Posts by Anne Sherwin

Saving your work

12 February 2019

Did you know that, as a student, you get access to one gigabyte of personal storage space on our network (your F: drive) and one terabyte of space on OneDrive? That’s a lot of secure space to save all your assignments, and you can access them both on and off campus.

To find out more about the good (and not-so-good) places to save your work click the image below and have a look at our short tutorial.

Are you a new student, or perhaps you’d like a quick refresher? If so, you might like to have a look at some of the other information while you are there. read more

Referencing: an introduction

29 October 2018

Anne introduces referencing.

Even if you are still quite new to university you have probably already heard words like “referencing” and “citations” – and heard that they are VERY IMPORTANT.

But what is referencing, and why do you need to do it?

Research is a major part of university education, and it is expected that you will read, understand and discuss the writing of others. It is essential that you acknowledge what you have read to protect yourself against accusations of plagiarism, show the research you have done, and allow your tutors to identify your own ideas and understanding of your subject.

This is what referencing means.

To find out more, watch our Citing it Right video. Click the image to play.


Students on most taught courses at Salford are required to reference using the APA 6th style. There are links to PDF guides plus online examples on the Skills for Learning Referencing and Plagiarism pages.

To learn more about referencing come to a workshop – and if you need more help you may book an appointment with your Subject Librarian or Study Skills Consultant.

We want you to do well in your studies!

Referencing made easier with EndNote

23 January 2018

Is there an easier way to do your referencing? Anne suggests EndNote.


Correct referencing, that is, acknowledging the books, journal articles and other sources of information you use in your essays and assignments, is a very important part of academic writing.

You might have already discovered that it is complicated, and can be quite time-consuming and difficult to get right. 

Have you ever wished you could get a machine to help you?


Well you can!

All our open access PCs and Macs are installed with EndNote X8. This is a package that allows you to create your own library of references and add citations and a reference list to your Word documents – automatically and correctly!

There is also a free web version called EndNote Online, which you can use at home or anywhere else you have internet access.

Would you like to learn how to use EndNote?

We run workshops throughout the year.

Click the button to find the next one and book your place.

come to a workshop




Using Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias

12 January 2018

Want to use something better than Wikipedia for your assignments? Anne suggests some alternatives.

When you get given a new assignment do you head straight to Wikipedia to find out what the words mean?

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – if you’re going to research a topic and write about it you need to know what it is, right? However, Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced resource – meaning you don’t know who has written the information, or more importantly, if they know what they’re writing about.

The Library provides online access to a wealth of dictionaries and encyclopaedias, and other publications such as directories and handbooks, which are known as reference works.

They are usually arranged in alphabetical order and provide short, factual articles to give you a brief overview of a topic – just like Wikipedia, but from a reliable, academic source.

what you can find in an encyclopaedia

  • A dictionary is a book providing definitions of words and phrases. It can be a language dictionary or a specialist subject dictionary. You can use dictionaries to help you understand the words and concepts in your essay question.
  • An encyclopaedia is a book, or set of books, giving information on either many branches of knowledge or a specific subject. You can use encyclopaedias to get an overview of your subject before you move on to more detailed research.
  • read more

    Finding Patents

    4 July 2017

    Looking for patents? Anne shows you where you can find them.

    Patents are useful as they can show the latest technological development in a particular field, and often describe significant developments long before they are revealed elsewhere. If you are working in a field of engineering, for example, and need to think of a design solution to a particular problem you might like to look at some patents for inspiration.


    You might be familiar with Scopus for finding journal articles, but did you know it provides access to over 28 million patents from five patent offices as well?

    • European Patent Office
    • Japan Patent Office
    • UK Intellectual Property Office
    • US Patent & Trademark Office
    • World Intellectual Property Organization

    To access Scopus go to the Library’s Resources page, click the letter ‘‘, select ‘SCOPUS’, then click ‘Link to Database’.

    Scopus search screen

    re-order by relevance

    Because the patents on Scopus are drawn from different offices, the pages you click through to will look different – but look for links called “Image” or “Original Document”, etc.

