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Reading Lists and Copyright Cleared Content: Best Practice Guidelines

Information for Academic Staff


For more information and assistance contact the Content & Discovery Team:

For information on creating and editing your Reading Lists

For help adding digitised Copyright Clearance Content

Or speak to your Academic Librarian about resource availability:

Academic Librarian webpage

Recommended formats for Online Reading Lists

Although there are no fixed rules of how to arrange your Online Reading List you may find the following layouts useful. You may need to mix elements from more than one style. But your list should be well-laid out and clear for students to follow.

1. Identifying core/key/primary texts and add other resources as secondary or further reading

For an example click here: Core texts list

2. Using themes. Very useful for broader subjects

For an example click here: Themes list

3. Directing students with weekly reading. This may be further expanded with a section of further reading

For an example click here: Weekly reading list

Academics working on  UDOL lists have their own recommended layout

For an example click here: UDOL reading list


Model for List Management and Development



Best Practice

- Structure lists to guide students’ learning - e.g. recommend key texts and background reading, use weeks or themes/topics. Example of best practice provided online, or check with your academic librarian

- Keep lists current – e.g. use the most recent edition of a title. If you use an older edition add a note to explain why. Update and review your lists on a regular basis

- Keep lists relevant – e.g. Identify core journals and databases to support students’ wider learning rather than listing everything that is available

- Manage students' expectations - if an item is unobtainable (e.g. out of print), you should consider if it is really necessary to include it. We would recommend that resources students cannot easily or freely obtain should not be included on Online Reading lists

- Use E-Resources to increase access for as many students as possible - e.g. e-books, e-journal articles, Copyright Cleared Content. Your academic librarian would be happy to advise

- Use innovative technology or resources to make lists active - e.g. video clips from Box of Broadcasts, YouTube

- Consider the length of the list - With lengthy lists students are not always sure what to priorotise. In addition, maintaining lists with hundreds of items is onerous on the Academic and academic librarian!

- Joint Honours Students - if your students are studying under the Joint Honours programmes you should consult with colleagues on terminology and formats to create a consistent learning experience

What is expected of Academics?

  1. The University Threshold Standards stated that every module should have an online reading list.  The new draft TEL strategy also provides for a “University baseline for programmes” to include online reading lists
  2. Each list should have a named member of academic staff as ‘owner’ of the list.  This will allow them to create and edit lists, and enable the Library to follow up any issues
  3. Staff should follow the Best Practice Guidelines in this LibGuide  to create a high quality reading list that will guide and direct students’ learning (click on the tab 'Step by Step Guides' at the top of this page)
  4. Staff should review or update lists annually to ensure currency of content
  5. Online reading lists should be the definitive list, above pre-validation lists or lists in module handbooks, because of their greater interactive capabilities to enrich the student experience
  6. Consult your academic librarian for advice on appropriate available resources