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Library support for research-based education and the Connected Curriculum

Library research skills are essential for UCL's taught-course students to fully benefit from research-based education as defined in the Connected Curriculum.

Library Services supports the application of research-based education through:

  • the provision of teaching in library research skills integrated into academic programmes and delivered face-to-face, online or through blended learning
  • supporting Connected Curriculum projects, such as those which utilise the library's extensive and specialised collections

The following case studies illustrate some of the ways we are currently supporting research-based education and the Connected Curriculum. If you would like further information or to discuss how we can support research-based education as part of your programme or module, please contact us.

Case studies

Library research skills for an economic showcase

The Economics Skills Lab is an innovative, not-for-credit, optional course to enable undergraduates to develop core competences for success in their degrees, to prepare for the department's undergraduate research conference and especially the world of work after graduation. The Subject Liaison Librarian for economics runs a workshop on locating socio-economic statistics in today's rich landscape of multitudinous raw data, including opportunities and challenges. There is subsequent teaching on statistical software, to explore and explain economic concepts and theories.

Explore Econ

Budding researchers can utilise their new found skills at Explore Econ, an event showcasing students' independent work from across the programme, much of it outside of the curriculum. This positive interplay between research and teaching, including the methods, activities and transferable skills associated with well-developed forms of scholarly enterprise, plus evolving experimental and empirical synergies within the discipline itself, is displayed through presentations, poster sessions and the First Year Challenge, a multimedia film project.
 

Searching alternative sources of information

Students on the iBSc Clinical Sciences are required to undertake an assignment which goes beyond searching for published literature and requires the identification of alternative sources of information, such as news stories, government reports, policy documents, health management information, national statistics, grey literature and case law reports. Library staff provide a teaching session to support the assignment, which explores sources to identify these types of information and addresses the evaluation of information to establish its validity and trustworthiness.

Utilising library collections in research-based education

The Other & the Moving Image project included a series of three one-day events put together primarily to support work developed by the UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities. It draws on UCL Library Services' collections, disseminating audio-visual materials and identifying areas for improvement. It demonstrates the significance and relevance of library collections to the academic curriculum, in this instance relating to issues such as cultural awareness and sensitivity, human rights, human traffic, learning disabilities, difficulties and differences, race, gender, equality, colonialism, labour history, development and the transatlantic slave trade. The project connected UCL departments, UCL student societies and othe UK universities, and included collaboration between cultural organisations and institutions at local, national and international level. It received a grant from UCL's Connected Curriculum 'Liberating the Curriculum' working group and was supported by various UCL departments as well as external organisations.

Library research skills in a flipped classroom

Flipped classroom

Library staff provide teaching in library research skills as part of the Data Interpretation and Evaluation of Science module of the first year BSc Applied Medical Sciences. Areas covered include defining a research question, planning a literature search, techniques for searching, knowing which resources to search, evaluating and managing information. In line with the delivery of the entire programme, this is provided through hybrid teaching using the flipped classroom technique. Students engage with interactive storylines and videos and undertake an exercise prior to a face-to-face session. The pre-session learning helps inform the content and delivery of the class, which includes group work and presentation of findings to the class.

Connecting library skills with workplace learning

The Subject Liaison Librarian for Translation Studies teaches classes on literature searching and managing references as part of a dissertation module for the MA in Translation Studies. The content of the second session includes the issue of plagiarism and the use of reference management software. The programme is predominantly vocational so in addition to contributing to the research skills required for the students' coursework, these sessions equip the students to find and manage information for their ongoing professional development in their future roles as translators, so addressing the Connected Curriculum objective to connect academic learning with wider learning and skills to take into their professional lives.

Finding the evidence for child health

Stethoscope and laptop

The Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library runs a search session and follow-up drop-in session for postgraduate students on the Evidence-based Child Health module of the MSc in Paediatrics and Child Health. The search session teaches students skills to find research to answer a clinical question of their choice, introducing a range of search tools for finding clinical guidelines, synopses of evidence, systematic reviews and primary research. The pros and cons of these types of evidence are discussed and students are encouraged to share their opinions of the search tools and the publications that they find, so connecting with each other.

The drop-in session towards the end of the module supports an assignment where students are assessed on their presentation and peer review of a Critically Appraised Topic (CAT), which is a short summary of the evidence they have found to answer their clinical question.
 

Support for a group research project and presentation

The Subject Liaison Librarian for Geography provides teaching in conjunction with academic staff to support a 'Policy Debate Report' assignment as part of the Writing and Analysis in Geography module for first year BA/BSc Geography students. The assignment includes a group project and presentation, and an individual report. As students select their own research topic, there is no predefined reading list so it is essential that students develop library research skills. The librarian provides teaching on literature searching, sourcing and evaluating scholarly resources and referencing through a lecture and practical workshop.

Teaching research data management

Writing

Library Services provides support and teaching in research data management, which may be integrated into academic programmes. Developing students' research skills and their understanding of aspects of the research cycle is key to supporting a culture of research-based education. The Research Data Management (RDM) Team teaches a session for MRes students in the UCL Institute of Sustainable Heritage to introduce data management good practice and regulations, research integrity, ethics, copyright, data storage, data labelling, information security and Open Access, signposting to other relevant support services within UCL. The session provides an opportunity for students to work on their own data management plan, using a template designed by the team that is relevant for any discipline and which enables them to anticipate steps required to manage data for their research project. The students update their plans throughout their project and later submit them for assessment.

Managing and citing references

References

Managing and citing references are an essential library research skill delivered as part of a research methodologies module for taught postgraduate students in the UCL Division of Surgery. Library staff teach sessions on searching skills and a workshop on managing and citing references using EndNote software to support a homework assignment where students are required to identify 10 important references in a particular subject area and cite them in a Word document using EndNote. This teaching includes discussion on the value of citation counts as a measure of the impact of research. To accompany the face-to-face sessions, library staff produce a pre- and post-session formative assessment quiz on Moodle.