Tips and tricks for longer research projects

The focus of this blogpost is literature searching, specifically for longer research projects such as dissertations, and it is aimed at St George’s students.

Your expert Liaison Librarians are able to support you with every step of the way so don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing liaison@sgul.ac.uk. We are able to advise on how to plan and carry out a complex literature search in a variety of databases. We can also recommend which databases are most suitable for your topic.

You can email us for an individual appointment or come to one of our online drop-ins. Monday to Friday between 12-1pm you can chat to a Liaison Librarian directly. Click on the relevant link on the day you want to drop by.

Here we provide tips and tricks, no matter which stage of the process you are currently at.

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If you are…

…just getting started

Do a scoping search in Hunter. Even if you already use Hunter to locate books and journal articles in our collection, our Hunter video might teach you another thing or two about how to really make the most of its search functions.

If you aren’t familiar with the planning stage of literature searching or you usually skip this bit to get stuck in straight away, now is a good time to change that. When it comes to dissertations and research projects, you need to be much more systematic in your work, including when you formulate your research question. Have a look at our Canvas unit on this topic. It gives you more information and by the end, you will have a research question ready to start searching with.

If you are worried about how to structure your dissertation or academic writing, you can make an appointment with the Academic Success Centre team. Their details are found on the Study+ section in Canvas. We also have a number of books in our collection which can help with academic writing, including how to approach a literature review, dissertation or research paper. They are listed on our Writing for Assessment Wakelet.

If you need specific software to do your research, such as SPSS, have a look at what is available to you through St George’s University and request it here.

And finally, a little tip on how to get started. If you know of a paper which covers the area you are interested in already, have a look at which articles they reference and perhaps you find some relevant papers in their reference list for your project. While this is not a systematic method, it can help you get started and add to your search strategy (e.g. which alternative terms to use).

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…ready for an in-depth literature search

If you are a little overwhelmed by the prospect of doing a complex search in multiple databases (and who can blame you), you need to start by familiarising yourself with how to build a complex search, what alternative terms are and how to include them and how to use advanced search strategies. We have a libguide that takes you through the whole literature searching process. For those of you who are working on a systematic literature review, have a look at our relevant libguide, which highlights what you need to consider to turn your literature review into a systematic literature review. Watch the following videos to find out more about identifying keywords and alternative terms.

We have introductory videos on Ovid (Medline), Ebsco (Cinahl) and Internurse to get you started. Once you have familiarised yourself with the basics, watch our detailed video tutorial on how to search in Ovid/Medline using advanced search techniques.

Have a look at our Databases A-Z list to see which databases are available to you. Your subject guide will tell you which databases are most relevant to your course.

Don’t forget – you can also ask a Liaison Librarian for help by emailing us at liaison@sgul.ac.uk or coming to one of our daily online drop-ins. We can recommend which databases are most suitable for your topic.

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…finishing up and sorting out your references

To cite correctly at St George’s, most of you need to use Harvard Cite Them Right. While we have a number of physical copies of this in the library, you will probably be using the Cite Them Right website (login required). In case you need a refresher on how to navigate Cite Them Right, we also have a detailed walkthrough video on our YouTube channel and in our Referencing Essentials unit in Canvas.

We strongly recommend you don’t use reference generators such as Cite This for Me as we find that generally the references produced by such tools are wrong. You end up spending longer correcting and double-checking your references than you would have done writing them from scratch. If you find the resource in Hunter, you will notice a “citation” option for each record. This has been formatted to match the requirements of Harvard Cite Them Right but it is not always correct. Make sure you compare it to Cite Them Right and correct it if necessary.

For a longer project, we encourage you to use reference management software as it helps you to deduplicate your search results, manage your references and create in-text citations and references. At St George’s, we support RefWorks, which is a web-based software. You need your St George’s login to access it and create an account. To get started, have a look at our RefWorks libguide. Additionally, our detailed video tutorial covers everything from how to get started to how to create references and in-text citations from within Microsoft Word.

We can also help you with your references, so if you are unsure about anything please email liaison@sgul.ac.uk or come to our drop-ins.

Introducing: RefWorks video series

Getting all your citations and bibliography right can be a daunting prospect – especially if is for a longer research project, an article or your dissertation. In moments like that, it can be helpful to make use of reference management software, which eliminates some of the stress and hassle of referencing correctly.

