session in that room, so watch out for it on your timetable. On this floor there is also the reading room. When the rest of the library gets busy. You're bound to find some spaces available here.  

Now to the second library at the Falmouth Campus. It's a bit more compact and everything is on one floor, but they offer a very similar service. So you will find the books which support the courses that are taught there. There is an area which displays new magazines, an area for group work and a separate room for quiet study. And of course, there’s friendly staff available to help you. You're welcome to use either library, whichever campus you are based on.   

So the library isn't just about physical space. Next we're going to browse through the library website. If you're based off campus, this will be your library. To find the website, simply type or type ‘FXPlus’ and ‘Library’ into a search engine like Google. It might be a good idea to bookmark this.  

You will see that the website is divided into lots of different panels. One of these is for new students. These pages will tell you the basics you need to know - how to use the service for example - how many books you can borrow, and how you can contact us. There's also a video you can watch which gives you a quick tour of the two libraries. If you’re a distance learning student there's also a link to another page which explains a bit more about the extra services we have for you, back on the main page of the website.   

Next to the new student section is a link to the Study Hub. This is a great resource for advice, tips and techniques to help you improve your academic work. For example, you'll see there are sections about lectures and how to make the best of them, how to deal with written assignments and advice about referencing. To get back onto the library web page, just click on ‘library’ on the top menu bar.   

On the library website, you'll also see there's a subject guide section. They'll be more about this in podcast three. But for now, maybe go and find the subject guide that's been created for the subject you're studying.   

Probably one of the most common reasons for using these web pages that to use a search tool to find a book or other library resource. At the top of the screen, you'll see the search box. If you know exactly what you're looking for, type in the author’s last name and a few words from the title. So let's look for a book by john Berger called ‘Ways of Seeing’ so typing ‘Berger’, and ‘ways’ and ‘seeing’ into the search box results brings back details of the physical print book, and the link to the Ebook version.   


If you want to do a search for a topic you're interested in, just type in some keywords that would describe it. For example, social media marketing brings back a mixture of books and articles, reports and TV programs that mentions these words. We will get a lot of results back from that sort of search, so remember to use the filters to narrow it down. There will be much more about this in a later podcast.   


So that's it. We've covered a lot. We've looked around two physical libraries and a virtual one. We've had a chat with someone who works here.   


The next podcast is called Explore the Library and looks at finding and using your reading lists and subject guides. 



Explore the Library (9:39 min)

We talk about ways to find relevant resources with Rosie (one of the Academic Liaison team), focusing on subject guides and resource lists. We also talk about the role of the Academic Liaison Librarian team and the support they provide to students.

(*Please note InfoPerch has now been replaced with drop in sessions for each librarian so you can drop in to see your subject specialist at designated times - please see the library website)



Explore the Library 

In this third podcast in the series, we'll be exploring your library a little further and talking about some other ways to find relevant resources, other than by browsing the shelves or by using Library Search.  

We'll be exploring two key features of the library landscape. Firstly, Library Subject Guides, and secondly, Online Resource Lists. These are both very important access points for discovering resources from our collections in order to support your assignment research. We will also find out about another feature of your new library environment when we meet one of our Academic Liaison Librarians. We’ll talk to Rosie about Subject Guides and Resource Lists as well as asking her about the role of the Academic Liaison Librarian and find out about the support the team provides to students.  

But before we meet Rosie, let's tell you a little bit about our Subject Guides. The Academic Liaison Librarians have created Subject Guides which relate to the courses taught at Falmouth. These have links to specialist resources and support relevant to that subject. Exeter students can also find subject Libguides via the Exeter Library website.  

Subject Guides can be useful starting points for exploring collections relevant to your path of study. Remember that there may be more than one guide that relates to your studies. And when you visit one, you will find related guides listed alongside. To find the Falmouth Subject Guides, you simply go to the main library website at select Subject Guides on the homepage. The Exeter guides are signposted from this page too. On the Subject Guides main page you'll find a menu of subjects from which to choose and also a video to help familiarize you with the guides.  

Once you enter a Subject Guide, you'll see a menu of resources as well as the picture of your Academic Liaison Librarian with a link to their email. There are also links on the right hand side to access resources and support. You'll notice that you can still access library sarch at the top of the screen, but the main subject menu takes you to specialist resources including journal databases, journal titles for your subjects, as well as links to reference and multimedia sources. You may also find help materials to support resources and research in your subject.  

It's important to familiarize yourself with the subject guides that are relevant to you. So do take time to explore these early on before you have any assignment deadlines looming.  

Another key landmark in the library landscape, and another important access point for relevant resources will be your Resource Lists. These are managed by the library but can be found on your virtual learning environment. So Falmouth students can find their resource lists on the learning space, and Exeter students can find resource lists on LE.  

These Resource Lists are usually created by teaching staff, and may include a variety of resources, including books, chapters, journal articles, and a range of multimedia content. We check the resources included to see if we have access to them in our collection, and buy essential titles where possible. This means that you can often link directly to a resource if it's electronic, but if it's in print, you'll be directed to the holdings information about a resource so that you can find it in the library.  

It makes accessing and engaging with your key reading for your modules so much easier than a static list of resources. Academic Staff sometimes organize resources in weekly or themed groupings too so that you can find relevant and timely content much more easily. Now, as promised, we will talk to Rosie Enys, who's the Academic Liaison Librarian in the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts.  

Hi Rosie, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed today. Firstly, could you tell us a bit about your role? What is an Academic Liaison Librarian? 

OK, your Academic Liaison Librarian is your point of contact for the library. Each course has one and it will be useful to know who yours is. We aim to provide a sort of a bridge between the practice of your subject and the practice of research, so helping you explore your subject through the library's physical and digital collections, we work with your academics and other teams within the library so that you can have the access that you need to resources to inspire your creative practice, and also inform your intellectual engagement with your subject. 

So perhaps you could also tell us a little bit about the support that you and your colleagues offer to students? What sort of support can you offer? 

Your Academic Liaison Librarian is here to support you through all the stages of your degree and we're easily contactable by email or phone. All that information is on the library website. We offer regular - what we call – Info-Perches in the library, and these are drop in sessions, where a librarian and a member of the Academic Skills team are on hand to help you with research, writing, referencing that kind of thing.  (*Please note InfoPerch has now been replaced with drop in sessions for each librarian so you can drop in to see your subject specialist at designated times - please see the library website)

You don't need an appointment for that at all? 

