29 May 2015

Explore the botanical world with a unique resource

Monash Library databases can link you to a wealth of information in the form of articles, papers and books, but there is another side to our extensive electronic collections....By Catherine Hocking

Imagine being able to take a sneak peek into the extensive botanical collections of international herbaria – this is precisely what JSTOR Global Plants allows you to do! Over 300 institutions (including 11 Australian) have contributed images and other materials from their collections including:
  • botanical type specimens
  • illustrations
  • photographs
  • artefacts
  • correspondences
  • articles, books, dissertations, reports and manuscripts. 
In addition to an extensive advanced search you have the option of browsing by 55 broad collections which can then be narrowed by resource type, geography and herbarium.

High quality, high resolution images allow for zooming in closely on specimens - almost like visiting the collection in person. Seeing the pollen on an acacia specimen at close range is almost enough to bring on a bout of hay fever!
While a highly specialised collection, JSTOR Global Plants has the potential for much broader application with the general interest potential of illustrations and historic correspondence.

Those unfamiliar with scientific plant names may find using JSTOR Global Plants in conjunction with a more general resource such as A dictionary of plant sciences helpful in identifying specific plants.

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28 May 2015

How to succeed on exam day

Whether you’ve studied a lot or a little, taking the right approach on exam day itself can really help improve your marks. Clinton Bell

Doing well on an exam isn’t just about what you know - it’s about understanding what’s being asked of you, managing your time, and performing under pressure.  So take a deep breath and try to stay calm as we go over some strategies for exam success!

Read the question

This may seem obvious, but when you’re in the grip of exam-day panic it’s easy to skim over instructions or miss important information. Take a deep breath, slow down, and read the question and any other instructions carefully. Pay close attention to direction words (e.g. “compare”, “identify”, “discuss”) and any limitations placed on your answer (“in Australia”, “since the year 2000”, “using differentiation by parts”).

Marks are based on how well you address the question you were asked, and there is a set number of marks for each question, so make sure your answers are on target. A detailed and beautifully-written response which doesn’t answer the question at all is worth nothing, and you won’t get extra marks for “showing off” by including information which isn’t relevant.

Don’t try to reproduce long passages from the textbook word-for-word. It may be tempting if you’re not confident in your writing skills, but it won’t get you good marks. Examiners usually want evidence that you understand the material, not that you have memorised the text. They may deliberately set questions which are just different enough from what’s in the book that copying won’t work. If you don’t acknowledge your source properly, you also risk being accused of plagiarism!

Time is of the essence

As well as reading the question itself, look at how many marks it is worth - this indicates how much time you should spend on each question. The more marks a question is worth, the longer and more detailed your response is expected to be. Don’t spend an hour agonising over a question which is worth very little!

Most exams don’t require you to answer the questions in the order they are presented, so if you get stuck on a question, don’t waste too much time - move on to the next one. You can come back to it later after you have finished the questions you can answer more easily. Sometimes working on other questions will even jog your memory!

Stay to the end

The only time you should leave an exam early is if the building is on fire. If you finish before the time is over, congratulations! Check your answers and see if there’s anything you can improve. If you’re completely stuck and don’t think you can answer any more questions, try anyway.

Think about related information, imagine your lecturer talking about the topic, draw a diagram… use any strategy you can think of. If you still can’t do it, go over your other answers and try to improve them. As long as you have time left, you still have a chance to get a few extra marks!

When it’s over, it’s over

So the exam is over, for better or for worse. You’ve used the strategies here and hopefully you’re feeling confident! Even if you’re not, there’s no point stressing about it - you can’t go back in time and change how you did. So my final tip is that when the exam is over, you’re done with it. Relax and take a well-deserved break!

Sources of help and information
What are your tips for exam day? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @monashunilib

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27 May 2015

Matheson Library extended hours and bus

Get more study done with late night opening at the Matheson Library.

From Monday 1 June until the end of the exam period Thursday 25 June the Sir Louis Matheson Library will be open for extended exam study.

