Jorum: a vast reservoir of helpful study resources

At this time many students at Lincoln, and without doubt elsewhere, are strenuously revising for exams and submitting voluminous  dissertations. It might be useful to peruse what the HE sector at large offers in terms of advice and support during this hectic period. Jorum qualifies as the UK’s largest repository for discovering and sharing Open Educational Resources for HE, FE and Skills. After browsing the substantial archive (a search for exam skills elicits 47 results, whilst a search for critical thinking receives 225 results), I chose Robert Falmer’s (from the University of Northampton) Critical Thinking: Exploring Flaws and Weaknesses in Arguments Xertes video from last year available through the Creative Commons licence.  Mostly suitable for first year undergraduate students, Robert explains the flaws and weaknesses in arguments within a critical thinking context by presenting three sets of three flawed arguments, with questions and feedback for each argument.

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Manchester’s amazing portfolio of academic skills videos

I find it always worth looking or…(let’s be honest) rather investigate what materials are being produced in the Higher Education sector, and particularly those made by university teams (in this case ‘My Library Essentials Team’) who win awards for their valuable work. Last year, the University of Manchester won the prestigious Blackboard Catalyst Award for their amazing portfolio of study skills articulate videos, amassing some seventeen options embedded on their webpage ranging from booking a workshop to advice on writing and revising for exams.  You can browse or search their workshops and online resources, and filter your results by selecting or deselecting the tags.  As you can see below I’ve chosen their ‘Being Critical: Thinking, reading and writing critically’ video which can also be downloaded as a pdf, as well as Better safe than sorry: proofreading your work, and Down to Business: finding business information

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Being critical: thinking, reading and writing critically

This resource explores how to be critical, highlighting practical strategies you can use in your academic reading and writing that will enable you to demonstrate critical analysis in your assignments.

Better safe than sorry: proofreading your work

This resource explores three vital elements to review when proofreading your work – flow, clarity and accuracy – and gives you a chance to learn about and apply some techniques to ensure that you check your work properly.

  • Duration: 15 minutes
  • Format: Online tutorial

and then this….

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Down to business: finding business information

This set of resources introduces a number of powerful research tools you can use to get a range of business information. It includes practical demonstrations of the Fame (company information), Passport (market research) and Factiva (trade and industry news) databases.

  • Duration: 15 minutes (each)
  • Format: Video

Setting up a Refworks account

Have you ever wondered how to make referencing a a whole lot easier? Refworks is an online bibliographic tool that organises and then formats your references and all it takes is a few moments to set up an account – see below for a quick tutorial. Plus the University of Lincoln’s version of Refworks has a full range of referencing styles which also incorporates our very own Harvard Referencing guide:

easy tips on expanding your vocabulary

How do you learn new words and especially use academic language suited to a university? Expanding your vocabulary can make writing assignments easier and more enjoyable.  Here are a couple of tips:

  1. Firstly it is important to read as extensively as you can; absorb the language used in a scholarly journal article. Get into the ideas the author (s) is expressing and learn how to convey an academic argument.
  2. When searching a scholarly database like Science Direct take note of the language used and how the paper is written. Investigate the themes and how they are threaded together to deliver a convincing argument, or not (!).
  3. Buy a good quality dictionary and an extensive thesaurus to identify synonyms and antonyms. Remember to always keep them at your side when you are drafting your assignments.
  4. Read a quality newspaper like the Guardian or Independent regularly.  Newspapers are subsidised at the SU shop in the Main Building.
  5. For the slightly more ambitious reader fine literature penned from literary masters like Donne, Faulkner, Montaigne, Tolstoy, Zola or Flaubert to name just a few would be worth delving into, and get inspired to write more fluently.
  6. For anyone interested in the power of the written word it is certainly worth regularly visiting Maria Popova’s well-crafted Brain Pickings blog and particularly her piece on Kurt Vonnegut called ‘How to Write with Style: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word‘.



screenshot of the most renowned thesaurus available….

EndNote referencing

I’ve just  attended some preliminary training on the referencing software EndNote, which would ideally suit researchers and those committed to longer-term research projects and developing specialisms.  You can use EndNote  to search for keywords, retrieving results and viewing the abstract. The references are then stored under tagging (‘labels’) and establishing themed groups. It is similar to our other referencing software, Refworks  but is probably more aimed at higher level students or researchers.  I was particularly impressed by the way a user could find freely available pdfs within the collated references, rating the article, the flexibility it offered, the use of ‘sticky notes’, and an easy keyword search within the references. You can find EndNote on university pcs (start > all programs > EndNote). There are some videos from that will help you if you want to use EndNote.