At St George’s, we support RefWorks, a web-based application which supports you in collecting, storing and managing your references. As part of RefWorks, you can also make use of RefWorks Citation Manager (RCM) which is a Microsoft Word Add-in. With RCM you can create citations and bibliographies within your documents.

While RefWorks is a really useful tool for students and staff at St George’s, it requires learning how to use it before tempting to get started on your references. This is where our new RefWorks video series comes in handy.

RefWorks video series

We have created 9 short videos that guide you through the process of using RefWorks. You can find the entire series on our YouTube channel and on Canvas, as part of our RefWorks unit. If you want to get a quick overview, check out this video.

RefWorks can be a big help in getting your references done quickly, but you will find that there are mistakes in your references. You are responsible for making sure that when you submit your assignment all your citations and your bibliography are correct, so do double-check each reference in line with Cite Them Right, the correct version of Harvard to use at St George’s.

If you are new to referencing, work your way through our referencing unit on Canvas before you start using RefWorks.

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Further help

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by emailing liaison@sgul.ac.uk with any questions about RefWorks that you might have. While RefWorks is generally straight-forward to use, at times users experiences issues for example with creating an account. We can help with you with that.

If you prefer getting a proper training session on RefWorks, please visit our website to sign up for a session that suits you. Our RefWorks training is part of a number of generic training sessions, including literature searching for your dissertation.

We also have a Libguide on RefWorks and reference management, which gives you a quick overview of what you need to know to sign up and add references to RefWorks. Our Libguide also includes helpful screenshots if you get stuck and information on Legacy RefWorks.

Ten tips for adjusting to remote learning

In this post, the Learning Development team, who run the Academic Success Centre and Study+ on Canvas, offer advice on adjusting to remote learning and continuing to engage with your course in the era of social distancing.

The last five weeks have seen unprecedented changes to life as we know it, with inevitable disruption to your studies and daily routine. Teaching, learning and assessment are now continuing remotely, and as we all shift to this new way of working, it is necessary to reflect on and adapt our study practices to fit with the new environment.

This post is adapted from the Study+ resource on Tips for Distance Learning. Log into Canvas for more information, or contact Rosie MacLachlan at rmaclach@sgul.ac.uk with any queries

1. Get organised, within reason 

It’s easy to think that, with restrictions on socialising and being outdoors, we’ll now all have lots of extra time on our hands and you’ll find it easy to smash through all your work. Maybe you will, but don’t fall into the trap of expecting too much of yourself and then getting demoralised and demotivated if you can’t meet unreasonable expectations. Be gentle with yourself, and acknowledge the impact anxiety and disruption can have on your work rate. Now more than, ever it is important to get organised, prioritise tasks, and ensure a healthy approach to study.

2. Plan your days 

It’s difficult when working from home but try to emulate your daily routine from before the lockdown. Treat studying as you would a job, getting up and going to sleep at your usual time on weekdays. It may be tempting to study in your pajamas, but getting washed and dressed every day will help you feel more engaged and connected to reality. In terms of what to study and when, it is important to break tasks up into manageable chunks, and set yourself achievable tasks for each (short) study session.  See the Study+ page on Organisation and Time Management for help with this. 

3. Find a dedicated study space

As far as possible, try to set up a dedicated study space in your home, and use that space only when you’re studying. This will help get you into professional mode, and create a separation between your home and study life. If this isn’t possible for you, can you follow a schedule where a space (e.g. the kitchen table) is used only for study between certain hours of the day, after which you’ll put your materials away and return the space to its usual purpose?

If you’re asked to attend an online seminar, try to do so from a private space without those you live with passing through. Try too to work from a table and chair as much as possible rather than a sofa or your bed – following the usual habits of professional life will help you engage better in these unusual circumstances, and help to prevent stiffness and backache.

Photo of person studying at a desk.
Find a dedicated study space

4. Don’t try to study through your mobile!

As more of your learning moves online, it will be important to ensure you have access to the best computer set up you can manage. A good internet connection and up-to-date computer/laptop/ tablet are essential – speak to St George’s Learning Technology Services (LTS@sgul.ac.uk) if you have any concerns about this. Although it may be tempting to access Canvas etc. through your phone, such a small device is not conducive to good learning or healthy posture, so please try to avoid this. If possible, it’s also worth investing in a USB headphones and microphone set, as these make the online experience more immersive, removing distractions and thereby improving concentration.

