News

Writing a Dissertation Without the Library: A Guide

It’s getting to that time of year where students usually inhabit the library every day, furiously typing away at their dissertations. But how do you go about writing your diss when there’s no library to go to? Here’s a quick guide with some tips about how to work from home and some useful resources for researching online.

MINDSET

You might have all the books you need, but if you can’t get into the right mindset for working it can be really difficult. Working from home isn’t easy for some people, especially if you don’t have much space. Here are a couple of tips that you could try, which might make working from home a bit easier.

Create a zone: Creating a specific workspace, whether it’s on a desk, a section of the kitchen table or even in the shed, can really help you get into the right mindset. If you have a space that’s dedicated entirely to your work, it’ll help you to focus.

Effective working: Write a to-do list and set yourself goals for your work. This will help you to feel motivated and to give you a sense of productivity and achievement in your work.

Set a routine: It’s good to try and work at the same time every day to get yourself into a routine. It doesn’t matter if this is in the morning, in the evening, or split across the day – everyone has different responsibilities and commitments, but try to give yourself set hours to work, that way, you’ll feel more productive and organised.

Be kind to yourself: It’s a difficult time! If you’re having a hard time working one day, don’t be too harsh on yourself. If you’re really not in the right mindset, consider stopping for the day and trying again tomorrow. Be kind to yourself, you can’t expect yourself to always work as hard as you would under more normal circumstances.

RESOURCES

Whilst we can’t get to the library right now, there’s plenty of ways to get online access to resources. The library website is a resource in itself, so make sure you get familiar with it.

For example, have you ever emailed your subject librarian? Subject librarians are specialists in your subject and can help you with a range of library issues. They can help you to: find and use information; evaluate academic resources; research a topic; avoid plagiarism; reference correctly and use referencing management tools like EndNote. All the subject librarians are friendly and helpful, and they are experts, so they’ll be able to tell you everything the library has on your particular topic. This link will help you find out who your subject librarian is so you can email them. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/subject-support/

The library also has a super handy tool called ‘Recommended databases’. You can enter in your subject to get discipline specific results, or you can search the list to try and find the particular database you’re looking for. There’s hundreds of databases here that you might not have even heard of. It’s a great way to explore new resources! https://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/find/databases/

Many providers are now offering extra or free services due to the COVID-19 outbreak – you can find a list of new services we have access to here: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/find/free/

If you already know what book you need, but it’s a physical copy sat gathering dust in the library, or if the library doesn’t own a copy, you can request them to purchase an e-version. It’s a super easy process to request a book, and if it’ll be useful for others, they’ll probably get it in. To request a book, follow this link: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/find/suggest-purchase/

There are also plenty of other websites online that can offer you access to books or help you with your research. Here’s a list of some of them:

Oxford Bibliographies https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/ (sign in with institutional login)
Oxford Bibliographies is a really useful tool to find new texts, papers and criticism to read. You can search for a specific topic, such as ‘Victorian Literature’ or ‘Feminism’, and it’ll break it down into a general overview, sub-topics and recommended texts. It’s a great resource for finding new sources.

HathiTrust https://www.hathitrust.org/

Cambridge Core https://www.cambridge.org/core/ (sign in with institutional login)

Project Muse https://muse.jhu.edu/ (sign in with institutional login)

Archive.org https://archive.org/
Archive.org has loads of texts uploaded, it’s particularly useful if you’re looking for published texts pre-1900. Top tip though – navigating archive.org’s search tool is not particularly easy, it’s probably better to search through Google by typing in the book and “archive.org” for instance, search: “archive.org” Morte Darthur

Project Gutenberg https://www.gutenberg.org/
Project Gutenberg has over 60,000 free eBooks online.

Google Books https://books.google.com/
Google Books might offer you a preview of some pages, and sometimes even the whole book!

Oxford Scholarly Editions https://www.oxfordscholarlyeditions.com/ (sign in with institutional login)

Google Scholar https://scholar.google.com/

Web of Science https://wok.mimas.ac.uk/

MORE HELP

If you’re still struggling academically, get in touch with your personal tutor or dissertation supervisor. They’ll be able to give you some tips about researching from home. Don’t forget, everyone is trying to work from home at the moment, they’ll understand!

digital education office logo

Introduction to Blackboard for administrative and support staff

Blackboard is the University of Bristol’s centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Blackboard provides a range of tools for communication, collaboration, and assessment as well as offering an online area to share resources like course notes and reading lists. This workshop will provide an introduction to the key features of Blackboard most used by administrative and support staff, including:

  • Course setup and life cycle
  • Enrolment
  • Adding content such as files, folders and web links
  • Using communication tools e.g. email and announcements
  • Online submission
  • Common student and staff queries

Pre-requisites

This course is intended for administrative or support staff who are new to Blackboard or wish to refresh their knowledge.

