How To: Using Resources

What I thought I already knew

At the beginning and even mid way through the term I thought I could survive on the textbooks I had already purchased. I was getting good grades in my exams from following the essential reading list and was progressing nicely through all my modules. This then changed in the lead up to a business law essay. For this essay I realised the topic the essay was based on was covered in less than a page in the textbook. This would not be substantial information to secure me a good grade with a small, but mighty, 1,000 words to write. I immediately knew that there would be a lot more wider reading to commit to.

Don’t let book purchasing break the bank

Most readings will be online

Within the business faculty we are very fortunate to have a lot of PDF files put online with essential reading that is not included in the textbook. This was a life saver! For a start it didn’t cost me anything to access these resources. I also found I didn’t even feel slightly panicked or lost as the files were already loaded on study direct and were readily available with just one click to download the file. However, there was not a list of recommended wider reading… This was down for me to discover and decipher if it was of any use to me, something that I had not done before regarding a law essay.

The library resources are endless

The library resources seem to be in endless supply. I discovered this when searching for wider reading concerning my essay topic. It was so simple to find hundreds of books, journal articles and other online resources with one simple search. Upon typing in my essay topic, vicarious liability, a list of every resource appeared, this could be filtered and tailored to your exact requirements. Another useful tool was showing the exact location of the book and whether it was in stock, this saved a lot of time searching through the
entirety of the law section to find out I had walked past it five times or that it was actually already withdrawn.

The library will become your haven

For me I could not have even written this particular essay in anywhere but the library. Noisy halls and a topic you are not particularly knowledgable about do not mix. This is why I would retreat to the library and work away to my hearts content. I found many of my friends also had essay deadlines so we would book a private library pod and work in there. This particular facility is brilliant! If you want to be in the library but need a lot of space to work and a semi-silent atmosphere this is perfect for you. Each room is equipped with everything you need, a massive spacious table, chairs, a whiteboard and my personal favourite, a TV connected to a computer allowing you to display powerpoints or online resources.

Referencing is not your friend 

With regards to referencing I am not the best at it and I will need to focus a lot more on it going into the second semester. Until now I have never had to reference my work, or if I did, I didn’t. So going into an essay and not having much guidance was a very big challenge for me. To begin with most faculties across the university have different referencing styles and therefore not everyone will be able to help you with your particular one. I got recommended a website called ref me, which basically does the referencing for you, you then just need to fit it into your text accordingly. This was essential for me as it put everything in the right order and also created a bibliography title too.

PLEASE PLAN YOUR TIME 

Everyone always goes on and on about making sure you leave yourself enough time to write the essay. Usually recommending writing a plan, doing a first draft a week before and then doing the final tweaking of the essay a few days before the deadline. DO IT! I sadly did not do this despite planning on doing so. I prioritised other assessments that probably did not require as much time and attention as this one and it did show within my work. I began panicking and making stupid mistakes, I missed out a few of the readings I wanted to and I only have myself to blame. If I were faced with this situation again, which being a first year student is inevitable that I will, I would ensure I created a study timetable as I would with regards to exams. It never hurts to be overly prepared rather than underprepared.

Don’t panic!

Whatever you do, do not panic. There are plenty of people across the university to help you find the resources you are looking for. In the library there are a range of helpful librarians who can show you how to use the computers to locate resources or they might even know straight away if it is a popular topic.

Your peers are also there to help too! If you are looking for similar readings they will be able to suggest ones they’ve found helpful or where begin looking for new ones. If it weren’t for my peers I wouldn’t have a clue where to begin with referencing.

Lastly, speak to your tutors. They may seem busy and you might feel as though you’re bothering them but they will listen and help. My seminar tutor was brilliant with telling me what sorts of resources I should be looking at and which ones to avoid using for an essay, but which might be useful for exam preparation.

No matter what you are struggling with, people will be able to help you find what you’re looking for and that is what is important.

Aly

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