    You might find some great designs:

    USPTO 595629

    And you will almost certainly find some strange ones:

    JPS 6031276

    I think this cat has every right to look alarmed, don’t you?


    Do you know how to reference a patent?

    A reference for a patent is in this format:

    Inventor, A. B. (Year). Title of patent. Patent Office No. Patent number.

    For example:

    Ichihara, A., & Maruta, F. (1984). Cat Washing Bag. Japan Patent Office No. JPS59139052U

    Now here’s the tricky part!

    Your in-text citation uses the Patent Office number and year, but not the inventor.
    So this one would be:
    (Japan Patent No. JPS59139052U, 1984) or
    Japan Patent No. JPS59139052U (1984).

    If you wish though, you can include the inventors’ names in your text, for example:

    Ichihara and Maruta’s innovative design (Japan Patent No. JPS59139052U, 1984) helped restrain cats for the purpose of washing …

    Explore ESDU

    15 June 2017

    Need engineering design methods and data? Anne shows you where you can find these.

    Do you need access to design methods and data for aeronautical, mechanical or structural engineering?


    little logoESDU (Engineering Sciences Data Unit) provides data, software tools and design methods that have been monitored, guided and rigorously tested and validated by technical committees comprised of leading experts from industry, academia and government organisations from around the world.

    In short, this is information you can trust.


    What’s more, you won’t find this information on Google or Wikipedia – in in many cases the data and information is unpublished and only available through ESDU.

    When you are designing or building something, you don’t want it to fall apart, do you?


    Access ESDU through Library Search.

    Go to sign in if you are working off-campus.

    When ESDU opens read the Agreement and click the Yes, I accept… button.

    Not sure where to start?



    Once you are familiar with the types of information you can find on ESDU, try using the Search box to find the things you need.

    What is Critical Analysis?

    27 March 2017

    Want to improve your critical analysis skills? Anne shows you how.

    and why do I need it?


    During your time at university you will often be asked to critically analyse things – in your reading and writing, in essay titles, assignment instructions and exam questions.

    Also, when your assignment is marked your tutor might comment that your work is “too descriptive” or that “there isn’t enough critical analysis”.

    What does it all mean?

    Descriptive writing is simply describing a situation or summarising what you have read.

    Critical analysis shows that you have examined the evidence, understood the arguments and analysed the conclusions – and can discuss these in your own writing.
    examine the evidence

    You need to use both. If you are discussing a book, article or report you will need to provide some description of what it is about before you can analyse it, but the critical or analytical element of your writing is more important.


    Because the ability to show that you can identify arguments, clearly analyse, evaluate and compare ideas, and synthesise the information to support your own arguments shows that you have learnt something.

    This what your tutors want to see!

    Unsurprisingly, the better your skills are, the better your grades will be.

    Want to learn more?

    This e-Learning will introduce you to critical analysis and help you to understand the difference between descriptive and critical writing.

    Play Critical Analysis e-Learning


    Ambiguous Citations

    15 July 2016

    Or, how do you know what is what?


    Let’s start with the basics:

    When you are referencing your information sources you use citations within your text. These are brief, just names and a date in brackets, in your text.

    Then at the end of your essay or assignment you have a reference list. This is a list of everything you have cited, with each reference providing the full details of the works you have cited in your writing.

    This means if someone reading your work sees an interesting idea they can use the citation to find the matching reference, and then use the details in the reference to find the original work to read for themselves.

    Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

    Yes, usually it is. But sometimes a citation might match two references, for example, an author might have written two papers in the same year and you have used both of them in your essay, or you might have two different authors with the same surname writing in the same year.

    Which one is which?

    These are called Ambiguous Citations, and when this happens you need to add extra information to your citations to differentiate them.

    Part 1: Same author, same year

    zombie writing
    The same author has written two or more works in the same year.

    To tell these apart, simply add the letters a, b, c, etc. after the year, for example:

    (Davis, 1983a) and (Davis, 1983b)

    If you are citing these two works together, treat them like this (Davis, 1983a, 1983b).

    Here’s the tricky part! Assign the letters a, b, etc. in the order the works will appear in your reference list – which is not necessarily the same order they will appear in your writing.