During this four week period:
  • The Matheson Library will be open from 8 am until 2 am Monday to Thursday inclusive.
  • There will be security and a security bus in operation until 2 am on the days the library is operating on extended hours.
  • Fridays and weekends will operate on normal hours.
Check the opening hours for all libraries.

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25 May 2015

How to stay healthy during exams

To study effectively, maintain peak performance and be at your best on exam day, you need to make sure you stay Clinton Bell

Can you imagine the coach of a football team telling his players to prepare for a big game by staying up late, eating unhealthy food, and not doing any exercise? And yet this is exactly what a lot of students do to prepare for an exam!

Research has consistently shown that your brain doesn’t work as well when you don’t look after yourself. To study effectively - and to be at your best on exam day - you need to make sure you stay healthy.

Get enough sleep

It’s important that you get enough sleep, especially on the night before your exam.
Lack of sleep impairs memory and thinking, so if you stay up late to study, you might find that you read more but remember less! Always allow yourself at least eight hours of sleep a night.

If you have difficulty falling asleep, there are several strategies that can help. Choose a regular bedtime and stick to it - set an alarm or reminder if necessary. Before you go to bed, avoid caffeine and take a break from study to give yourself time to relax. When you do go to bed make sure you turn your phone off and put it away, so you won’t be distracted.

Do some exercise

Do you often feel your attention drifting during a long study session? Taking regular exercise helps you stay alert and attentive throughout the day. It can also help you fall asleep at night! You don’t have to do anything too long or strenuous. A brisk 10-minute walk every hour or so is fine.

Try to spend time outdoors, particularly if you’ve been suffering from headaches or sore eyes. Going outside gives your eyes a break from peering at textbooks and screens, and your body a break from sitting at a desk. Sunlight and fresh air don’t hurt either!

Eat smarter

Your brain needs food to work. Inadequate nutrition can leave you feeling exhausted and inattentive, while too much caffeine or sugar can make it hard to stay focused. For more effective study, try not using the energy drinks and the instant noodles, and have something healthy instead.

Preparing healthy food doesn’t have to take a long time. A simple salad sandwich takes a couple of minutes, maximum. Fresh fruit makes a healthy snack and doesn’t need to be prepared at all (a tub of diced fruit is also acceptable). Puffed (not popped) corn or rice cakes are a healthier alternative to potato chips.

Avoid sugary snacks and drinks - they give you a brief high followed by a long crash. Alcohol should also be avoided. Being drunk or hungover does not help you study!

Fringe benefits

Staying healthy isn’t just good for your exam performance, but also your mood and your overall wellbeing. So have a happy and healthy exam period, and try to keep the good habits up through the break!

Do you have a favourite healthy snack? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter@monashunilib


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18 May 2015

Study at uni can be fun

It is always worth remembering that your studies can be not only rewarding but also enjoyable. This blog post focuses on the possibilities for fun while actually learning something...... by Damian Gleeson, Learning Skills Adviser, Caulfield Library. 

As you approach the end of semester you may find that most of your work is due at the same time. Yikes! Not only that - you may have exams looming and approaching fast. This can be stressful, especially if this is your first time, or if you haven’t done so well in past semesters.

Form a study group
Study at university can be a lonely business. Sure, there are certain tasks like individual essays, reports and presentations that require you to work independently, but that only applies to those tasks. You probably have 12 - 15 people in your tutorial or lab group with whom you definitely have something in common!