You don't need an appointment, you just turn up. 

So yes, are there any other ways that you would provide support for students? 

Yes! Subject Guides are a really important part of the library website. So these will help you identify the resources that are really useful and relevant for your subjects. So do have a look at those. We also work with your academics to deliver sessions in your modules. So trying to identify when it's going to be most useful for you to have more information about researching your subject. 

So hopefully students will see you at some stage or an Academic Liaison Librarian in one of their sessions. And if you had any top tips for new students starting University now, what advice might you offer? 

I think the first top tip has got to be to find out who your Librarian is. That's on the subject guides, our names and contact details are there. Secondly, just feed your curiosity for your subject. You're here because you're passionate about your subject. So immerse yourself in the library collections, and find out a bit more about what's on offer through those Subject Guides.  

So thinking about Subject Guides, would you be able to talk us through some of the resources you've included in your own subject pages and the value of those two new students?  

Yeah, I'll give you a flavour of what's on the music and sound subject guides. One of the resources is called Rock’s Back Pages, which is a fantastic resource for music journalism. There's some really great titles in there, an archive of titles that include NME, Melody Maker, Rolling Stone, and there's a whole load more, including audio interviews with artists. In that same subject guide we've also got Bloomsbury Popular Music for browsing for artists, albums, music, eras, and music genres across the globe. There's also an Encyclopaedia in there. And the other things that are quite popular are the timelines and the world map, so you get some contextual information.  

In the academic liaison team, you oversee the promotion and the development of the TALIS resource lists, which we've been talking about in this podcast. Could you tell us a little bit about how you think they're useful to students? 

These are the lists that you will see embedded in the modules in the learning space. So every module has got a TALIS resource list that links you to the resources that are available for your module. The benefit for you as a student is that it links you directly to the resource. So this could be a digitized chapter of a book, an ebook or journal article, or video or whatever, straight from the learning space, the list will link you directly to the resource you need. 

Thanks, Rosie. And could you share with us your favourite part of the library? Part of the space or the collection?  

It's a difficult question to answer. But I quite like the journals area. I like to flick through the latest journals and magazines, see what interesting ideas and projects and events are happening. There's also, at the moment, we've got a small selection of new magazine titles, just one offs that show what's trending. So that's particularly interesting to me. 

Thanks, Rosie. Before we finish this, is there anything else you'd like to share with students?  

Well, there's quite a lot, but keeping it fairly short. I want to emphasize that we have the most amazing video collection here that's growing all the time. It's both a physical collection of old VHS DVDs and bluray, but it's also a very rich and growing streaming collection. And to supplement this we have access to something called Box of Broadcasts. And its worth knowing about because once you sign up, you don't need a TV licence while you're at Uni because it has all UK TV and radio channels and an archive of broadcast programs. And all of this is on the library website and links to Bob are in all the subject guides. 

Thanks Rosie. So in today's podcast, we have introduced you to three new weapons to add to your research armoury. Number one was your library Subject Guide, number two was your module resource lists and number three, your trusty Academic Liaison Librarian.  

Remember, though, that the first two entry points are for discovery and exploration, and we hope that as you become more confident in your approach to research, you will be able to use a range of tools and approaches to help you on your journeys of discovery. 


Develop Search Skills (5:01)

In this episode we talk to Rachel, one of the Academic Liaison Librarians, about how to do research. We discuss how to go about breaking a topic into keywords and how to improve the results you get from a search.



Develop Search Skills 

This week we're going to be talking to one of the Liaison Librarians about how to do research. We'll be looking in detail at how to go about breaking a topic into keywords and how to improve the results you get from a search.  

So let me introduce Rachel who is part of the Academic Liaison Team. If you’ve listened to Podcast Three you will already know that Liaison Librarians and how they work closely with your course team.  

So Rachel could you tell us what advice you would give to students when they have a topic to research? 

OK. Well I think it's important that students realise that there's more to research than simply hitting Google and trying to find an answer. In fact if you're researching well, by the end of your assignment instead of presenting an answer or a really neat conclusion, what you might find is that you've got more questions - and that's a good thing. It's also important to be aware that research can sometimes be a frustrating process. So you might find that the ideas you have lead to dead ends and you might have to change the direction of your research. 

So we try to tell students to be prepared for the process of research to feel quite messy. It’ll probably take longer than you expect and it's best to be flexible about the direction your topic might take you in.  

Thank you. On a practical level what sort of things should students do to get their research off to a good start do you think? 

Well obviously you need to know the parameters of your assignment. So we always say to go back and read the brief carefully, do things like check the word count, and find if you’re expected to include things like journal articles or primary sources. 

Once you've got that clear, ask yourself what you know already. So that's probably a good time to start jotting down the keywords or main concepts, and these could be names of theorists or dates. It could be names of events or objects. And if it's relevant to your topic it can be a good idea to go back and look over lecture notes or check any reading list you may have been given. You could then maybe do a basic Google search or dip into Wikipedia to help scope out the topic further. 

Remember that you're not going to stay with Wikipedia but you are using it to pull out more keywords and ideas and you can add these new words to that list. Some people also find it helpful to talk through the topic with a friend. Talking to someone else can give you a fresh perspective on it and give you new ideas and new examples for you to follow up. You might also want to go back to the Study Hub web pages and look for advice there and to look at research skills in the Getting Started section. 

Thank you. The next step would be to start to locate material for your assignment do you think?  

Yep. Searching is a step you're likely to repeat several times as you find out more. You'll end up adding to your keywords and then having to search again. That's a process you repeat several times. 

So what would you recommend someone uses to find this material? 

The Library search tool is always going to be a good starting point. That will search the library collections - the print books, e-books, and the journal articles all in one go. So what you do is, you type in some keywords and look through the results. It's likely you're going to get a lot of results. So it's a good idea to use the filters to narrow these down. You might use it to narrow them down by year so you focus on what's been recently published or by type of material you might want to find a book and not an article. 

So are there any clever tips you have for getting more focused results.  

