Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Postgraduate Study Skills


Kia ora to all UOW postgraduate certificate/diploma students. This is your one stop shop for information on:

  • Advice on academic reading and writing
  • Finding information for your assignments
  • Evaluating the information
  • APA and Vancouver referencing
  • Getting started with Mendeley and Endnote (referencing software)
  • Contacts: who to get hold of for help.

This material has been developed for students working at postgraduate certificate/diploma level. Students working at a more advanced level can use it as a starting point, but will need to go more indepth than this.

^ Top of Page

Finding information

Log into the library from home:

Its important that you log into the library using your student username and password, so that you have access to all the library’s resources.

Wellington Medical Library home page

I need to find the fulltext of an article:

Here are some instructions on finding the fulltext of an article: Finding Full Text guide

I would like to locate a book:

Instructions on how to locate a book can be found in the Library Search | Ketu guide.

Request a book to be sent to my home address or picked up from the Library:

Instructions on how to request iterms in Ketu are here: Request items in Ketu - guide

^ Top of Page

Which resources should I search?

Searching Google Scholar:

Google Scholar is designed to be a quick and easy way to search the academic journal literature. Google Scholar is a free resource, but logging into the library and accessing Google Scholar from the database page will give you access to the library's collection.


Scopus is a large multidisciplinary database. It can be found on the library’s database page.
The Library’s guide on searching Scopus can be found here: Searching Scopus guide


A free database that searches the health sciences journal literature. Good for clinical topics. You can also limit to different types of evidence. Available from the Library’s database page.
The Library’s guide to PubMed is availalbe here: PubMed guide

^ Top of Page


Postgrad study requires significant academic reading. Being strategic about the way you read will help you to get the most out of the reading material and make the best use of it in your assignments. Here are some ways you can make your reading more efficient and effective this semester:

  • Read with a purpose. Before you start reading, you should have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the reading. This will affect the way you approach the reading. Reading to commit information into your long term memory suits reading strategies such as SQ3R. When you need to find out what the article is about before reading further, you can skim read. If you're looking for specific information, you can scan by anticipating words or phrases that are likely to relate to what you need, then searching for these either by reading or using the find function.
  • Use your topic reading guide. This guide gives you an overview of how the readings in each module connect. It indicates which readings give a broad overview of the topic area (and are thus good places to start reading) and which ones cover niche issues or alternative perspectives that might be more useful when you come to think about a topic in more detail later.
  • Use the abstract of the article. Read the abstract then stop and ask yourself what you can expect to learn in reading the full article. Take a moment to think about where this article is likely to build on what you already know, both in terms of your experience as a health professional and what you've learned in the course so far. You can also revisit the abstract after you finish reading to check your understanding and recall of the key points in the article.
  • Keep track of what you're reading. Start a document with some notes from the reading that you can use in the assignment, and make sure you include the reference. Knowing which ideas come from which reading will be critical when it comes to writing up your assignment. Making notes early on points that stand out to you, connections between the literature and your own workplace or links between the different articles you're reading will mean you're not starting from a blank page when it's time to write your assignments

^ Top of Page

Reading critically

Once you have started to find your way around your readings, it's time to start thinking about reading critically. Being critical or demonstrating critical thinking is a skill that is often required in postgrad study. In an academic context, being critical isn't just about finding fault with something. It's about evaluating, analysing and making connections between ideas, such as between the ideas in a reading and your experience in practice, or by synthesising multiple readings.

Critical reading starts with asking questions about the texts that you're reading. Here are four broad families of questions to ask about the material you're reading. Most of these questions are written with primary research (articles based on someone's original research) in mind but some of them will also be relevant to other material.

Where is it published?

  • Peer-reviewed academic journals have an editorial process to ensure that the material they publish has been reviewed by others with expertise in that kind of research. This helps to ensure the quality of the material they publish. These journals are also written for academic audiences and so tend to describe material in suitable depth for postgraduate writing. Other useful sources include government publications (e.g. CDC's Yellow Book), resources for healthcare practitioners (e.g. NZ Formulary) or industry journals (e.g. Kaitiaki). These tend to be reviewed by people with expertise in the relevant field but are generally written for practitioners rather than an academic audience. They are appropriate for some applied topics in the health sciences, usually alongside material from academic journals.
  • Does it use a recognised research methodology?
  • How large is the study?
  • Do the conclusions follow logically from the results?

How does it relate to other research?

  • What are the areas of agreement in the literature (where different articles identify similar problems or found similar outcomes)?
  • What are areas of disagreement?
  • How do authors define key ideas, and do their definitions match up?
  • How does this article connect to others? For example, does it propose a solution to a problem raised in another article, or approach the same issue at a different scale e.g. national approach versus at a practice level)?

How could you think about this differently?

  • Whose perspectives are covered in the literature and whose are missing?
  • What other ways of researching the issue are there and what different findings could those methods reveal?

^ Top of Page

Resources for academic writing

Here are some resources with examples of academic writing.