Ideally, a study group consists of 4 or 5 members, though this is flexible. Something like a DISC questionnaire can be a useful tool for determining the personality and approach to work of your group’s members. This can help you to identify the variety of strengths and areas that need work among your team mates. Once you’ve worked all this out, you may find something like this:
  • Student A is quiet, but takes meticulous lecture notes. Student A is a useful resource for the group for this reason. He’s a top record-keeper of key lecture content.
  • Student B is talkative and energetic. She is great at remembering conversations and important insights from your tutor. She’s both likeable and a natural leader. Combined with Student A’s lecture notes, you have the lecture and tute materials covered.
  • Student C’s strength is research and reading. He got a HD for the first assignment and your tutor singled out his excellent research, citing and referencing skills. Someone with this much attention to detail is a great resource to ensure that your group is at its most effective when revising the semester’s content.
  • Student D is also quiet and is not confident about her English language skills. However, she has work experience in the field you are studying, which allows her to clearly see and explain why the unit’s content is relevant to your group’s future professions.
So there is a wide range of personalities, skills and knowledge in your group. Cool! This means any areas that individual members think are weaknesses for them can be overcome by the members who are strong in those areas. It also means your strengths are not just an advantage for you - your team mates can also reap the benefits. That’s a great boost for your confidence. Put it to use reviewing the reading, lecture and tutorial materials. Put it to the test by working on past exam questions together.

Revision - turn a boring chore into clever fun

If this describes you and the way you like to work (left), take advantage of it (right). Your learning style is yours and no one else’s, so why not take advantage of it?
  • I like setting and meeting goals    -     Use a to-do list.
  • I work best against the clock  -      Try the Pomodoro technique.
  • I like to draw or doodle  -    Use mind maps to outline how to solve a problem.
  • I like music  -   Write songs about important information that you need to remember. More here.
  • I’m a night owl. I enjoy staying up late   -  Study when you are most alert and do mundane tasks when you are least alert.
  • Solve questions from the textbook   -  A no-brainer
  • If there are few questions, turn chapter titles into questions then practise answering them  - Requires thought.  See example below:
Possible questions

What issues arise for managers in a global environment?

What is social responsibility and how do managerial ethics apply to it?

How are change and innovation best managed?

Why and how do managers motivate employees?

If you remain uncertain about how to be efficient and take joy in your academic work, don’t forget a friendly Librarian or Learning Skills Adviser is available to speak with you at a drop in.

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13 May 2015

How to make the most of exam revision

Make sure you get the most out of the time you have, with these tips for effective study! Clinton Bell

With end-of-semester exams rapidly approaching, it’s time for some serious study… but it can be difficult to juggle the exam-time crunch with the rest of your life.

Keep it regular
Waiting until the day before the exam to start revising is a terrible idea - and not just because it means less study time. Research has shown that you’re more likely to remember things if you spread your revision sessions out. In other words, it’s better to study a subject one hour a day for seven days than to study it for seven hours in one day.

If time is short, you can try changing between tasks to break up your study. After reading a chapter, instead of doing the exercises immediately, try studying a different topic for an hour before coming back to them. This helps you practise holding what you’ve learned in long-term memory, instead of forgetting it the moment you’re done with that chapter!

Student, test thyself
Speaking of exercises, one of the best ways to prepare for an exam is by testing yourself. Practice makes perfect, after all! Flash cards are a popular way to do this, but you can also do the exercises from your books, get someone else to ask you questions, or do past exams.

If you want to take things a step further, try doing a past exam in exam conditions. Turn off your phone, turn off the music, sit at your desk, and set the same time limit as the actual exam. This can help you avoid exam-day nerves by getting used to the conditions you will be working in on the day. It also gives you a feel for how long you have to complete the exam.

Be practical
Knowing the material is all well and good, but don’t forget to look after practical concerns as well! If there’s any equipment you need, buy or borrow it before exam day - and if you need a calculator, check that the batteries work. Also make sure you know exactly when and where your exam is, and how to get there. If you’ve never been to the exam venue before, try making the trip next time you need a study break!

Above all, remember that successful study is about how much you learn, not how much time you spend hunched over your desk. So use these tips, or the Library's quick guide to Exam revision strategies, to make your time count, and good luck on your exams!

Got a study strategy that works well for you? Share it in the comments or on Twitter @monashunilib

Used under CC 2.0 licence.

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8 May 2015

Asian literary gems new and old at Matheson

Books by Nobel Prize winning author Mo Yan are on display at the Matheson Library, along with historic Japanese texts.

Rare Japanese classics from the Suetsugu collection and the works of Chinese literary sensation Mo Yan are currently on display and available for borrowing at the Sir Louis Matheson Library, Clayton Campus.