One that I use quite a lot is the phrase search. So this is where you put quotation marks around a phrase that you want to search for. For example - influencer marketing - put quotation marks around “influencer marketing” to search for exactly that. 

There are two useful words to know about as well, and that's “and” and “or” so using “and” will combine two ideas or keywords. It will narrow the search down. For example if you wanted to find out about the effects of poverty on crime try typing the words - crime and poverty.  

If you wanted to search for two different concepts or keywords type “or” in between them. 

An example for that would be - cats or dogs. Also use “or” when you're searching for similar words. For example - university or higher education. Another example might be - sneakers or trainers - or - skyscraper or multi-storey. So using “or” will broaden out research, and it should get more results.  

And again if that sounds confusing the Study Hub research pages have more about how to improve your search. And there are also some short quizzes where you can test what you've learned.  

So what about if someone wants individual help on a one to one basis?  

Individual help can be really useful so we offer a drop in service called the Info-Perch which runs in both libraries on both campuses. 

Plus you can book an appointment with your librarian through the library subject guides, and for our off campus students we offer a chat service called Ask a Librarian.  

So to sum up:  

- Give yourself a bit of time to do your research  
- Make sure you unpack your topic  

- Think of different ways to describe it  

- And remember there's lots of help available if you need it  

Thanks Rachel. In our next podcast we're taking a look at some of the sources of information that you might be using to do your research. These include peer reviewed journal articles, primary and secondary sources, and we will also suggest ways you can make the most out books. 



Sources for higher education (8:17 min)

In this podcast we talk to Laura (in her then role as Academic Liaison Librarian) about some of the resources you may be expected to use at university.


Sources for Higher Education 

Welcome to podcast number five. This week, we're going to explore some of the resources you may be expected to use as you start your assignments. During the first year, particularly in the first few weeks, you're probably going to be told what to read or be directed to book chapters or articles in your online reading lists. However, at some stage, you'll be asked to find your own source of information. And it's useful to be reminded that good information can be found in more than just textbooks. So first of all, let's meet Laura who’s one of the Academic Liaison Librarians. 

So Laura, what will students be using that they may not have come across before?  

It might seem obvious, you're going to be using books, but I think that you might be using them in a different way. So for example, you're probably never going to read the whole book, you're probably going to look at the table of contents, or perhaps the index in the back and just find the thing that answers the question and gives you a bit of an insight into what you're trying to research.  

And I think it's easier actually with an ebook because you can search by keyword. So the library has loads of ebooks. So that's a really good way to just kind of dip into a book and read a little bit, and then then you can reference it in your sources. One of the things about books is that they do take quite a long time to publish, around about two years. So some of the things in them might already be out of date. So if you've got a topic that's changing really quickly, like business trends or something like that, then you might need to use different sources. And we'll talk about that in a minute.  

Another thing that I think sometimes students are new to when they come to university is a book with chapters written by different people in it. And it might be called a reader, it might be kind of like all the core essays and critical thinking about a particular topic, or might just be like an edited book about that topic with lots of different authors opinions, and I think those are really good sources. Because you can get lots of opinions in the same book. And also it makes your reference list look really good because you’ve got lots of different references, even though you've only had to get one book out. 

Okay, so how about using journals? I think the name can be a little bit confusing to start off with… 

Yeah, it makes you think about diaries and writing your journal doesn't it? Journals might be new to people. I mean, essentially, I think most people know what a magazine is. Sometimes we talk about journals. And they are in fact magazines. And sometimes we're talking about an academic journal, which has been written by academics about research that they've done. And it's really aimed other academics. So the writing is quite different to how you would read it in a magazine, which has been written by a journalist. We might also, when we're thinking about journals, it might be a sort of professional or trade magazine. It could be something like Harvard Business Review, for example, which has been written by journalists. But it is, you know, really good top quality information about that particular area of work with the journals. And I think most you're going to find them online.  

When you read those journal articles, each one will have an abstract at the beginning, which just summarizes what's in the journal.  

My really top tip is to read the abstracts, if you don't understand what the abstract’s saying, then you know, don't bother reading the whole article, because you haven't got to that point yet in your studies where you can understand that vocabulary. You will get to that point. But you know, don't panic if you don't understand the abstract, move on to another journal article where you can understand what's going on in it. Most journals that we talk about, and that your lecturer is expecting you to reference will be peer reviewed. And that means that other academics have read that work. And they've evaluated it, they've checked that it's relevant that all the things they're saying are true, it means it's really top quality work. So you do have to look for peer reviewed journal articles as well. 

How do students go about finding those peer reviewed academic journals? Are they easy to find? 

Well, yeah, like I said, mostly when you’re searching online, you can use the library search, that's a really good starting place to search. Most of the results that come up will be journals articles anyway, you can filter by journal articles or peer reviewed. We do have some print journals in the library but it's time consuming, looking through print journals. And also there's just masses more online. So that's, that's probably your best route. 

I’ve also noticed that you've got lots of glossy magazines in the library such as Vogue or Empire, is it okay to use those for research? 

I think it is, it all depends on what you want to get out of it really, what you want. And what your assignment’s about. It's really good, I think to balance what you've got in your assignment to use academic sources, as well as those sort of magazine sources. But I think the good thing about these magazines is that, especially the images that are in there, and some of the original material is really good if you're doing an image based course. So if you're doing fashion or photography or something, then obviously you're going to be wanting to look at those magazines. 

So on some briefs students will be asked to look at a mixture of primary and secondary sources. So could you have a go at explaining a bit more about what primary and secondary sources are?  

Yeah, this can be a tricky question. And also, I think it sometimes means different things for different subject areas as well say, for example, my subject - I’m the subject librarian for photography. Photography students are often asked to write a critical review around a photograph or particular photographer, and say that photograph is the primary source, it's the original, you know, piece of artwork. And then when they're writing about that photograph, they then refer to other authors who've written about that photographer, or who've written about that kind of genre. 

And their work will be the secondary source, because they're writing about the original source. So you need to do both of those things. I mean, sometimes you don't have to do any primary stuff. Sometimes it's just what other people think about this, what do I think about it, but sometimes you will need to use those primary sources as well. So you can see how that might transfer. It might be an artwork, it might be a fashion design, a photograph, if you're doing something social sciences, then it might be a survey, and my understanding is if you're doing English, then it could be a novel. Because that is the original artwork. 

