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Required reading

A photo of a person sitting with a laptop surrounded by bookshelves.

The required reading for your courses can be found at the University Library. You can tell from the references on your course reading list whether you should be looking for books, chapters or articles. On this page we explain how to interpret a reading list and then search for the material you need.

Finding required reading

You can use Primo, the library’s search service, to search for books and articles. It is easiest to search by title. If you are looking for a chapter, you need to search by the title of the book in which the chapter is included. The reference in your reading list will also provide information on the year the book was published, and the edition you need. If there is no information about the edition, you can assume that you need to use the first edition.

Sometimes your reading list includes the comment “Provided by the department”. This means that that specific item is distributed by your teachers in the form of a printed compendium or as a file on Blackboard. Such materials are usually not available from the library.

Example reading list entries

Aliotta, M. (2018). Mastering academic writing in the sciences: A step-by-step guide. CRC Press.

Ndebele, H. (2020). Demystifying student plagiarism in academic writing: Towards an ‘educational’ solution. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning, 8(2), 39–54.

Simera, I. & Altman, D.G. (2016). Reporting research. In T. Greenfield & S. Greener (eds.), Research methods for postgraduates (pp. 429–39). John Wiley & Sons.

Interpreting the reading list

The three examples above are of three common types of texts you need to read for your courses: a book, a journal article, and a chapter in an edited volume.

The first reference (Aliotta, 2018) is to a book. You can see that the reference only includes a single title: Mastering academic writing in the sciences: A step-by-step guide. A reference to a chapter includes both the title of the chapter and the title of the book in which it was published. A reference to a journal article includes both the title of the article and the name of the journal.

The second reference (Ndebele, 2020) is to a journal article. No information on the publishers is included, for example. “8(2)” indicates that this article was published in volume 8, number 2 of the journal Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning. The DOI is a unique identification number given to electronic documents.

The final reference (Simera & Altman, 2016) is to a chapter in the book Research methods for postgraduates. You can see that the reference first gives the names of the authors of the chapter, and after the title of their chapter you can find the names of the editors of the book.

The references above are written according to the APA style. Please see our guide to academic writing for more information on referencing and citation, and other common referencing systems like Harvard and Vancouver.