The displays are part of the Library’s Asian Studies Collection, a leading research facility in Australia. The Collection has a strong focus on Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Suetsugu Collection
The Suetsugu collection―a large collection of over one 1000 volumes of rare 18th and 19th century Japanese books―originally came from Matsue, Japan, and was the library of an old established Matsue family. The historical and cultural city of Matsue is also known, incidentally, as the home of the writer Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo).

Later the collection came into the possession of Captain L. K. Shepherd, an intelligence Linguist with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force from 1947-1956. Captain Shepherd eventually donated the collection to the Monash Library.

The books on display at the Matheson Library include a four-volume history of Japan from 1861 written in the Kanbun style, a Japanese work of classical literature from 1661 titled, ”Essays in Idleness”, Chinese poetry by Li Bai written in calligraphy, and two tiny volumes of Confucian literature. The Suetsugu collection is held in the Rare Books Collection.

Mo Yan莫言 winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature

A separate case displays a selection of books by or about the 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Chinese novelist Mo Yan (莫言), whose works include novels, short stories and essays. His novels were translated into English by Howard Goldblatt (葛浩文), professor of East Asian language and literatures at the University of Notre Dame.

The Matheson Library has collected most of Mo Yan's books and also holds many books about him in both Chinese and English. They can be found through Search under his name “Mo Yan” or under each individual title. Books in Chinese are kept in the Chinese collection and English books are kept in the general collection.

The Asian Studies Collection materials are presently located in the open access lower ground floor Matheson Store while the library is being refurbished. Please visit the collection or enquire with Information staff about accessing items from the collection.

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7 May 2015


Academic progression is intimately tied to the demonstration of impact in your field. Bibliometrics, while often flawed, provide an avenue for demonstrating impact. Some might say they are part of the bread and butter of academic research. Want to know more.... then read on.   By Penny Presta

Bibliometrics is a field that looks to analyse the impact of research using citation data. The basic premise is that the more people that use and cite a work, the higher the impact it is considered to have.
Impact alludes to the demonstrable contribution that research makes to society and advancement of a discipline.

What are Bibliometrics used for?
  • to identify high-quality papers amongst the sheer volume of research published in a field
  • to identify the publications considered to be most prominent in a discipline when deciding where to publish
  • as a means of identifying authors whose papers are influential when looking to collaborate
  • to contribute to informed decision-making by bodies that fund scientific research in a competitive research environment.
A complementary area is Altmetrics (also known as alternative metrics) which aim to measure the online activity associated with research outputs. This may include social media traffic or downloads.
Bibliometric outputs are created in different ways, all of which can have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on the objectives of your analysis. To avoid misuse it is important that they are employed based on an understanding of their limitations, and more importantly their use should be combined with methods of determining quality such as peer-review.

Journal impact
A commonly known metric is the Journal Impact Factor which is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited. Journal Impact Factors are only meaningful when comparing journals in the same field. The Eigenfactor is another tool for finding the impact of a journal or groups of journals. The Eigenfactor differs in that it counts citations across fields and eliminates self-citations.

Journal Impact Factors and the Eigenfactor (from 2007 onwards) can be found using Incites - Journal Citation Reports database.

Author impact
The h-index is a popular metric in the sciences that aims to capture the impact of a particular researcher. It can be calculated using the Web of Science Core Collection database. Citation counts are another measure of author impact and these can be found in Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science databases. Author impact metrics may be influenced by self-citing, and tend to favour those in a later stage of career and in fields that actively cite and publish.

Expert advice
The Library provides access to the main citation indexes utilised for Bibliometric research. See your subject librarian for advice on the options available, and for expert assistance in their access and use.
You may also like to consult the Research impact and publishing library guide for more information.


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Learn new skills via video

Learn some new skills and techniques online through a first class video provider.  In fact we found helpful tips on writing for this blog that way...... by Romany Manuell.

