In this post, Christine Love-Rodgers, College Lead for Library Academic Support (CAHSS), provides an in-depth assessment of the University’s first Dissertation Week event that took place in November 2019…
The University of Edinburgh Library held its first Dissertation Week on November 11-15 2019. This week was all about how the Library can support the student dissertation experience: from exploring what library resources are available to support a research question, to managing the bibliographic and research data students find. We wanted to offer a holistic library experience for students and staff that brought together digital library resources, Special Collections, research skills, and research support in the same space.
Making the Most of Your Dissertation Week : 11-15 November
During Dissertation Week, 22 events highlighted the training, support and resources we offer to our undergraduate and taught postgraduate students undertaking their dissertations, as well as staff supervising dissertations. A Dissertation Week blog supported a timetabled social media campaign #dissertationweek, and we created a Making the Most of your Dissertation Library Guide , which received 1310 views in November 2019.
At the heart of the week was a Dissertations Fair event on Thursday 14th November, held at the Main Library, with 11 stalls staffed by University teams, digital resource suppliers, the National Library of Scotland, and the National Museum of Scotland. 101 staff and student visitors in total attended the Dissertation Fair, and a further 70 staff and students attended the presentation sessions.
What staff thought
Several dissertation course convenors for schools and subject areas across the University were able to attend the Dissertations Fair, and we were delighted with their obvious enthusiasm. “Absolutely brilliant”, was the comment from an MVM academic who spent at least an hour there. One member of staff had moved his timetabled classes so that his students would be able to attend the Dissertation Fair. Others talked about how they wanted to integrate the event into their future programmes for dissertation students. One commented, “We’d like to be part of a discussion about how we can make as much of this as possible available to our online students”.
What students thought
We had 122 pre-registrations for the Dissertation Fair event, which was encouraging. On the day, students were engaged and enthusiastic. One commented that the most useful part of the event had been, “Talking with all the stalls. Found out so many things and places to research I didn’t think about”. Lots of students had positive comments about the presentation sessions which gave in-depth introductions to digital resources.
Dissertation Fair Feedback
We had 68 responses to a feedback form gathered on the day of the Dissertation Fair. Based on these responses, the highest attendance at the Fair was from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science (77%), with most students coming from Social and Political Science. Slightly more students attending were PGT (38%) than any other group including UG (32%). When asked what the most useful part of the day was, key themes in responses were: more detailed knowledge of the digital resources; better knowledge of the University’s collections; and digital skills support. When asked what Dissertation Week events they would like to see, the most popular answer was more subject-specific events.
We’ll be running Dissertation Week again in the week 16-20 March 2020, with the Dissertations Fair planned for Tuesday 17 March. This time round we’ll be aiming to increase our online delivery and have more subject-focused content. A Student Experience Grant bid will give us the opportunity to employ a student to deliver new peer-to-peer learning sessions and much more.