So I’m trying to think about other sources? How about newspapers, news reports? Have they got a role in HE writing? 

I think so, yeah. I mean, I think that they can be really good to like current information for, particularly for getting a little bit of data and a bit of information. But I think what we need to be aware of is that they are aimed at the general public. So the way they're written is quite different. And they might not be researched as well as an academic journal article. If there's arguments in it, or if there's sort of data and its all kind of facts, you will want to just back those up with a few different other sources so that you can be sure, because often, I think most people will be aware that newspaper articles, or newspapers tend to have a political bias. So you might need to be aware of that as well. 

So a little bit of caution there. And how about TV programs? Will they be a good source? 

Yeah, while TV programs like newspapers, are kind of made for the general public, they can be a good source, especially TV documentaries. One of the advisors in the inclusive team said to me that it's a really good place to prime your brain. So if you find reading challenging, then you know, TV documentary can be a really great place to start to understand what are the key concepts in this thing I'm looking at, what's the key vocabulary, and get that all into your brain. And then when you come to do the reading that you've been asked to do for your course, you're going to find that easier, because those things are already there. If you do find, you know, learning through sort of visual medium, and TV, then I think it's a really good place to start 

It can be really accessible. Okay, so of course, there are lots of other sources as well, things like statistics and maps, but I think that will probably be enough for now, about sources.  

But to sum up, I think it sounds to me as if to really get to grips with a topic, relying on one source won't be enough. Neither is it a good idea to only look for information that backs up your viewpoint. Your work will be more credible if you include opposing arguments and to do that you need to be aware of a wide range of opinions and to use a wide range of resources. 

When you are using all these sources. You are going to need to take notes and to have an effective way of taking notes and recording what you've read. So there's lots of information on that on the Study Hub as well about effective reading strategies, and for reading quickly as well. 

Yeah, lots of really, really good top tips on that, definitely go to the study hub.  

The next podcast is going to be called Put Your Critical Hat On, and it will look at how you decide what to use in your assignments. 


Put Your Critical Hat On (Part 1) Introducing digital literacy (6:22 min)

In this podcast we'll be exploring ways for you to re-engage with your information world. Beginning university is a really good time to take a fresh look at your relationship with information and the web particularly. If you're an undergraduate student starting out today you need to develop information skills that are far superior to generations of students coming before you in the data driven and complex information world in which we now live.

Welcome to podcast six which I've called Put Your Critical Hat On.  

In our podcasts so far we've been very library focused, introducing you to key tools and services offered by the library. Today we want to expand our conversation about information and we'll be exploring ways for you to re-engage with your information world. Beginning University is a really good time to take a fresh look at your relationship with information and the web particularly. If you're an undergraduate student starting out today you need to develop information skills that are far superior to generations of students coming before you in the data driven and complex information world in which we now live. 

You'll need to be skilled in gathering evaluating and curating information from vast and expanding oceans of information which are being generated by the digital world and which are also heavily polluted with misinformation. You'll need to learn new navigation and evaluation skills if you're to be engaged and successful on your student journey and beyond that to be successful in your working life too. It's important to recognize that in our rushed and busy lives when we search for information it is so tempting to take the path of least resistance and look for quick and easy answers. 

But when looking for information for scholarly purposes and later for professional purposes too it's crucial that you are confident about the quality and appropriateness of the information you source or create. This can take more time and involve deeper exploration and more complex questioning than we're used to in our daily interactions with information. And we must be prepared to take a different and reenergised approach. So however confident you are about your ability to make judgments about information in daily life it will be really valuable for you to take a step back and think about your current approach and consider whether your strategies and knowledge of the information world are fit for purpose as you begin your journey into higher education. 

We are all becoming very aware of the issue of fake news and the spreading of misinformation for political or financial gain but our mistrust and criticality is often limited to online news and potential scams rather than information from all sources. There's also a danger that the prevalence of fake news is making us immune to the seriousness of the issues around misinformation and as students and citizens there's a need to apply healthy and renewed scepticism to all information and to be able to distinguish between high and low quality sources both online and in print. 

It's also becoming increasingly difficult to make quick judgments about information we encounter and to be confident of the origins of it. Sources are not always as obviously distinguishable as they would have been in a non-digital world. And we're also often fed information according to our online behaviour and in the last decade you may have heard of some of the scandals and news stories focused on online privacy and on the malicious use of personal data such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2016 and the Edward Snowden global surveillance revelations of 2013. But the results of more data being harvested whether via web browsers, social media or smart technology is that we are increasingly fed information according to the data harvested about our behaviour. 

And this so called personalization impacts hugely on our information ecosystem. It can potentially make our online world increasingly narrower by impacting on our search by creating a phenomenon known as filter bubbles where your search results are based on your previous search history. So your search results may be different than your friends’ when searching for the same thing. The term Filter Bubble was first coined by Eli Pariser in his book of the same name in 2011 and you can find this book in the library if you want to find out more. Filter bubbles can also lead to polarization of viewpoints as our online worlds increasingly reflect our own opinions and values. This is also sometimes known as an echo chamber and this in turn leads to more extremes and can be harmful to democracy. 

You can find out more information about filter bubbles and strategies for dealing with the digital world in our Digital Me Study Hub resource. Just do a web search for ‘Study Hub FXPlus’ to find it. But the business of evaluating online information is particularly tricky and as digital scholars it can be easy to get confused about what you're looking at and where it's from when searching on the free web and that's why it's important to make use of our library sources which have often been quality checked already. 


We have a huge electronic library with e-books, journal articles, news and multimedia content but we don't have access to everything and there are times when it is appropriate to use the free Web for your research especially when you're just starting out with your research for an assignment and you need to get a feel for your topic. But also for things you can't find in academic databases and for multimedia or popular content that we don't have access to. But once you're out there on the free web you do need to put your critical hat on and question things in a way that you might not usually do when you're using the web for your personal searching. 


You might easily be able to identify that an online article you come across is of low quality due to some obvious indicators such as poor spelling and grammar, lots of advertisements, poor quality images and no reference to any evidence or anybody else's ideas or work. But misinformation can sometimes be perfectly formed. So conversely good grammar presentation and references are not always a guarantee of quality. But there's lots of other ways to help you make up your mind. And so to find out some of the ways to evaluate information and some of the indicators of quality I'm now going to talk to our head of research Christina Lake. 