    You reference list is arranged alphabetically by author, then year, then title. P comes before T, so these two references will be ordered like this:

    Davis, E. W. (1983a). Preparation of the Haitian zombi poison. Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University, 29(2), 139-149.

    Davis, E. W. (1983b). The ethnobiology of the Haitian zombi. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 9(1), 85-104. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(83)90029-6

    Part 2: Different authors, same name, same year

    two zombies writing

    Sometimes you might cite two or more works by different authors who have the same surname. If they have been written in different years this isn’t a problem, your reader will be able tell the apart. But what if they have been written in the same year?

    Add each authors’ initials to the citation, before the surname:

    (F. Parker, 2011) and (J. Parker, 2011)

    Now when your reader looks at your reference list it is clear which work is which:

    Parker, F. (2011). What would Foucault Think about Speed Runs, Jeep Jumps, and Zombie? In L. Cuddy (Ed.), Halo and Philosophy: Intellect Evolved (pp. 161-175). Chicago: Open Court.

    Parker, J. (2011). Our zombies, ourselves: why we can’t get the undead off our brains. Atlantic Monthly, 307(3), 32-33.

    Ahh, but what if the authors have the same surname and the same initial? Then you should write their given names in full:

    (James Parker, 2011) and (John Parker, 2011).

    Part 3: Multiple authors, same first author, same year

    Okay, this is getting complicated now. Bear with me.

    Quite often you will get research teams working together and writing papers together, and sometimes they will write several papers in a year.

    research team

    If you are familiar with the APA 6th style of referencing used here at Salford you will already know that when you have a work with three to five authors you list all their names the first time you cite the work, and in subsequent citations, just the first author followed by et al. – which is an abbreviation for “and others”.

    So if you have a work written by five people list all their names the first time you cite it, like this (Maxwell, Scourfield, Holland, Featherstone, & Lee, 2012) and then when you cite it again you only need to name the first author followed by et al., like this (Maxwell et al., 2012).

    But what if Maxwell and her research team wrote more than one paper in 2012?
    They did.
    Here’s the other one: (Maxwell, Scourfield, Featherstone, Holland, & Tolman, 2012).

    In a case like this you can’t use (Maxwell et al., 2012) for subsequent citations, because you won’t be able to tell which work is which in the reference list.

    To differentiate them you need to add more authors until the citations are unique.

    In this example the first two authors are the same so you will have to list the first three authors in subsequent citations: (Maxwell, Scourfield, Featherstone, et al., 2012) and (Maxwell, Scourfield, Holland, et al., 2012).

    To sum all of this up: if you can’t tell which reference a citation is pointing to, add more information to the citation until you can.

    Finding databases for Computing, Science and Engineering

    7 June 2016

    When you have an assignment or dissertation to write you will need to find information to support your argument. As well as books you will need to use journal articles, as they can provide highly-specialised, up-to-date, and properly researched and verified information.

    The Library subscribes to a wide range of databases which allow you to search across thousands of journals at once, to help you find exactly the information you need to help you write your assignment.

    To find the best databases for your subject area, start at Library Search.

    Library Search - databases and sign in link

    • Click the Databases link.
    • Scroll down the menu to find your subject area.

    database lists

    • When you have selected your subject click the Submit button.
    • You will see a list of results like this:

    database results

    There are lists for the following subject areas:

    • Acoustics
    • Aeronautical Engineering
    • Audio and Video Technology
    • Civil Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Data Communications
    • Gas and Petroleum Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Mechancial Engineering
    • Physics
    • Robotics and Automation

    As well as journal articles, our databases provide access to all sorts of other information: e-books, conference papers, standards, theses, broadcasts and more.

    Have a look and see what is available for you to use.

    What sorts of information do I need?

    29 October 2015

    Have you got an assignment and are thinking of heading to the Library to look for information to help you write it?

    Excellent! The Library is a great place to start your research.

    You probably already know that the Library has books and journals and encyclopaedias and reports and all sorts of other useful things, and that you can find them online too.

    information sources

    But are you wondering what these all things are, when you need them, what you should use them for, and how to find them?
    See our eLearning – Types of information sources for your assignments.

    resources player

    Click the image to start.