5. Take regular breaks

Most people can’t concentrate on one task uninterruptedly for more than about half an hour. Don’t expect yourself to be able to work non-stop from 9 to 5, it’s important to take regular breaks. The Pomodoro Technique utilises principles from educational psychology to recommend concentrated study period of 25 minutes at a time, followed by a 5 minute break, with a longer break every two hours. See if this works for you – we’ve found it really helpful, particularly when struggling to get started. It’s easier to tell yourself you’re going to read a textbook for a 25-minute-stint than to sit down thinking you’ll get through the whole thing before you stand up again.

6. Aim for variety

You may find that the majority of your learning will necessarily be coming through your computer. However, staring into a screen all day every day isn’t good for anyone, and is unlikely to promote effective retention of information. Aim every day for some variety in what you’re physically doing. If you’re watching lectures or reading online, can you break this up with times of physically making notes on paper, or talking through your learning with somebody else? Many people find it easiest to synthesise their learning in a visual form, creating a mindmap or diagram of large concepts. See the ‘After’ section of our Learning From Lectures resource for examples of visual notes you could produce on scrap paper. If you haven’t already, it’s also worth reading through the Effective Study and Revision page, for ideas on how to be ‘active’ in your independent study.

Blank example of a mindmap
Try to do a mind map to consolidate your learning.

7. Talk to whoever’s around you

Learning is an inherently social activity. We learn most effectively when we’re discussing ideas with other people, asking and answering questions, and confirming understanding through debate. If there’s somebody at home who can help you with your study, ask if you can talk things through with them (they don’t need to have any prior understanding of what you’re studying) for five minutes at a time. If you can explain something clearly to somebody with no prior knowledge, that’s a sign you’ve fully understood it yourself.

8. Stay connected to your classmates

Try to stay engaged with peers on your course. It can be really helpful to impose some ‘accountability’ on yourself through agreeing targets or deadlines with peers, and then checking in regularly. For example, you could text a friend to tell them what you’re planning to study on a particular morning, and then video chat with them at lunchtime to compare notes on how the morning went (as well as having some important social downtime) – all the better if they’re working on the same topic as you. You might like to think about setting up a study group using one of the many options for online videoconferencing or chat software. Everyone should be able to access Microsoft Teams through their St George’s email address, or you could use your existing social media channels. Within any new group, it’s useful to discuss the purpose for meeting – what are your priorities and aims, and does everyone agree on these? Set small targets for each session, rather than a vague ambition to ‘do’ a whole topic. 

Stay connected

9. Be active when you study

In a face-to-face lecture, there is a time pressure for the lecturer to convey as much content as possible in only 50 minutes. When studying remotely, this time pressure doesn’t need to apply. Just as when reading an academic paper, it’s useful to pause and reflect on what you’ve read at regular intervals. When following a lecture on Panopto, aim to stop it every 10 minutes or so to ask yourself what you’ve understood from it. This is more productive than aiming to take notes as you listen, and encourages more genuine engagement. Try watching short blocks of the video, and then intersperse this with something more active: writing a summary paragraph or series of bullet points on what you’ve just learnt. Better still, write questions about what you’re still curious on – taking ownership and determining your priorities, rather than passively receiving information. If you’re using this approach, you may find there’s no need to take lecture notes at the same time as listening. Although it may take longer to keep pausing the video, you can be more confident that you’re retaining the information if you’re actively engaged with it. 

10. And finally… we’re still here for you!

While the university campus may be shut down, remember that most of your learning resources, and particularly St George’s Library, are available via remote access. You can use Hunter to access thousands of learning resources from home, or contact the library for one-to-one support from a Liaison Librarian. The Academic Success Centre, which provides one-to-one advice on study strategies, has moved to remote appointments. Click here if you’d like to book one of these. 

There is still lots of support available.

Free printing and printing tips

As you are aware since the beginning of the academic year, St George’s is piloting free printing for all students! We have looked at the printing policy in more detail and have highlighted some of the key aspects below.