And in part two of this podcast I will be interviewing Christina Lake to focus on tips for evaluating information. 



Put Your Critical Hat On - (Part 2) Focus on evaluating information (12:14 min)

In the second part of this podcast introducing information literacy we talk to one of the library team about ways to evaluate information.




Part two of the podcast Put your critical hat on. I've been talking about the importance of evaluating information in this podcast. Are there any obvious clues that information is of a good quality? 



When you pick up a book from the library you can be relatively confident of its quality. You might want to check who the publisher is whether it's current enough for your purposes as information in books is often less up to date than in other sources. But if you're looking at journal articles via the library databases or from your reading lists, again you can be relatively confident that they are from trusted sources because they'll have been selected by a lecturer or by the publisher's database. But I think you will find, I certainly as a researcher even though I'm a librarian, did go out on the web and I think the difficulty when you're doing that is you have to really consider what it is that you found. 


So when I find something I don't know much about. I look at things like whether there's a bibliography or a list of references. I'd probably look at who the author is and check whether they're affiliated to a university or some other professional body. That's a good one because I think you do need to work out whether they are somebody who you would want to read and know who they might be. But also I think you need to find out whether you can actually see where it's come from such as an article from a journal - which journal it's from and the full details of when it was published. 


And if it's a chapter in a book the same thing. So there are lots of things that sit on the web out of context and you do need to know that context to find out whether they are something you can use or not. If only for the simple reason you've got to reference it at the end of the day when you use it in your work. 



Yeah. Are there any particular sources that students should be looking to use for their research or is there anything you think they should be avoiding. 



Good question. To a large extent it does depend on the assignment brief. If you've been told to look for scholarly resources then don't use articles from general interest magazines you might find on the high street or popular websites that come off on a Google search. These can be a great source of information, for example if you're looking at how a certain phenomenon is represented in popular culture or for background reading but they don't usually take an academic stance on the subject. So if you want to find a scholarly source then look for something that is peer reviewed. 


So that means the articles been reviewed by others working in the same field to make sure it makes sense and is of good quality. Actually it's quite easy to find peer reviewed sources because we've got something on the library search. You can just tick a box and then what comes up will all be peer reviewed stuff. 



So here, you know where you stand and that's often a question we get asked by students is what are peer reviewed articles and how do you access them.  



Yes absolutely. And I mean if you're looking in our journals collection it's often easy to tell the difference between more academic journals and popular magazines. The photos give it away. Yeah the photos and a lot of advertisements in the popular magazines whereas you'll find some extra features in the academic journals as well as, you might have abstracts which are summaries of the article at the start and the list of references which you were talking about before. 



 So it's really important as students get in and have a look at the journals and get a feel for what are the differences. 



But it's quite good to actually look at them in person and then you've got an idea of what they are for you see online. Sorry yes. If you can but if you can't then have a look at some examples online and you should get a similar idea. 



Yeah. Is there anything else you think a student should avoid? 



I suppose one thing that comes up for me is students often fixate on other students’ dissertation that are answering the exact same question that they're asking. But I think you have to be careful because you have to remember that another student is not going to know any more than you on the subject and also you don't want to steal their ideas. You want to develop your own ideas. So by all means look at their bibliography and see if you want to find any more sources to investigate. But do try to find your own perspective from reading around a range of sources. 


The other thing to avoid maybe is reviews because they kind of look like they're going to tell you everything on the subject but actually they're talking about someone else's books. So the best thing to do then is try and get hold of the book that they're talking about. And remember if we don't have a book in the library we can always request it for you from another library. 



Are there any memorable examples or cases of students using poor sources that you can recall? 



I haven't seen a lot but I think the worst things I have seen is students trying to get us to buy made up books they found on Amazon that are just made out of old Wikipedia articles. I'm not even sure why they're on sale but I have seen a few of them and they're really not worth having. Also occasionally if a student’s looking for that specific thing that's really going to help them with their essay, they might find something that's a bit old and out of date and fixate on it because it seems to be the only sources on a subject. Particularly when students are doing dissertations. 



I think that happens a lot but I think also you do need to think about how reliable your sources are because it's not going to impact you just as a student but also when it comes to evaluating information. As a professional or in your personal life. 



Yeah I think you've got an interesting example of that. 



Well yeah I recently came across a news story about a sculptor in Russia who had been commissioned to create a statue of a famous Russian architect and he failed to check his sources properly. 


And unfortunately having used a Wikipedia entry as his reference he created a bronze statue of the wrong person and it sat in a square in St. Petersburg for seven years before anybody realized that it was actually a statue of a Scottish professor. It was a very similar name. So that was a very sort of high profile embarrassing mistake which I think is a lesson to us all. Quite unbelievable. The perils of using Wikipedia. We must say you can use it when you're doing your initial exploratory research. 






What would be your sort of top tips for evaluating sources to give to new student. 



Okay. Well I suppose the most important thing is just to think critically about them. Take a moment to check what they are and where they come from before you decide whether you want to use them. One framework that's quite commonly used is called the CRAAP test. 


So that's an acronym standing for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose. I believe we do have some more information on that on the Study Hub website. 


But really it just boils down to thinking about where your source is from, how up to date it is, what's the purpose or motivation for creating it, and the reliability of the evidence underpinning it. So yeah, just be sensible when you're using the web for your research. Google or Wikipedia is fine for some initial searches to scope out your research topic. To get a feel for the topic or identify key ideas and theories but it's not the be all and end all. I mean the other thing on the web I guess is Google Scholar can be quite useful. It’s good for some subjects and not others, its pretty good for sciences and some of the media ones and you can connect your Google account to the Falmouth library so you link to our resources. 



I think the students are often unaware of that. So yeah really good. 



Absolutely. But I guess when it comes to sources, your academic writing is important. Think about the origins of published current, particularly with books as we said earlier they do go out of date very quickly, and the relevance to your research. 


So I think the other thing is if you're using the library resources then you are going to have a sort of element of quality assurance there. If it's been purchased by the library it's been chosen by a lecturer as being relevant to your studies or chosen for some other academic purpose.  


