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How to create a great Reading List

In consultation with Chris Hughes and Gwen Van Der Velden, on behalf of the University’s Education Quality Committee, the guidelines below have been created to help you and your students to get the most benefit from your reading lists.

Students find online reading lists helpful for their learning – when we asked them what made a ‘good’ reading list, here are some of their comments:

I find it useful when my reading list is concise and clear – often there are specific chapters which are recommended
I particularly like the subheadings/annotations of ‘essential’, ‘further reading’ and ‘recommended’ as they help me plan which books I will read and when
I like it when there are questions to answer when reading, as this helps me focus on what I'm reading
Inter-connectivity between books; i.e. it's nice to have book that complement and contrast others on the list. This really helps you understand the nuances of any given period better
I believe it is also important that a reading list is manageable. This would perhaps mean that the resources vary in length. For example, a good reading list would include short introductory works, as well as more comprehensive works

To summarise, in order to be most useful for students, reading lists must:

  • Provide clear structure – ideally by week / term / topic to enable students to plan ahead with their studies
  • Indicate clearly which texts students are expected to purchase, which readings are essential and which are further or background, to enable them to prioritise their readings effectively
  • Provide essential seminar readings electronically where possible (as an e-book, e-journal article or a scanned copy) to ensure all students are able to complete the required reading
  • Ideally contain no more than 100 individual items, and provide clear information for students on how to engage effectively with the list. Students benefit from clarity of expectation, and readings which are realistic / achievable

To submit your list to the Library, it needs to:

  • Be updated / inputted in Talis Aspire, or sent to the Library as a document as early as possible (ideally before 31 July)
  • Indicate the number (estimated if not known exactly) of students taking the module
  • Indicate reading importances for each item on the list: at Warwick we use 4 categories of reading importance: student purchase, essential, recommended, or further. For each item on your list you should select a reading importance and this will then determine what format and / or number of copies is purchased. Most lists include a combination of essential and further (or background) readings.
  • Clearly indicate when a scan of a key chapter / section of an essential text is required
  • Ideally be clearly structured by week / term

Timelines 2020/21

  • 4th May: All 2019/20 published lists on Talis Aspire also became available as 2020/21 drafts for editing / publishing (‘rollover’). Please note: Draft lists are not visible to students – they only become visible once published
  • May – July: All teaching staff to:
    • login to Talis Aspire – creating a profile if prompted – to check whether a reading list for their module is already on the system (search Warwick Reading Lists for modules)
    • If a Reading List is already on Aspire and if the module is running in 2020/21: check the draft, make any changes required – in particular ensure that all essential and recommended readings are available electronically - and publish
    • If a Reading List is not on Aspire and/or help and support is needed: contact: (readinglists dot library at warwick dot ac dot uk) for help and advice in setting up a new list and linking it to the correct module in the hierarchy
  • May – October: Library will offer drop in training on Talis Aspire. Bespoke sessions for your Department can also be arranged on demand. At the current time, all such training will be on-line (via Teams or similar)
  • May – October: Library staff will be focused on processing lists as they arrive, in date order. We may contact you if there are any elements of your list which require clarification and / or if your list is particularly long

Purchase criteria and online readings

  • In order to deliver effective online teaching it is essential that students have online access not only to teaching materials, but also to all their key reading materials
  • It is therefore critical that all essential and recommended readings are made available electronically – as e-books, e-journal articles or as copyright cleared article or chapter scans
  • Please note that not all books are available in e-book form
    • Please also note that limited elements of a work can legally be scanned - you can copy up to the following amount for each module, whichever is the greater:
    • one whole chapter from a book
    • one whole article from a magazine/journal issue
    • one whole scene from a play
    • one whole paper from a set of conference proceedings
    • one whole report of a single case from a volume of judicial proceedings
    • one short story, poem or play (not exceeding 10 pages in length) from an anthology
      • or    
    • 10% of the total publication
  • We will contact you if a book you have included as essential or recommended reading is not available in e-book format and we can help you to identify alternative sources you may wish to recommend

Our aim is to ensure that students can complete the reading they need to and to support them in their reading strategies. In the current circumstances, this means that the Library will:

  • Purchase e-books for essential and recommended readings (and will secure the best possible e-book access model), and will not purchase more than a single print copy
  • Work with you to identify alternative readings to those not available as e-books
  • Only purchase print materials where these are included as further reading and where there is no e-book alternative

Contact us for help

        Our Reading Lists team (readinglists dot library at warwick dot ac dot uk) and your Academic Support Librarian are happy to help with any queries you might have.