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SGUL introduced a free printing pilot for the 2019/2020 academic year

Free printing is good news for anyone on a tight budget or with accessibility concerns. As more of you are making full use of the free printing however, some have raised concerns around the effects on the environment of unlimited and wasteful printing.

While the focus below is on students, your Librarians are certainly guilty of printing too much occasionally and as a result wasting paper, so we can all strive to do better in this regard.

As part of St George’s values, we are responsible and accountable for our choices and decisions. This responsibility includes considering the environmental and ethical costs of our actions, such as excessive and/or unnecessary printing and photocopying. Even though it might not cost you any money, if you want to decrease your environmental footprint, consider how printing depletes natural resources and causes damage. To produce paper a large amount of energy, water and chemicals are needed and paper production causes liquid, solid and gaseous waste, some of which is hazardous.

printing pic

Printing dos and don’ts

Do

  • Ask yourself if you really need a paper copy or is a digital version enough? Keep in mind that the apps you have access to as part of Office 365 (including Word) allow you to annotate and mark up documents and easily share your comments with others.
  • Scan the documents you need instead of photocopying them. All printers/photocopiers devices allow you to scan easily and you can send the documents to yourself via email.
  • Reduce the number of pages you are printing by changing the font size (for most people size 10 is still easily legible) or decreasing margins and spaces between lines. Fonts like Times New Roman use less space than other fonts.
  • Double-check your document includes final changes, edits and amendments before printing so you only ever print the final version.
  • Use the preview to ensure the formatting and layout of your document is correct before printing. Preview also allows you to ensure the document fits on to the smallest number of pages, especially important for spreadsheets.
  • Photocopy or print two pages per sheet if possible.
  • Use apps like OneDrive, Google Docs or Dropbox to share your work with others instead of printing and sharing physical copies.

Don’t

  • Print copies of important documents. Make sure to back up your work securely (using OneDrive which is part of Office 365, Canvas or even Google Drive) rather than printing copies of your work. Most of your courses will only ask you to submit your assignments digitally.
  • Default to printing Powerpoint slides for all your lectures. Most contain little text and they can be full of graphics. Instead consider writing your notes electronically alongside the slides, by making use of a tool like OneNote for example.
  • Print out Powerpoint slides using the one slide per page option, if you can avoid it. You can generally greatly reduce the number of pages you need to print by selecting to have more slides per page.
  • Reprint the whole document if you only made minor changes or changed details on one page. Remember to only ever print the exact pages you need to replace.
  • Print using the “one sided” option. All SGUL computers default to printing double-sided and you are encouraged to stick to that.

If you have printed unnecessarily and don’t need the pages, remember to recycle the unwanted pages by using the correct (blue) recycling bins, located throughout the Library and computer rooms.

As you can see there are many ways in which you can take full advantage of St George’s free printing pilot scheme while at the same time ensuring that you safeguard the environment, by not wasting precious natural resources and creating unnecessary waste. If we all follow the guidelines above, we also make sure that the University continues to provide free printing to students beyond this academic year as we collectively manage this privilege responsibly and are aware of the consequences of our actions.


We have created a Libguide called All you need to know about printing, where you can find more information on how to print, including from home, your own device and USB. For more general information on how to use the Library, have a look at our Libguide – Library Essentials, which covers printing as well.

 

Now on Canvas: Referencing essentials quiz

New to academic study and confused about referencing? You are not alone! It is understandable to feel overwhelmed by how to reference correctly, especially if you are not used to the referencing system used at SGUL.


As we know that referencing can be a little dull and feel overly complicated, we have put together a quiz, which covers the basics and gives you some practice using Cite Them Right. The quiz is available on the Library module on Canvas. You can find it by navigating to “Quizzes” (part of the menu on the left-hand side). You can also access the quiz here.

It is intended for beginners. The first few questions cover some of the basics of why and how we reference. The rest allow you to learn how to do in-text citations and references correctly. The quiz is also suitable for intermediates, so any second-year or third-year students who feel like they could do with a refresher should also give it a go.

Referencing at SGUL

Here at St George’s we use a version of Harvard, a common referencing style, based on the guidance in a book called Cite Them Right by Pears and Shields (2019). The book is currently in its 11th edition and there is a useful accompanying website too. As there are many different versions of Harvard, you can ensure you are referencing correctly by only following the guidance in Cite Them Right or resources produced by St George’s Library.