And before we finish, I'm asking all our interviewees just for interest really what is your favourite part of the library.  



Tricky for so many you know. Yes I do have some favourite special collections. I mean the Bill Douglas and Peter Jewel collection which has all these amazing books about classic films and early TV annuals and so forth. Which is really fun to look at. I guess as a comics fan maybe my favourite is going to have to be the illustrated books collection at Falmouth campus as there's loads of graphic novels you can borrow there. And just so online students don't feel left out, you do have some great digitized archival resources - the Vogue Archive, National Geographic search. 



Is there anything else you'd like to share with students that are just starting out? 



Well I guess use your reading list and the readings your lecturers recommend and then branch out from there. 


Thanks very much Christina. 


So we've talked a bit about evaluating information for your assignment research, but remember its increasingly important in your personal life too in order to make sense of the world and be a responsible citizen. As citizens increasingly immersed in social media we often don't take the time to think about information we share. 

Some recent BBC research ‘Beyond Fake News’ in 2018 has shown that commonly used criteria for evaluating information on social media include: the number of comments on a post, the kinds of images in the post, but also the sender's identity with the assumption that messages from family and friends could be trusted and sent on without checking. So it's easy to see how misinformation can spread unchecked virally. There have been increasing instances of violence against individuals who have had false information spread about them on social media platforms so think before you share a story. 

But it's also worth reminding you to take care of your personal data. We often make quick and careless judgments when deciding on what information to share about ourselves whether that's posting something on Facebook or agreeing to cookies for a Web site. We talked a little bit about data harvesting at the start of the podcast and data is collected about us at a phenomenal rate every time we log on. If you want to get a feel for the scale of this issue I'd recommend having a look at Dylan Curran's blog and Twitter threads to see how much data can be collected about one person. 

I was truly alarmed at the data that is collected about us and I am much more careful about what I say yes to now. Thinking about your online presence and digital footprints could also become really important for your employability later on as employers increasingly do check out your web presence. To bring this podcast to a close the main point is that we often make incredibly quick judgments about the information we use and that we share and it's really important to break out of these habits particularly when you're searching for and using information for scholarly or professional purposes. 

A key point is to try to slow down when engaging with information and make sure you have your critical hats on especially when the information is particularly important. Whether as a student or a citizen or as a professional. The truth is that all our data and information will become increasingly more important as more of life becomes digital and the information we create and generate becomes a critical part of our identity and our value. 


Tackling Your First Assignment (5:08 min)

In this podcast we talk to a member of the Academic Skills team (ASK) about his top tips for tackling your first assignment.




Hello and welcome to this podcast on tackling your first assignment or essay.  


Assignments are sometimes presented as questions and other times as more detailed and extensive briefs depending on the subject. You can save yourself a lot of effort if you spend some time reading and analysing the brief and the first thing to do with a question or brief is to read it carefully then read it again. This will allow you to pull out the key concepts and phrases. Refer to the learning objectives to see what you should be aiming for and also be aware of the different tasks that the question’s instructions imply, for example phrases like analyse, assess or compare.  


Come back to the brief throughout the writing and research process to make sure you address all the tasks laid out there. Remember you're expected to adopt critical perspectives towards your subject so ask your tutor if you need more help to interpret the brief or a member of the ASK team. Once you understand the brief, think about a research plan. Organize your thoughts by using visual or textual technique to plan your research. Also you can see a librarian if you need advice on finding resources and take your plan plus the brief along if you can. 


Now I'm going to talk to Gareth from the ASK academic skills team about his top tips for tackling your first assignment. 


I've got a few top tips. My first one is developing on what you said about looking at the brief. That's really really important to make sure you understand it. You look at whatever is given to you on the learning space, so the module guide and brief. Anything that tells you what's expected for the assignment. And then you try and really pick it apart. So ways of doing that could be reinterpreting the brief in a mind map or printing the brief out and highlighting key terms as you said or you know what you gonna get marked on. Key terms is really good because then you can start to really focus on what you're being asked to do. 


Deconstructing the brief and being really clear to yourself about what you need to do is kind of the most important thing, because the danger being that you might wander off and start looking at different things which aren't quite what the brief’s asking for. So that's my first hot tip.  


Second one is thinking about the time that you've got to do the assignment. So if you do that first stage, looking at the brief and interpreting it nice and early you can then start thinking about how long you think it's going to take you to do the assignment, write the essay, or whatever it is you're being asked to do. 


So think about making sure you know when the deadline is and then maybe working backwards from there using a calendar or something to work out what you need to do. We also tend to suggest using Assignment Calculator which is a gadget we have on Study Hub. If you go to Study Hub them Written Assignments you'll find assignment calculator there and you can put in the deadline and it will work out the five stages of writing an essay or an assignment. And then it suggests times when you should start each of those stages. So breaking down the process is really useful to help you feel like you're managing the process. You might start on doing research at a certain time and then you might stop doing a bit of research and start writing. 


It's good to kind of identify when you would do that so you can see things coming up ahead over the horizon that you know you're conscious of. Other projects that you're doing as well and also other stuff that's going on in your life as you know when you're going to be busy during certain weekends and when you're not going to be able to work on your assignment. So I tend to suggest to students they do it on a calendar like maybe on an A3 calendar on the wall or using a calendar app that they can even check on their phone means that they could set themselves mini deadlines for certain aspects of writing the essay. Or they could set themselves reminders to do things on the phone. You feel maybe a bit more ownership over the process and not just worry about it and then leaving it and then finding that it's all a bit too much towards the end. 


So it's a good idea to look at the brief and then work your way backwards in the deadline to what you need to do and then a final one is going back to the brief and looking at exactly what the essay title is that you need to answer. Maybe you've chosen your own essay title but in any case you need to really find out what it is that you need to answer. If you are answering an essay title that you’ve chosen then what I always tend to suggest to students is that you write that in the middle the paper, put a circle around it and around the outside you just force yourself to sit there and write as much as you can think of to answer that question from just from the top of your head. Hopefully finding that you writing loads of things that you maybe didn't really realize that you knew, but you think might be relevant to this essay and to answering this particular question that will then hopefully give you a better sense of confidence that you're already kind of on track with what's being asked to do. But also what you could potentially see as areas where you need to do some research to fill in some gaps in your knowledge to send you to the next stage of researching. That exercise is probably a really good way to get started on going into the library finding sources. 