Book here.

digital education office logo

Introduction to Blackboard for academic and research staff

Blackboard is the University of Bristol’s centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Blackboard provides a range of tools for communication, collaboration, and assessment as well as offering an online area to share resources like course notes and reading lists. This workshop will provide an introduction to Blackboard’s tools and features. As part of the workshop participants will build their own Blackboard course and if possible should bring materials such as reading lists, lecture notes or ideas for online activities to the workshop.

The aim of this workshop is to provide a concise overview of the tools and features of Blackboard, enable participants to create their own courses and share ideas on how Blackboard can be used to support learning and teaching based on examples from the University of Bristol.

By the end of the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Identify key features of the Blackboard VLE
  • Design and create a Blackboard course that includes communication, collaboration and assessment tools
  • Discuss some of the key issues associated with online learning

Pre-requisites

This course is intended for all academic and research staff who are new to Blackboard or wish to refresh their knowledge. Participants are encouraged to bring materials they wish to publish online (Word documents, web pages, Powerpoints, etc.) to work with during the session.

Contact information

To book, please see our booking form on Eventbrite. Introduction to Blackboard for academic and research staff.
 
For further information please contact us.
digital education office logo

Introduction to Blackboard for academic and research staff

Blackboard is the University of Bristol’s centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Blackboard provides a range of tools for communication, collaboration, and assessment as well as offering an online area to share resources like course notes and reading lists. This workshop will provide an introduction to Blackboard’s tools and features. As part of the workshop participants will build their own Blackboard course and if possible should bring materials such as reading lists, lecture notes or ideas for online activities to the workshop.

The aim of this workshop is to provide a concise overview of the tools and features of Blackboard, enable participants to create their own courses and share ideas on how Blackboard can be used to support learning and teaching based on examples from the University of Bristol.

By the end of the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Identify key features of the Blackboard VLE
  • Design and create a Blackboard course that includes communication, collaboration and assessment tools
  • Discuss some of the key issues associated with online learning

Pre-requisites

This course is intended for all academic and research staff who are new to Blackboard or wish to refresh their knowledge. Participants are encouraged to bring materials they wish to publish online (Word documents, web pages, Powerpoints, etc.) to work with during the session.

Contact information

To book, please see our booking form on Eventbrite. Introduction to Blackboard for academic and research staff.
 
For further information please contact us.
digital education office logo

Introduction to Blackboard for administrative and support staff

Blackboard is the University of Bristol’s centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Blackboard provides a range of tools for communication, collaboration, and assessment as well as offering an online area to share resources like course notes and reading lists. This workshop will provide an introduction to the key features of Blackboard most used by administrative and support staff, including:

  • Course setup and life cycle
  • Enrolment
  • Adding content such as files, folders and web links
  • Using communication tools e.g. email and announcements
  • Online submission
  • Common student and staff queries

Pre-requisites

This course is intended for administrative or support staff who are new to Blackboard or wish to refresh their knowledge.

Book here.

Teaching Stories

The Primary Experience: What Can We Learn about Cross-Institutional Changes?

The following post was written by Dr. Isabel Hopwood-Stephens, a TESTA Researcher.

As one of the TESTA researchers attached to BILT, I’m going to be involved in collecting and analysing data about Bristol undergraduates’ experience of assessment. The aim of TESTA is to provide an evidence-based starting point for discussions among Programme Teams about how students’ experience of assessment might be improved, thereby increasing their engagement with their study and satisfaction with the course.

This is done by sharing any issues identified in the analysis and providing ideas which are likely to involve teaching staff making changes to aspects of the assessment experience; for example, offering detailed verbal feedback on a draft of an essay, which the student can use to improve it, before the essay is submitted for grading, or explicitly discussing and exemplifying the marking criteria with students to help them internalise standards.

Having a good idea about how to improve students’ experience of assessment is one thing, though; making the required modifications to working habits to enact those ideas is another. My recent research into the factors that enable or inhibit changes to assessment practice among primary school teachers has provided some interesting pointers.

As part of my study into primary teachers changing their assessment practice, I looked at the main vehicle for teachers’ professional development in primary schools: the staff meeting. I was expecting to find that staff meetings with particular characteristics – where teachers could discuss how they worked, were encouraged to raise questions, and where the focus on learning was clear – would be significantly linked to subsequent reports of school-wide changes to their assessment practice.