Cite Them Right

This website is available to you through SGUL and allows you to see at a glance how to reference books, journal articles and websites. The publisher even has included an example of a NICE guideline. If you are not using a University PC or the Wifi, you have to login with your SGUL login details. You can find Cite Them Right through Hunter and most Libguides include a link to the website too. For those of you who prefer to use a physical copy, we have Cite Them Right (2019) as a book available for you to borrow in the Library.

Help available

If you are still feeling unsure about how to reference correctly, please email us at liaison@sgul.ac.uk. The Research Enquiries Desk, located in the Library next to the silent study areas, is staffed every weekday 11 am to 2 pm with Librarians who can help you with your referencing dilemmas. For those of you who are interested in using reference management software, we have a RefWorks libguide and we will be running training sessions on RefWorks in the new year. Check out our training pages for dates.


If you are interested receiving updates from the Library, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Introducing…New RefWorks!

You might be about to embark on a research project, perhaps a dissertation, a case study or longer assignment which requires you to collect, store, manage and use a large amount of references. Or you might be a second-year student realising that as you are progressing through your degree you are expected to use more references. If you are, there is no need to panic as there are some handy tools available to help you manage all this information.


Proquest RefWorks logo

There are many different types of reference management software, each with its own special features. In practice, whichever tool you use, it can substantially increase the speed and efficiency with which you manage your references.

Here at SGUL, we support RefWorks, which is perfectly suited to those preparing longer pieces of academic writing. This term we have moved away from using Legacy RefWorks to (new) Refworks!  RefWorks is freely available to all SGUL students and staff. We also provide training to people who want to learn how to use RefWorks effectively and efficiently. There is a lot of online support available too, like our recently updated Libguide.

What is RefWorks?

RefWorks is one of the most popular reference management applications and it allows users to:

  • collect references – no need to type details in manually
  • store references
  • organise references
  • link to full text, web pages and documents
  • cite your references and create bibliographies in different styles

How does it work?

Unlike other reference management tools, RefWorks is a web-based software, so no need to download anything!

Go to http://refworks.proquest.com and click on “Use login from my institution”. Then, under Shibboleth find or search for “St George’s, University of London”. All you need is your SGUL username and password to log in.

Use login from my institution

The first time you do this you have to fill in some information about yourself and then you’re all set to start collecting references.

There are multiple ways to populate your RefWorks account with reference data. Depending on the search tool or database(s) you are using, there are different ways to add references:

  • Direct export from a database
  • Downloading and importing a text file from a database
  • Drag and drop PDFs into RefWorks
  • Adding references manually
  • Use the ‘Save to RefWorks’ browser extension

For more information on how each of these options work, have a look at our RefWorks Libguide.

Be sure to always check if the information that was added is correct and complete! As you start adding more references, you will want to organise them so that they stay manageable. You can for example assign references to different folders and subfolders. You can also deduplicate them, if you are in the habit of adding big batches of references in one go.

Top tips

  • Quality check your references by looking at citation view, that way you can see what details are missing. Make sure to select Harvard – SGUL & FHSCE and save this as the default setting to ensure that you are using the right citation style. It is a good idea to double-check your reference in citation view immediately after adding it, so you can compare it to the original document without having to retrieve it.
Citation View
  • Refworks can generate an in-text citation in the correct style for you and it can create a bibliography too. Just click on the “Create Bibliography” icon at the top of the page. Follow the guidance on the screen and copy/paste what you need, done!
  • Much easier and more effective is using Write-N-Cite which is a small separate programme you can download which connects your Refworks account to Word. An equivalent is available for Word on Mac devices as well. On SGUL computers, this programme is built into Word so no need to download anything!

Legacy RefWorks vs (New) RefWorks

The new RefWorks is intuitive to use and has better functionality than Legacy RefWorks. However, if you have used RefWorks before, you will have created a Legacy RefWorks account. If you are interested in migrating your references from the old to the new version, please be aware that it is currently not possible to edit documents in new RefWorks if they have previously been used in Legacy RefWorks.

We recommend that you continue to use your Legacy account until you have finished the projects you are currently working on. More information on migrating from Legacy RefWorks can be found here.