For Windows:

For Macs:






alighting the Transliteracy Express

I’m nearing the end of the University of Lincoln’s Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age (TELEDA) course having started the course last October. We consumed a veritable feast of social media (Twitter, Delicious, LinkedIn, Pin Interest, blogs, wikis, screencasts) as well as keeping a reflective diary about our learning journey. This engagement contributed towards an eportfolio which holds evidence of activities, reflections, scholarly research and so forth.  It’s certainly reinvigorated my interest in recording screencasts which I have routinely added to this blog, and I definitely feel more confident in engaging with social media, which happened to be my original aim of enrollment.  Without knowing it at the time,  I achieved the wonderfully titled term ‘transliteracy‘ which is the ability to write across several platforms.


If you’re interested in digital literacy then it’s worth watching the latest Jonathan Dimbleby lecture by digital guru Martha Lane Fox broadcast last month: 



Academic Writing Support service

As this time of year is especially busy with tight hand in dates and dissertation research, our new Academic Writing service is proving very popular in the Library. Managed by Judith Elkin and staffed by Cheryl Cliffe and myself, the AWS service is held in the Learning Development room on the ground floor of the Library at various times throughout the week. So, if you have queries about how to get under way with essay planning or start an assignment then why not go along to one of our drop-in sessions and bring along a draft or essay plan, or email to make a 1-1 appointment?



We also have bookable calendars for students to reserve an appointment with an Academic Subject Librarian.




Updated Harvard Referencing guide

Our updated (2nd edition) of the Harvard Referencing guide is now available for download: and as an app:



There are nine minor amendments to the revised edition which are:

  1. Introduction  The first sentence of the second paragraph should read as follows:A bibliography lists all the sources of information that you have consulted, including the items in your reference list.
  2. 3.4 Book without a named author
    Amendment to reference list example:There should not be a full stop after the title of the book
  3. 5 Conference papers
    Amendment to in-text citation example:You should not give the author(s)’ initials
  4. 9.7 Amateur film and 9.8 Trailer
    Amendment to in-text citation:Director’s name should not be in italics
  5. 10.1 Broadcast
    In the diagram:The title or description of the programme should not be in italics
  6. 11.1 Journal articles
    Amendment to reference list example and checklist:Add a comma after the volume number ONLY if there is no part/issue/month/season
  7. 17.2 Facebook
    Amendment to reference list example and checklist:Facebook should be capitalised
  8. 17.4 Twitter
    Amendment to reference list example and checklist:Twitter should be capitalised
  9. 26.1 Personal author
    Amendment to reference list example:There should not be a colon after “Available from”

Adopting a systematic approach when researching

When carrying out a literature search you may be wondering where to start. Often students start making notes and this automatically becomes their essay, but if you adopt a systematic approach to research then your study experience will be a whole lot easier. If your essay is constructed from notes then you may not be aware of themed paragraphs and a logical argument or thread, and you might encounter a problem with structure. I would recommend the following approach when carrying out a literature review so you are properly organised and thorough:

1. carry out database research (see

2. read abstract before saving document

3. compile list of keywords

4. consider themes for potential paragraphs

5. read articles and take notes

6. consider and reflect upon potential arguments

7. start drafting main body of your essay under themed headings

8. delete headings if necessary.


new Academic Writing Service in the Library

An exciting new service for advice on academic writing has recently started in the Library with staff able to advise on a range of writing skills from grammar to structuring an assignment. Please email us at to arrange a 1-1 appointment and bring along a draft assignment. To support this initiative there is a new libguide about the Academic Writing Support available at complete  with informative tabs.  You can drop into any of our sessions in the Learning Development room at the end of the ground floor of the Library during the times listed below:

  • Monday – 11.00 – 13.00
  • Wednesday 13.00 – 15.00
  • Thursday 14.00 – 16.00

Running from left to right, our team consists of Judith Elkin, myself (Daren Mansfield) and Cheryl Cliffe.


Report writing structure video (with subtitles)

I have added subtitles to the screencast video I recorded yesterday about report writing structure, which is a clever facility available on YouTube (select the CC icon once you play the video). I hope to record another screencast video on writing reports nearer the end of February. Please note that this video does not include a literature review, but the previous post does.

Academic Writing: the Critical Evaluation Essay video

Richard Galletly’s (an Academic English Lecturer at Aston University) excellent overview of writing an effective essay to discuss and critically evaluate different motivation theories is well worth watching. He also offers written and verbal feedback on a student’s essay on the banking crisis which is useful and answers many frequently asked questions in the process. Richard refers to Andy Gillet’s 2009 Inside Track to Successful Academic Writing book as inspiration for his video, which is available on YouTube.

Emphasising the need to re-draft assignments

As part of a new series of videos on study skills at Lincoln, Tracy Lamping, a senior lecturer in the Business School, volunteers some insightful advice to students in re-editing their work and proof reading what they have written to increase their grade…her top tip for academic writing at university. Employing such scrutiny may achieve the difference between receiving a 2:1 and a First! Other useful videos are in the media pipeline, and will shortly be made available across various library subject guides.