Welcome to Warwick! Studying in the UK as an international student can be a very exciting and rewarding experience, and equip you for working and living in a multicultural society. We realise, however, that it can also at times be challenging and stressful as you adjust to the UK academic environment and develop your study skills while working in a foreign language… by Helen Ireland and Helen Riley
Here in the Library we want to make you feel welcome and able to start to make the most of our resources as soon as you arrive and begin your studies. At first the Library may seem daunting and different from those you have used in your home country but the Library staff are keen to help you find your way round. Please ask for any help that you need, or work through the online help on the Library webpages.
Our Webpage for International Students is a good starting point. It introduces you to the resources available and gives links to other sources of help.
When you begin a module your lecturer will normally give you a reading list of key books and articles. In the Sciences these lists tend to be short, perhaps only one core textbook for the first-year modules. In Humanities and Social Sciences, however, you could be faced with a reading list several pages long. Don’t panic and feel that you have to read everything on the list. Work with your lecturers to decide which books are the key ones, and prioritise. The Library aims to provide copies of all the material on reading lists but not one copy for each student, so you may find it helpful to buy your own copy of the key textbooks.
Talk to your tutor or module convenor if you need guidance in navigating your way through a reading list or if some of the items on it aren’t in stock in the Library. Further guidance on reading lists is available here.
The library has a large collection of print material and also a vast collection of e-resources, as e-books, e-journals and databases. Just as 90% of an iceberg is below the surface of the water, there’s a lot more to the Library than what you can see on the shelves.
To find printed books and journals, you will need to go to the shelves yourself. Many students enjoy browsing our collections and being able to open a book, glance through a few pages and decide whether to spend time reading it or to select another book, rather than waiting for someone to fetch it for them and then find that it’s not useful. You can take books anywhere in the Library in order to study and then leave them on a “Book Park” shelf (near the lifts, in the centre of floors 2-5) when you have finished with them, if you don’t have time to re-shelve them.
In order to use this type of open-access library efficiently you need to become familiar with our Library Search system, which allows you to search by keyword for books and journal titles, both print and online. For e-books and e-journals you can click on a title, link through to the publisher’s website and download the chapter or journal article you want. For print resources, make a note of the book’s classmark (hint – write it down, or take a photo of the Library Search screen), then use our floor plans to help you find the item’s location. Searching on Library Search also allows you to find books which are already on loan to someone else (so you wouldn’t have found them by browsing along the shelves!) and to place a hold on them so we can let you know when they have been returned, or to request some lesser-used material if it has been moved to the Library Store.
As you progress through your course you will be expected to find additional information for yourself, rather than just relying on one or two textbooks, and to produce substantial assignments and perhaps a dissertation. The Library subscribes to over 50,000 e-journals so you won’t need to rely on Google for finding this information, but you may need help with finding relevant journal articles. Library Search is a good starting point but we recommend you use our databases for in-depth searches. Academic Support Librarians organise training on how to structure your searches, evaluate the information you find and refer to it correctly. They can also help you to access material if we don’t subscribe to a particular journal.
Further guidance on using databases is available here. The Library webpages also give links to other online tutorials and guidance, so we recommend that you explore these. Our finding information pages and the GetWISE module are excellent starting points.
Referencing and avoiding plagiarism
During your studies, you will be expected to read about a topic, evaluate the information and then present your own ideas, using your own words. You may not feel confident about doing this at first, but it becomes easier with practice. However, if you are building on other people’s ideas, you will need to acknowledge where you found the information, and reference your sources correctly so that anyone who reads your work can also find the original paper or book chapter. You can create a list of references manually and then copy these into the bibliography at the end of your assignment, or try using a software program such as EndNote Online or Mendeley to create your references in Word. Passing off someone else’s ideas as your own is plagiarism and the University imposes strict penalties on anyone found to be doing this.
Being away from home, missing your family and friends and feeling under pressure to succeed can all make life more stressful than anyone would wish, so relax as much as you can, socialise and make new friends. The Postgraduate Hub, Research Exchange, and Study Happy events throughout the year aim to help you to feel part of the academic community, so keep up to date with the Library webpages and our Twitter feeds to see what’s going on.
Manage your time efficiently but also allow yourself to enjoy life as a Warwick student. You’ll be working hard in the months ahead but we all want you to succeed in your studies and to have a brilliant time here.
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