Referencing styles at St George’s

Screen capture of Cite Them Right website

We have also updated our guidelines around using the Harvard referencing style, which is the referencing style used across St George’s, in line with the recent new edition of Cite Them Right (2019). Although the new edition doesn’t contain big changes, it includes a lot more examples, including of a NICE guideline and a systematic review published on the Cochrane Library. For more information, have a look at our user help sheet for Harvard.

If your lecturer requires you to use the Vancouver style, you can have a look at this help sheet. Vancouver at SGUL is based on Citing medicine: The NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers (2007) by Patrias.

Further help

Make sure to have a look at our Libguide on RefWorks and Reference Management and check out RefWorks’ own YouTube tutorials.

Many of you will receive RefWorks training as part of your degree, but if you want to get ahead or missed out on training, get in touch by emailing liaison@sgul.ac.uk to book a session with us in which we cover the basics of using RefWorks.


For general research and referencing questions, be sure to make use of the Research Enquiries Desk (RED) located in the Library and staffed every weekday from 11 am to 2 pm.

September Update

Whether you’re back in Tooting or still a little further afield, the Library has a range of help and resources that you can connect to from (almost) anywhere, helping you get a headstart on your studies for the new semester.

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Access online resources with your SGUL login

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Use the new-look Hunter to search for e-books and online journal articles that you can access from anywhere with an internet connection.

  • To find e-books, drop down to ‘Books and more’ before you search, then use the filter options to narrow your results to Online Resources.

E-book search

  • Search in ‘Articles and more’ to find online journal articles and similar material.

To open the full e-book or article, follow the links under ‘View Online’ and enter your SGUL login and password. You can find more help in our PDF guide to accessing e-resources from offsite.

For more advice about finding resources in Hunter, see the Hunter FAQs.


More online resources, including Acland’s Video Atlas of Human Anatomy, BMJ Best Practice and DynaMed Plus, can be found in the Databases A-Z.

  • Find a resource in the A-Z list then follow the link for offsite access
  • Enter your SGUL login and password to access

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Find more information about online resources and apps in the Useful Apps section of our Library Essentials LibGuide.

Forgotten/Expired password?

Use this link to reset it from offsite.

Note: you must have already set up an external email address and if you don’t receive a reset email, check your junk mail folder.


Contact the Library for help

The Library remains open 7 days a week, with 24 hour opening returning from Monday 17th September.

The Library Helpdesk is staffed as usual from 8am to 6pm every weekday. Call in and see us, or phone us on 020 8725 5466.

Helpdesk iconRED icon

The Research Enquiries Desk can help with more in-depth queries about finding resources, referencing and more. Drop in or phone 020 8725 5514 during the RED’s staffed hours (see below).

Alternatively, email a query to liaison@sgul.ac.uk and a liaison librarian will get back to you.

Summer From Sep 17th
Library Opening Hours Mon to Fri: 8am – 11pm

Sat and Sun: 9am – 9pm

24 hours

Library Helpdesk staffed Mon to Fri: 8am – 6pm Mon to Fri: 8am – 6pm
Research Enquiries Desk staffed Mon to Fri: 12pm – 2pm* Mon to Fri: 11am – 2pm* from Sep 11th

*subject to change

Find more information about these and other services – including support with IT and academic writing – in the Getting help section of our Library Essentials LibGuide.

Saving Your MyiLibrary ebook notes before the Ebook Central Upgrade

Ebook_Central

 

On 21st March all e-books on the Myilibrary platform will move to a new platform called Ebook Central. Unless you save any notes you have made in MyiLibrary ebooks before 21st March you will lose them after the upgrade.

Here’s how to save any notes you have made in MyiLibrary ebooks you have read online (not in books you’ve downloaded).

Step 1: Log in to MyiLibrary.

Step 2: Select My Account at the top of the home page, then select Notes from the drop-down menu. You will see the list of books you have added annotated notes to.

Step 3: Select the titles from which you want to preserve your notes.

Step 4: Choose to either print your notes or email them to yourself. If you choose to email your notes, you will receive an HTML-based message from notes@ingramdigital.com that includes the book titles, the page numbers associated with your notes, and the note titles. Also included will be a link to each note page in MyiLibrary, although these links will not be valid once the Ebook Central upgrade is complete.