Instead, I found out that the characteristics of the wider workplace seemed more influential. Teachers who felt that their workplaces encouraged collaborative, cross-departmental working and innovation were more likely to also report school-wide changes to how they carried out assessment.

This made me think that the kind of professional learning that helps primary teachers to change the ways that they do their job takes place during the wider working day, through ongoing conversation with colleagues, rather than within the confines of a staff meeting. When I looked at communication style between teaching colleagues, I also found that the activities which school-wide changes to teaching practice seemed to entail – negotiation and agreement of shared goals; reflection upon and review of progress; sharing of best practice; questioning and clarification of aims – were underpinned by an open and dynamic communication style that facilitated the involvement of all in discussion and decision-making. This research was conducted with primary teachers in state-maintained primary schools, a working environment which we might consider somewhat removed from the more selective and purposeful atmosphere of a university. However, it will be interesting to see whether the characteristics of the working environment and the interpersonal communication style experienced by academic staff plays a role in enabling programme-wide changes to aspects of practice as a result of participating in TESTA.

digital education office logo

Introduction to Blackboard for academic and research staff

Blackboard is the University of Bristol’s centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Blackboard provides a range of tools for communication, collaboration, and assessment as well as offering an online area to share resources like course notes and reading lists. This workshop will provide an introduction to Blackboard’s tools and features. As part of the workshop participants will build their own Blackboard course and if possible should bring materials such as reading lists, lecture notes or ideas for online activities to the workshop.

The aim of this workshop is to provide a concise overview of the tools and features of Blackboard, enable participants to create their own courses and share ideas on how Blackboard can be used to support learning and teaching based on examples from the University of Bristol.

By the end of the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Identify key features of the Blackboard VLE
  • Design and create a Blackboard course that includes communication, collaboration and assessment tools
  • Discuss some of the key issues associated with online learning

Pre-requisites

This course is intended for all academic and research staff who are new to Blackboard or wish to refresh their knowledge. Participants are encouraged to bring materials they wish to publish online (Word documents, web pages, Powerpoints, etc.) to work with during the session.

Contact information

To book, please see our booking form on Eventbrite. Introduction to Blackboard for academic and research staff.
 
For further information please contact us.
digital education office logo

Introduction to Blackboard for administrative and support staff

Blackboard is the University of Bristol’s centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Blackboard provides a range of tools for communication, collaboration, and assessment as well as offering an online area to share resources like course notes and reading lists. This workshop will provide an introduction to the key features of Blackboard most used by administrative and support staff, including:

  • Course setup and life cycle
  • Enrolment
  • Adding content such as files, folders and web links
  • Using communication tools e.g. email and announcements
  • Online submission
  • Common student and staff queries

Pre-requisites

This course is intended for administrative or support staff who are new to Blackboard or wish to refresh their knowledge.

Book here

digital education office logo

Introduction to Blackboard for academic and research staff

Blackboard is the University of Bristol’s centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Blackboard provides a range of tools for communication, collaboration, and assessment as well as offering an online area to share resources like course notes and reading lists. This workshop will provide an introduction to Blackboard’s tools and features. As part of the workshop participants will build their own Blackboard course and if possible should bring materials such as reading lists, lecture notes or ideas for online activities to the workshop.

The aim of this workshop is to provide a concise overview of the tools and features of Blackboard, enable participants to create their own courses and share ideas on how Blackboard can be used to support learning and teaching based on examples from the University of Bristol.

By the end of the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Identify key features of the Blackboard VLE
  • Design and create a Blackboard course that includes communication, collaboration and assessment tools
  • Discuss some of the key issues associated with online learning

Pre-requisites

This course is intended for all academic and research staff who are new to Blackboard or wish to refresh their knowledge. Participants are encouraged to bring materials they wish to publish online (Word documents, web pages, Powerpoints, etc.) to work with during the session.

Contact information

To book, please see our booking form on Eventbrite. Introduction to Blackboard for academic and research staff.
 
For further information please contact us.
digital education office logo

Introduction to Blackboard for administrative and support staff

Blackboard is the University of Bristol’s centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Blackboard provides a range of tools for communication, collaboration, and assessment as well as offering an online area to share resources like course notes and reading lists. This workshop will provide an introduction to the key features of Blackboard most used by administrative and support staff, including:

  • Course setup and life cycle
  • Enrolment
  • Adding content such as files, folders and web links
  • Using communication tools e.g. email and announcements
  • Online submission
  • Common student and staff queries

Pre-requisites

This course is intended for administrative or support staff who are new to Blackboard or wish to refresh their knowledge.