Student Recommended: a Guide to Mendeley

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Hafssa Anfishi, one of St George’s Learning Advocates has reviewed Mendeley, a free resource which can help you with referencing. Hafssa is in her second year of the Biomedical Science course and found Mendeley useful when completing her SSP. Select the link below to read her step-by-step guide on how to use this tool.

How to use Mendeley. A step-by-step guide by Hafssa Anfishi


A note from the library

There are many tools out there which can help you with referencing and citations. However, you should be careful that they are referencing according to the standard required by your course. Don’t forget that this is something that you will be assessed on. You are always responsible for double-checking your references to ensure that they are correct.

St George’s Library provides access to a tool called RefWorks which can also help with referencing and reference management. We can offer training and support in using this resource as well as general referencing support. For more information, consult the help page of the library website or contact the library.

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Book review: Writing Essays by Pictures a workbook by Alke Gröppel-Wegener

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Learning Advocate Grace Pike’s review of Writing Essays by Pictures

ksAlke Gröppel-Wegener aims to make essay-writing fun. The book helps students by using bright colours, metaphors, visual analogies, tasks that include making reusable resources and encouraging exploratory writing. She starts from the beginnings of writing an essay to the end process of using feedback from your tutor. Visual analogies are present in each chapter in order to explain step-by-step the processes of research and writing at university and are especially aimed at those students who have not attended university before and are beginners to academic research.

Strengths

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Example of a visual analogy explaining ‘The Assembly Approach’

This book starts from the very basics of writing essays by breaking the stages of essay writing down, and explains terms along the way. It also explains that you do not have to use the visual analogies; you can use the book more flexibly in your own way. For those who shy away from essay writing or get bored of self-help essay writing guides, this book uses bright text and pictures to keep readers interested. There are tips to keep students focussed on the task at hand and throughout the book these tips and ideas are referred back to. There are clear explanations of what primary and secondary research is which can be a problem for some students during school and transitioning to university. When starting university and throughout their studies, some students can be unsure of how to take effective notes and this book presents innovative tips on note-taking. Group and reflective study is encouraged and this may be good for tutors as a teaching resource. There is also a link to additional tips and tricks on WordPress.

Weaknesses

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Orange and purple text and illustration.

Having shown the book to several academics and then reading the book, we all found the colour scheme and font colour to be lurid and difficult to read. Those who are not starting university and have written essays before may find this to be a patronising book as it is very basic. The visual analogies and metaphors are stretched and sometimes the images can break the text up too much and can be irrelevant.

In my own experience I have found that a scientific essay structure can vary from course to course and year to year so it may not always be suitable to use all the tips from this book. Having read the book in an hour it does make me wonder whether a student writing an essay would have time to do all the tasks along with the essay to make the whole experience effective. One particular chapter has a “sources address book or casefile” to write in for all the sources you might want to use in your bibliography or reference list. This may not be relevant to students at St George’s, as many students now use their devices to take notes and keep a track of sources. Some essay tips are ideas that should have been covered in school or college at GCSE level.

Conclusion

The content of the book may be useful for students who are unfamiliar with essay writing, and it may work as a refresher  as it covers all the essentials. The use of visual analogies, and hands on tasks may appeal to some students. However, it can be visually hard to read due to the colour choice. Students who are familiar with essays, and tutors may find it is aimed at too low a level to be useful.

Review by Grace Pike T year


Writing Essays by Pictures by Groppel-Wegener, Alke  is available in the library collection.
Call number: PE1471 GRO

Help with writing and structuring is available from Rosie MacLachlan in Academic Skills Centre or Marcy Kahan, Royal Literary Fund Fellow. More information on Study+ in Moodle (SGUL login required).

Become a Learning Advocate and earn St George’s Award Points

Students studying

What does a learning advocate do?

Working with Ka-Ming Pang (Librarian) or Janette Myers (Senior Lecturer in Student Learning) you will:

  • Promote learning activities to your peers
  • Review or evaluate learning resources and activities
  • Design learning materials

For example: write a review of an information skills session or a Study+ Resource, livetweet a workshop or training session, take part in a Library or Study+ focus group or a survey.

Is this part of the George’s Award?

Yes it is. The number of points depends on the level of involvement and time needed. See the Study+ Learning Advocates page in Moodle for the list of possible activities with allocated George’s Award points: bit.ly/sgullearn

How to get involved

Contact Janette Myers or Ka-Ming Pang (depending on the activity) who will register you as a Learning Advocate and give you guidance on how to take part.