For further information contact the library at liaison@sgul.ac.uk or visit the Research Enquiries desk from 11am – 4pm Monday to Friday in the library.

Quick Look: Forest: Stay Focused

We’re very happy to have a guest review by MBBS student and Learning Advocate, Ele Clancey. If you are interested in reviewing an app for the blog, please email liaison@sgul.ac.uk.

Quick Look Post

Name: Forest: Stay Focused

Forest app logo, image of plant in soilPublisher: Forestapp.cc

Devices: Available to download on smartphones, android, windows phone and IOS. Can also be downloaded via Chrome and Firefox as apps/add-ons.  The Android app version was tested on a Nexus tablet.

Available from: Play Store, Apple Store, Chrome, Firefox.

Price: Android version – free, there are in app purchases. IOS version – £1.99

Type of information: Forest helps you to put down your phone and focus on your work.

For: Anyone who wants help staying focused on a task.

  • Main pros – you get to choose how long your break is following a 25 minute study session
  • Main cons – on the free version, there are ads each time you have grown a tree

Ever find yourself taking a quick phone break, only to look up 20 minutes later still scrolling through Facebook? Then Forest could be the app for you.

Forest is an app for those of us that need a bit of help staying focused during a study session. You simply plant a seed when you’re ready to start working and in the next 25 minutes it grows from a sapling to a mature tree. There’s one catch – if you click away from the app, the tree dies.

This app is a simple way of getting an uninterrupted 25 minutes of work done at a time. You can choose in the settings whether the tree dies if you click away from the screen. This is useful if you download it on a tablet, and need to use your device for studying. However, I would suggest that downloading it on your phone and selecting the option where you can’t click away from the screen yields best results.

Of course, the aim is to grow not just a tree, but a forest each day. You are able to track your progress and earn points for the number of trees you grow. Once you reach enough points, different kinds of trees become available to you. While you’re studying, motivational sentences scroll across the top of the tree encouraging you to keep going – it may surprise you how many lapses of concentration you have!

 

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Unlike other time management apps this one doesn’t give you a prescribed break, which means you get to choose how much time you take off and just plant another seed when you’re ready to get back to work. Some people may prefer the structure of a timed break, but I enjoyed being flexible with my time off.

This app was very easy to download and use, and I didn’t find any glitches with it. As I downloaded the free version on my Nexus tablet, there are adverts that appear each time you grow a tree. I found this a bit distracting, but it means that the app comes at no cost to the user.

Overall, I would say this app could be a useful tool for those of us who struggle to concentrate sometimes. I especially liked that the number of study sessions you do are related to the size of forest you grow, which motivated me to stay focused and accumulate trees.

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If you are an SGUL student interested in getting more information and advice about time management, visit the Study+ time and task management page on Moodle (SGUL log in required)

All posts on this blog are subject to the our mobile resources disclaimer, please take the time to read it carefully.

Quick Look: Medscape App

Quick Look Post

medscape logo

Name:  Medscape App

Publisher: WebMD

Devices: iOS 9.0 or later. Android 4.0.3 and up.   Sive 28.7MB

Available from: Apple’s App Store  and Google Play

Price: Free

Type of information:
This app is designed to support clinicians with all of their professional needs, including decision-making support at the point-of-care, medical news and perspectives from thought leaders across medicine.

For: doctors, medical students, nurses and other healthcare professionals for clinical information.

  • Main pros – Authored and reviewed by a team of 7,700 doctors and pharmacists from leading medical centres to ensure that all content is current, evidence-based, and written in a format designed to support physicians in practice.
  • Main cons – Some information will be more applicable to American users than British users, so use with caution.

The Medscape app can be used to look up the most current drug prescribing and safety information.  It allows access to 129 medical calculators covering formulas, scales and classifications, and provides reviews of the latest information about 4400 diseases and conditions.  It also provides detailed written and video instructions for over 1000 clinical procedures.
The app allows you to search the Medline database for journal articles, and provides updates for the latest news impacting your speciality.
In addition, the app offers accredited Continuing Medical Education courses for professional development.

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All posts on this blog are subject to the St George’s Library Disclaimer, please take the time to read it carefully.

Updated: Sept 2017