Monday, 24 February 2014

Academic Skills Session: Research Survival Guide

Our second session in the Academic Skills Programme was called 'Research Survival Guide: Mastering Your Dissertation or Project' (side-note, I think in hindsight that 'Surviving Your Dissertation' would have been a snappier title, but oh well...!)

As with the last session, I've adapted the content into three posts on the library blog:
I made a screencast of Zotero in action to show how the cite-while-you-write and bibliography export features work, now uploaded to YouTube with voiceover.

We also had a couple of handouts for this session - a Literature Search Plan worksheet to get the students thinking about the search terms they were going to use, and a Reference Template to take away and use to record their references if they favoured the pen-and-paper approach. The reference template was adapted from Meriel Royal's version, thank you Meriel for the idea!


  1. This sounds like a great series of sessions, thanks for sharing these resources! I am thinking of setting up something similar in the college I work for. I've got a few questions: Did many students attend, and how did you promote these sessions? Were they mainly targeted at first years or could anyone attend? And how did you avoid duplicating content that may have been covered in sessions organised by the faculty libraries?


    1. Hi Erika!

      There were 5 sessions in the Academic Skills Programme in total, our 2 and 3 run by academics. So the programme as a whole was promoted by us and by the Tutorial Office (adverts up on plasma screens in the library and outside the Buttery, posters all around College, tweets & blog posts).

      Our sessions both got around 10 people, I was hoping for a bit more than that (the first session in the programme 'How to Get a First' got about 40 attendees) but we were in competition with the Harry Potter themed formal hall the same night, which is obviously much more exciting haha!

      The 'Research Survival Guide' session was targeted at anyone thinking about a large-scale research project, and 'Navigating the Information Jungle' was aimed at first years, although anyone was welcome to attend.

      We decided not to worry too much about trying to avoid duplication as there is so much variation in what the different faculty & libraries do. Our library assistant Letty had recently graduated from Cambridge so she had quite a lot of input into what it would have been useful to know as a student, what she never knew until she started working in the library etc.

      This was the first year that library staff have been part of the academic skills programme so we were pleased with how it went, but there are definitely things that could be tweaked.