Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘research

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In our last week in the mini library (Phoebe Walters Room) I thought it was a good chance to reflect on the culture and ethos behind the LRC at Hillcroft.

Librarians have high ideals which explains why there are so many rules and strategies:

  • always use the self-checkout machine,
  • return books on time even if there isn’t a fine,
  • don’t make notes in the margin of books,
  • search by surname of author,
  • don’t rely on Google.

Nancy Graham (a librarian from the London School of Economics) brought up the important point back in a summer workshop. It might appear that we are trying to turn students into mini-librarians. Using the LRC shouldn’t be a chore or restrictive. You don’t need to wear a librarian’s hat all the time (except if you’ve a wish to become a librarian). We’re here to provide and help you find good information. Say you want to find a productivity tip or a more informed research method. Bingo! LRC to the rescue!

There are times and places to think more librarian-y. Evaluative, investigative, organised, caring, responsible, imaginative. But don’t take our word for it. What words would you use to describe thinking more critically? Does the LRC help you get in the right mindset and find information?

 

 

Cancer books

Last week, a gene breakthrough for breast cancer was reported in the media. NHS Choices expands on the details of this research which was originally published in the scientific journal Nature.

This large study was conducted by British scientists but funding came from a number of sources across the world. It involved 560 people with breast cancer with scientists comparing the DNA from their cancer cells with DNA from their surrounding normal cells. They isolated 93 genes that if they mutated, could make normal cells become cancerous.

This was a laboratory study, hopefully leading to a better understanding of the genetic mutations and their causes and in the much longer term, targeted personalised treatments for breast cancer. Doctors and scientists believe that through limiting alcohol, keeping physically active and maintaining body weight, the risk of breast cancer can be reduced.

To find out more about cancer, psychological support for cancer sufferers and personal stories of people with cancer, explore these items on the web and the LRC catalogue:

Oxford Dictionary of Science 6th edn. (2010) by Daintith and Martin

Advanced Biology (2000) by Roberts, Reiss and Monger

In the body of the world: a memoir of cancer and connection (2013) by Ensler

Gratitude (2015) by Sacks

Health Psychology 5th edn. (2012) by Ogden and also as an ebook

Cancer Research UK

We mostly turn to Google when in need of a piece of information.

What is the date for the next bank holiday? (factual information) Who is my MP? (current information)…What is the definition of psychology (subject specific information)?

What did people do before Google? Often they went to the library quick reference shelf. This section of a library or LRC is for consultation only. The books are often heavy tomes because they include many many lists and indices. You have dictionaries, encyclopaedias, almanacs, atlases, handbooks and more. The books on the quick reference shelves aren’t intended to be read cover-to-cover. Instead you can find specific information by looking up a key word (such as date, name or place) in the index which points to where the information is in the main pages (which then may point you to other books to be found elsewhere in the library).

One key thing to bear in mind about Googling is that companies can make a lot of money when you click on the link to their website, there are some extreme examples as to how Google results are not to be trusted. Many of the links are commercial and the information may not be that relevant or authoritative enough for study purposes. Quick reference books are more reliable sources of information than most of the results that Google conjures up. This is because, in getting published regularly, they have gone through a very careful selection and editing process by experts. However you have to keep your critical thinking hat on when looking at all information sources.

Quick reference books need a bit of getting used to again. Most people have forgotten how good a reference book can be and the skills to use them. Although a bit old, a really useful book is the ‘Guide to the use of libraries and information sources’ which offers great advice on using reference books. One illuminating idea is that: “…research begins when the first encyclopaedia the student consults fails to provide the information needed to answer a question or to carry out an assignment, and it becomes necessary to consult several sources.”

We have lots of dictionaries and encyclopaedias on specific subjects with new ones arriving every day at the moment. Don’t be put off by library terminology, the quick reference shelf could be thought of as a starting shelf much like we turn to Google to answer quick queries.

Standing iPadEver felt like your overwhelmed by search results when you use Google? Then this handy article by Business Insider UK will help you sharpen up your search skills.

The article 11 Easy Tips for Finding Exactly What You Want on Google by Jillian D’Onfro gives you handy tips that enable you to be more precise in your searches and narrow down the results. It’s ideal for our Access to Humanities and Social Science students who are doing an extended research/essay project right now. The tip on using define: to get a definition of terms that you might want to use in setting your project question/hypothesis will be a good starter.

Use domains to target websites where you can find primary source material from different types of organisations such as research organisations or think tanks (.org or .org.uk), government departments (.gov or gov.uk). This can help you find information that you cannot access in your library.

Try searching with double speech marks “…”  to look for an exact phrase or term on the web for example “cultural norms”.

Narrow down the number of search results by clicking on the Search Tools link below the search box to pick material on the Internet published recently or on a particular date or between a range of dates

Google SearchTools

 

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Astrodeep by Rich Murray is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I read this article today in The Independent newspaper (available in the LRC) on women and science. According to research, women overestimate the need to be naturally brilliant to succeed in science and engineering. This conclusion follows from research carried out into why so few women do engineering, technology and science degrees and even fewer progress further into such fields. It seems women feel less confident in their instant intellectual abilities.

This is compounded by images in the media portraying geniuses like Sherlock Holmes who when faced with a problem immediately solve it and don’t need to work long and hard at it. I watched the film ‘Theory of Everything’ recently and Stephen Hawking is shown in the lab writing complex maths formulae all across the blackboard. He is just naturally brilliant at physics. But hard work is important too.

Hopefully we can find ways to encourage women and men to challenge themselves with subjects that seem out of reach. There are lots of ways to find out more about subjects before deciding to go to university. For example, University College London holds weekly free lectures in science for everyone to attend. The next one is called ‘Auroras Abound – Comparing the Northern Lights of Earth, Jupiter and Saturn’ on Friday, 23rd January. Does this kind of lecture interest you?


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