If you listen to a lot of podcasts (I'm a huge fan of This American Life and Serial) you probably will have heard the ads for, a training provider offering online education via video since 2002. But did you know that you can access for free by signing up through the Monash University Library? offers beautifully produced training videos on all kinds of topics. Want to learn how to use InDesign or Photoshop? can help out. Need to keep up to date with the latest classroom technologies? can help you there, too. Each set of videos comes complete with a detailed table of contents, so you can quickly navigate to the information you need. Never again will you be stuck looking for a needle in the YouTube haystack!  

To explore this amazing database of videos, look for in Search and follow the instructions to sign up for an account.

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6 May 2015

Access to Caulfield Library during exam study time – bring your ID card

At Caulfield Library a temporary exclusion period will operate before the exams to help Monash students find a Rosemary Miller

To provide Monash students with the greatest possible access to available study space, Caulfield Library will be accessible to only Monash staff and students between 18 May and 19 June 2015.

To assist with enforcing this policy, students from all campuses who plan to use Caulfield Library over this period are encouraged to carry their Monash ID. This will minimise inconvenience and ensure you are not delayed at the library entrance.

This policy has been introduced to alleviate the shortage of study space experienced at Caulfield during the exam study period, when use is at its peak. It is anticipated that the future expansion and refurbishment of Caulfield Library will double the number of seats when finished in 2017.

During the restriction period, CAVAL and ULANZ registered borrowers will be able to retrieve and borrow specific items, but will not be able to study in the library. Alumni and external fee-paying members of the Library will continue to have access by presenting their Library card. The exclusion also does not apply to Sir John Monash Science School and Nossal High School students.

The exclusion is not being applied at any other Monash campus libraries.

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4 May 2015

Tips and tricks for oral presentations

Are you about to give your first presentation at uni or did you just finish giving one? Feeling a bit nervous is perfectly normal. Some tips in this article may help you... by Anita Dewi 

Image: Pixabay
Oral presentations can be successful if you have a good plan, structure, preparation and, obviously, content. Experts say that an oral presentation is a multi-modal approach to communicating ideas. This means that, in addition to using words, you also need to make the best use of eye contact, gestures, pauses, and voice tones.

Content is king
If not determined by your lecturer or tutor, you will first need to choose a topic. If this is the case, choose a topic that interests you. You should then do some research into the topic, so that you have a good general idea about it. Once you’ve done this research, narrow down your topic so that the presentation is more focused.

The structure of a presentation is very much similar to that of essays and reports. You will need an introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction includes a statement of the topic, a definition of terms and/or jargons, and an outline of the talk. In the body you can then develop the topic, put forward your arguments, and support your arguments with evidence. Finally, don’t forget to sum up in a conclusion and leave a good impression at the end of your presentation.

Visual aids are also useful in oral presentations. Take time to think about key factors in deciding on visual aids as they play a key role in grabbing the audience’s attention. These key factors include the number of slides (not too many, please! We have all heard about death by Powerpoint.), highlights of key words, colours used in the slides, size and type of fonts and bullet points in use, and other illustrations such as graphs, charts, figures, and diagrams.

Practise, practise, practise
Making sure that you know your content and giving yourself plenty of practice enable you to be more confident and not resort to reading from your slides. To avoid reading, focus on key words and ideas, and place them in short bullet points or outline format. 

When you practise your presentation, don’t forget to time it so that you get a sense of how long you can go for ‘the real show’ in class. If in any case you run out of time, quickly summarise the points that you haven’t covered and focus only on the main points.

Finally, if you still feel nervous on the day of your presentation, there are some tips that have proved useful for many people:

1.     Take at least three deep breaths.
2.     Pretend that you are confident (even if you’re really not feeling so!).
3.     Speak slowly.
4.     Focus on your arguments and the content of your presentation.

As they say when one goes on stage, break a leg!

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About the Blog

Welcome to the Monash University Library blog. Whether you are engaged in learning, teaching or research activities, the Library and its range of programs, activities and resources will contribute to your success. Here you will find useful information, ideas, tips and inspiration. Your comments on any of the articles are welcome.

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