 So yeah that’s my three top tips. 


Using Sources in your assignment (2:36 min)

We talk to a member of the Academic Liaison team about her top tips for using sources in your first assignment.


Using Sources in your Assignment 

Welcome to this podcast on choosing and using resources effectively in your first assignment. The first step is to look at what your brief is asking of you. So here's some areas to consider. Are there any particular resources stipulated for this brief, such as a journal article?  

Identify your information need then decide which are the best research resources to use for this need.  

Your Subject Guides and the library website and the research skills section on the Study Hub can help with this. Look at your lecture notes for information, and reading list for key resources. See effective reading and note taking for assignments in the Study Hub, for strategies to get the most from your resources. 

Evaluate the sources you find as you go along, ask yourself if they’re current, relevant, have authority (accurate) or have a purpose. You can also look at the skills section, evaluating information on the Study Hub for guidance on this area. Also, remember, you can talk to your librarian if you're still unsure of how to find and select sources.  

It’s also just as important to think critically about the content of sources. Have a look at the critical thinking and reading section in the Study Hub for guidance on this. Keep checking back to your research plan and adjust as needed to reflect the development of your research. 

Also know when it's time to stop researching and start writing. And the assignment calculator on the study hub can help give timescales and key areas to work by.  

Now I'm going to talk to Rosie from the Academic Liaison team, about her top tips for using sources in your first assignment. 

My first one would be to be curious, be curious when reading, watching or listening to something and always consider what is not covered by it. Think about its credibility and value to your assignment.  

Top tip number two: be aware of the ideas and references mentioned in whatever you're reading or listening to or watching. These can lead you to other useful resources.  

And finally, top tip three: consider the connections between the resources that you're looking at. The relationship between them is something that you create through using them and that can help structure your thinking. 

Thank you very much. 


Introduction to referencing (2:49 min)

In this podcast we introduce you to what referencing is and why you need to do it as well as talking to a member of the Academic Skills team about her top tips for surviving referencing.  

* Please note that Info Perch has been now replaced with drop-ins in the library - see the library website for details and find our more about support for referencing from the ASK team on the Studyhub.





Hello, and welcome to this podcast on referencing your sources for your first assignment or essay. 

Referencing helps to show how your ideas are developed and acknowledges the research sources of your inspiration. Referencing shows that you're linking to what other writers and thinkers have said or written. Referencing also helps you to understand the value of the sources that you're using, and that they should be acknowledged.  

Guidance on the basic principles of referencing and academic writing can be found in the Study Hub in the referencing section. Examples of different types of references such as book, journal or website and referencing styles, such as Harvard and MHRA can be found in Harvard for Falmouth and other referencing styles as part of the referencing section on the Study Hub. If you need help with referencing, please contact the ASK team, or visit the Info-Perch in the libraries at Penryn and Falmouth.  

Now, I'm going to talk to Chloe from the ASK team about her top tips for surviving referencing. 


Well, I would probably say that it's a good idea to do it as you go, rather than leaving it until the last minute or leaving it till the end. I do sometimes talk to students who leave it until the end, and that's when stress starts to kick in. And you’re then left having to search around, scrabble around searching for sources and page numbers and things like that.  

So my top tip would be to make sure you're familiar with your style guide, whether it's Harvard referencing or MHRA, whichever style your department has adopted, make sure you've got a copy of that guide to hand.  

I would probably say it's a good idea for the first few assignments to do the referencing manual yourself, rather than using an app or an online tool. Because you learn the formats and you learn the order of information. So it's good practice to do it as you go. Every time you sit and do a bit of reading, start to take notes, make a note of all the bibliographic detail. Note that down. You can use Word to help you format that as well refer to the style guide and just do it as you go. So I guess that's probably my top tip. Thank you very much. 


Don't Panic (7:59 min)

In this final interview  in the podcast series we talk to Steve from the team which deals with frontline enquiries, about some of the additional support available outside of the library. We also talk about what to do if you feel anxious about your first assignment and where to get help and support.

Don’t Panic 


Welcome to our final podcast in the library pathway series for new students here at Falmouth University and Exeter Penryn campus.  


We've called this podcast Don't Panic, and it's about what to do when those panicking feelings start to creep in. It could be that you're getting anxious because your first assignment deadline is approaching. Sometimes these feelings can be mixed up with other non-work related worries. And it might be hard to see just what the problem is.  


But the good news is, there's lots of help available both face to face and self-help. So there can be something to suit everyone. In this podcast, we will be reviewing the steps to take as your first assignment deadline approaches and we’ll also get some advice from Steve who works in the front line team who deals with all student inquiries. That team is very used to dealing with a wide range of people and questions. Nothing can surprise Steve’s team.  


Okay, so to focus back on your academic work, and our top tips as your first assignment deadline approaches. Before your first assignment, it might be a good idea to listen to podcast seven and eight again, in those podcasts we got some good advice from the academic skills advisors. Now is also the time to make use of the people and resources we have in place, such as the Study Hub web pages and one to one appointments with your librarian or ASK.  


So to sum up, what we advise is to go back to the brief, check what sort of assignment it is, are you writing a report, an essay, or a review? How many words, does it require you to make use of certain types of resources such as journals or was it left open. Make sure you know the hand in date and the time. it may be midday for example, and not 5 o clock. And know how you're expected to make that hand in.  


Make sure you know what referencing style you're expected to use. If there was some recommended reading, make sure you do it. Make a plan or a mind map. That should help identify what you need to find out about and will also give you key words that you can use when you're searching and finding more resources to use in your work.  


Make sure you know what you're going to write and what order you're going to put your points in. Start writing. Factor in time for proofreading, try to leave plenty of time to review your work.  


And this is probably our most important tip: it's really important to remember that this is your first piece of work, there’ll be plenty of more opportunities to practice and improve on your academic work. 


And here's a quick reminder about the extra help that's available. So if you prefer face to face help, you might like a one to one appointment with a member of the ASK team, that's the academic skills team. They give advice about writing and referencing, or a one to one appointment with your Liaison Librarian for advice about finding good quality sources.  