Manchester Phrasebank:

This is a great resource for getting to grips with saying things in an academic way. It contains lots of examples of language for introducing, defining, connecting and commenting on ideas: Academic Phrasebank

Monash Language and Learning Online:

Writing, planning and editing tutorials and examples of student writing in a range of disciplines: Essential skills for academic success

Wrasse (Writing for assignments e-library):

Examples of students' writing with lecturers' comments on what works and why: Wrasse

^ Top of Page


Most departments require students to use APA style, which is an author-date style or Vancouver style, a numbered style for citing and referencing information in assignments. Check with your lecturer to see if they have a preferred style.


The University of Queeensland guide to the APA 6th style can be found here: APA 6th referencing style

Examples of APA references and in-text citations for different kinds of sources can be found at Massey University’s APA interactive: APA Interactive

There are also a University of Otago handout on APA 6th: APA 6th citation style examples


Here is the University of Queenland’s Vancouver referencing guide: Vancouver referencing style

Here are some Vancouver style examples from the University of Otago: Vancouver citation style examples


Mendeley is a free piece of referencing software that will allow you to create citations and a bibliography.
It can be downloaded from here:
Here are some short videos on getting started with Mendeley: Mendeley - Videos and Tutorials
Here is the Library’s guide to using Mendeley: A Beginner's Guide To Using Mendeley


Endnote is a piece of referencing software that will allow you to create citations and a bibliography.
To obtain a copy of Endnote, fill in the following application form and send to ITS at Otago: Student Endnote Licence Request Form
For information on getting started with Endnote see this guide: EndNote X9
Note: if you are new to using referencing sofware, then you may be better to start with Mendeley, which is easier to use.

^ Top of Page

Postgraduate webinar programme

The programme for seminar one is listed below. These start at 8pm on Mondays on the dates below.

The sessions are mainly facilitated by Emma Osborne, Learning Support Advisor and Donna Tietjens, Head of Reference Services, Wellington Medical and Health Sciences Library.

All postgraduate students will be emailed with the Zoom URL. For further information please contact Donna Tietjens,

All the sessions are recorded and will be able to be viewed below.

Date Topic Facilitators Academic host
18th Feb (8-8.30pm) Searching for information for your assignments Donna Tietjens & Michael Fauchelle
25th Feb No session this week
4th Mar (8-9pm) The well-structured essay Emma Osborne Lesley Gray
11th Mar (8-9pm) Writing and structuring a paragraph Emma Osborne Eileen McKinlay
18th Mar No session this week
25th Mar (8-9pm) Referencing Donna Tietjens & Eileen McKinlay
1st Apr No session this week
8th Apr (8-9pm) Writing case based assignments Emma Osborne Caroline Morris

^ Top of Page

Recordings of the study skill sessions

All webinar sessions are recorded. The recordings have been uploaded into a Blackboard paper called UOW Postgrad Study Skills Vidoconferences. Log into Blackbaord with your student username and password.

On the left hand side there is a link called zoom recordings s1. Click on that to access the recordings.

Any problems, please contact Donna Tietjens,

^ Top of Page

Free Office software for Students

Students have free access to Microsoft Office including Excel, Word, OneNote, and Powerpoint while studying. To download this software or for more information see: Microsoft Office 365

^ Top of Page

Online Courses from GoSkills

If you're rusty on your MS Office skills or just want a bit of a refresher, Otago offers a range of free online training sessions through GoSkills. Training sessions include:

  • Excel Spreadsheets
  • Powerpoint
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Outlook

These courses are free to students. You'll need your email address to access these - more information is on IT Training - Course Details

^ Top of Page

Useful Contacts

Wellington Campus
Coordinator Student Experience Administration, registration and general enquiries relating to Wellington campus. Trevor Williams
Tel +64 4 389 5543
Mobile 027 275 9921
Learning Advisor - Wellington Student support and assistance for study related issues. Workshops on academic writing, oral presentations and study skills. Emma Osborne
Tel +64 4 806 1593
Wellington Medical and Health Sciences Library

Searching for information (books, articles, database searching)

Help with referencing software (EndNote, Mendeley)

Questions about online resources or access.

Help tracking down the full text of an article

Tel +64 4 385 5914
Web Wellington Medical and Health Sciences Library
University of Otago - Dunedin
Ask Otago

General University Assistance, including IT queries

Telephone Registration

Tel 0800 80 80 98 (New Zealand Freephone)
+64 3 479 7000
ID Cards Wellington Distance ID cards
Web Student Services Link
Disability Information & Support

Resources and support available to students who may have temporary or permanent impairments.

Tel +64 3 479 8235
Web Disability Information and Support
Distance Learning Office Supports all distance programs
Tel +64 3 479 4138
Web Distance Learning
Graduate Well-Being Coach Help with motivation, keeping up with writing targets, concentration, managing the demands of study Nikki Fahey
Web Graduate Well-being Coach
Graduation Office
Tel +64 3 479 8239
Fax +64 3 479 5490

^ Top of Page