You can use the Ask The Library website, you could try Info-Perch, which is a drop in service, which provides the same help so it’s like an appointment without the need for an appointment. It takes place in the library on both campuses and runs on different days with the ASK team and an Academic Liaison Librarian. Remember to check the library website or ask the library staff for more information. If English isn't your first language, there will be academic English classes that you can go to and you might also want to look at some of the English for academic purposes team.  

If you're happy with the more self-service approach, remember you have the Study Hub website. Find it by googling ‘Study Hub FXPlus’. It’s divided into sections such as research skills, which covers finding and evaluating information, and one about making the most of lectures and note taking which covers things like effective reading techniques and reading technologies. There’s free text to speech programs that you can download.  


Each topic has a great Top Tips section which is definitely worth looking at. Then there is also the subject guides on the library website. And you can find these by googling ‘library FXPlus’. Once you're there, look for Subject Guides, Subject Guides pulled together resources that are relevant for the subject you're studying, and provide you with links to your Liaison Librarian.  


Finally, we have a study skills book collection in both libraries and online. And these books with titles like ‘The Student Phrase Book’, ‘Vocabulary for Writing at University’, and ‘How to Write Better Essays’. Also ‘Getting Sorted - How to make the most of your Student Experience’.  


If all this sounds a bit confusing, or isn’t likely to answer your question, we have just the person for you. I'm going to introduce you to Steve, who's a student information team leader.  


The Help Desk provides a kind of information guidance and referral to a range of different services on campus. So its really the first port of call for help really, about absolutely anything and everything. And hopefully in doing so we try and take out some of the time, effort and energy in trying to access support. 


So what's the most common questions you get asked, 


Given the nature of the service that we provide, we get ask a wide range of different things. It can be anything from very simple orientation stuff, obviously, on a university campus, people need to find out where they need to go, which can be big for some people, particularly students with particular needs. But it can range to mental health concerns, crisis situations, and everything in between; timetable issues, particularly at the start of the university experience, kind of homesickness, settling in and things linked to that really. And then practical things; finance, back accounts, a kind of plethora. Probably in the seven years that we've been open, we've probably been asked most things.  
And our biggest asset is that if we don't know the answer, we probably know the person or the team that does. 


So in terms of new students, what sort of worries to new students come to see you about  


Students are new to the environment, so things such as the orientation of the campus - and timetables - can be a little bit complex for students. So help decoding that I guess, and orientating with the timetable. I think generally settling into university geographically where we're located as well. It's a slightly different experience for many. So adjusting to that if you're from a kind of big city takes a little a bit for some people. So I think early on people can be perhaps unsure about their course and need a little bit of support in finding their way through that a range of different things. Really early on a lot of practical stuff.  


So it’s a busy time.  




Okay, so what's the most surprising thing your team has been asked? 


There's one thing that always comes up. I think I've mentioned earlier that we get asked most things, but there was one time where I think it was an overseas student heading back for Christmas or a summer break. And they wanted to find somebody to look after their pet rat. 


But every question we get asked, however kind of strange they seem is a student with an issue or a problem and hopefully we can try and, and we did actually find someone believe it or not.  


Okay, so finally, do you have a favourite place on campus that you could share with us?  


I think one place that is really great to get away to and I think not a lot of people know about it, is the walled garden. Particularly in the summer, in the spring, to unwind, it feels like you're away from it a little bit. So even just for 5 or 10 minutes, you know, escape and just be a bit mindful and just, you know, take advantage of that area. 


The other place that springs to mind is the chaplaincy in the cottages area. I think the chaplaincy for many is regarded as something about faith and spirituality. And it's not really, it’s just a quiet place where people can go and sit, reflect and have a cup of tea and a piece of cake. 


Well, thanks, Steve. Thanks a lot. 


So podcast 10 is the last in the series. We've got a lot of topics from what to expect as you walk into our libraries to thinking critically about the sources you might be using for your assignments. We've also talked to some of the people you might meet. These have included your Academic Liaison Librarian, some of the academic skills advisors, or people like Steve, who can connect you with other student services.  


We hope you found it useful and good luck with your studies. 



Top Tips (2:57 min)

Listen to this compilation of top tips taken from the interviews with staff in the Library Pathway podcast series.



What would be your Top Tips for new students? 

1) Google or Wikipedia is fine for some initial searches to scope out your research topic. So yeah, just be sensible when you're using the web for your research. The most important thing is just to think critically about them. Take a moment to check what they are, where they come from, before you decide whether you want to use them. 

2) TV programs like newspapers, they can be a good source, especially TV documentaries. One of the advisors in the inclusive team said to me that it's a really good place to prime your brain. If you find reading challenging, then you know, TV documentary can be a really great place to start to understand “what are the key concepts in this thing I'm looking at?”, and “what's the key vocabulary?” and get that all into your brain. And then when you come to do the reading that you've been asked to do for your course, you're going to find that easier, because those things are already there.  

3) I wanted to emphasize that we have the most amazing video collection here that's growing all the time. It's a physical collection. But it's also a very rich and growing streaming collection, we have access to something called Box of Broadcasts, and once you sign u, you don't need a TV licence while you're at Uni. Because it has all UK TV and radio channels and an archive of broadcast programs. 

4) Come to your library induction, or at least come for a walk around library before you need to use it. Learning how to use the library early on means that all your studying will be that much easier. Because you can use the library like a tool instead of learning to use that tool as you go. 

5) Always bring your student ID card. The other thing is don't be afraid to come and ask the staff at the help desk. Please just come and ask. 

6) My top tip would be, I would say it's a good idea for the first few assignments to do the referencing manually. Rather than using an app or an online tool. Do it as you go. Every time you sit or do a bit of reading, start to take notes, make a note of all the bibliographic detail. 

7) Look at whatever is given to you on the learning space. So module guides, assignment briefs, anything that tells you what's expected for the assignment, and then you try and just go at it really and try and really pick it apart. 

8) My first one would be to be curious, be curious when reading, watching or listening to something. Be aware of the ideas and references mentioned in whatever you're reading or listening to or watching. These can lead you to other useful resources. 

9) Come in use the space. It's your space, so make the most of it. And if you're ever unsure about anything, just come and ask at the desk.