Have you tried Balabolka?

Balabolka is a free programme for Windows that will convert text to speech. It can read aloud text copied from websites, word documents and PDFs, and can create MP3 files so you can listen on the go. balabolka

For guidance on using Balabolka, we have a detailed guidance PDF, and you can watch this short demonstration video.

You can download and install on your own Windows computer for free, with no adverts, from here.

Free, high quality Scottish voices “Stuart” and “Heather” are also available to download from here. You will be asked to complete your details before you can download them – make sure you give you Heriot-Watt email address.

For more information about software available to you as a student, visit the Information Services Software webpages and the Assistive Technology webpages.


Well done new HWU graduands!

graduation dayCongratulations to all of our students who are graduating this autumn in ceremonies held in the UK (14th & 15th November), Dubai (27th & 28th November), Malaysia (3rd December) and Moscow (13th October).

We hope you enjoy your ceremony and have an excellent time with your family and friends.

If you are leaving us remember that you can continue to use our library services as an alumnus – see Borrowing from HWU libraries for more information (look under Who can join HWU library).

With our very best wishes for a happy and successful future.

Vision: Service Interruption 18th November 2017

Our Managed Hosting Company (Blackboard) will be performing essential maintenance at their datacentre in Amsterdam on Saturday 18th November 2017

This has been scheduled for

23:00 on 17/11/2017 to 05:00 on 18/11/2017 GMT

While Blackboard will keep downtime to a minimum, Vision will be unavailable at some time during the maintenance window, and should be considered to be at risk throughout.vision20171118

See System Status page for updates.

Academic staff – call for reading lists…

Stack of Library BooksReading lists for items for the start of semester 2 should be received by 20th November 2017.

Please note that if your reading list has no changes from last year you do not need to submit it again.

Please let us know about new books or editions that you want, or if the number of students on your course has greatly increased (we will then need your reading list and number of students).  If your course is completely new please submit your full reading list with plenty of time for us to provide all the books.

Recommended reading

Via email – please send us the following information:

  • Title and code of the course
  • Details of the items needed (as much information as possible is helpful, e.g., author, title, ISBN, publisher, year, edition)
  • Number of expected students
  • If an item is a key text
  • If the item is to be available as a three hour loan (rather than for week or standard ( 16 week) loan)
  • If there is a reason to provide a print rather than an eBook copy as we will be giving preference to eBook copies of titles where available as this provides access to all HWU students.

Edinburgh or Orkney Campuses

If books are needed at the Edinburgh or Orkney campuses please send your reading lists to libord@hw.ac.uk with the information above or use the book order form.

Dubai or Malaysia Campuses

If you also need copies of books to be available at the Dubai and/or Malaysia campuses please contact their libraries directly as they place their own orders for stock. They can be contacted at DubaiLibHelp@hw.ac.uk and MYLibrary@hw.ac.uk respectively.

Scottish Borders Campus

If books are for the Scottish Borders Campus please contact J.H.McIntyre@hw.ac.uk

IDL students

If books on your course are needed by IDL students please make sure that the books are available as eBooks before your list is given to students. Unfortunately not all titles are available as eBooks and IDL students have previously reported problems reading material recommended by staff. Please let me know if you want more information about this.

ALP students

If titles on your course are needed by ALP students please be aware that we do not purchase books for ALP libraries and individual ALP libraries are responsible for their own purchasing. However ALP students do have access to our eResources so will be able to use any eBooks on reading lists.

Via the online form (for Edinburgh and Orkney campuses only currently):

Items on reading lists can also be requested using the book request form which is accessed from the link on the “Suggest a book” page . Please select ‘Yes’ from the drop down menu at the first question ‘Is this book on a reading list?’.

Wider reading

To request books to support students’ wider reading for research, dissertations, theses, projects etc please again use the request form link on the “Suggest a book” page  and select ‘No’ from the drop down menu at the first question ‘Is this book on a reading list?’. These items are automatically forwarded to the School’s Library Representative for approval and will not be purchased until he or she has approved them.

Journal articles and book chapters

If you require online copies of book chapters or journal articles, then this can be done through our digital copies service.

If you have any questions please contact Ellen Peacock, Aquisitions & Metadata Manager (e.peacock@hw.ac.uk Ext 3573)

Study tips for successful revision: Study Buddies & Study Groups

studygroupIt’s week 8 already – a good time to find a study buddy or join a study group and start early with exam preparation. If you haven’t found the right study group start your own.   Agree a regular time to meet and book one of our Group Study Rooms (Edinburgh campus) or check out the other study spaces across your campus and decide where to meet.

Research shows that studying and revising with a study buddy or with a group really boosts retention and more importantly your understanding of a topic or concept. Test each other. Past exam papers are a good source of practice questions – if you can’t find them on Vision ask your lecturer if they can make some available.   Within the study group take turns to explain the concept/idea or the workings of a problem or formulae – everyone benefits, especially the student doing the explaining!

Don’t miss the exam survival sessions in November

This National Stress Awareness day – some reminders about how we can help as the semester moves into course work hand in time and then exams.

The NSS highlights exams are one of the top reasons for stressed students – so don’t miss the Exam Survival Guide and How to Manage Exam Stress Power Hours later this month – each session is full of useful tips and  techniques to help you survive and succeed in your exams.


And remember – if you are feeling stressed you don’t need to cope alone – there’s lots of support available across HWU e.g. Health and Wellbeing, Academic Study SkillsChaplaincy – so get in touch – we’re here to help.

New Student Quiz winners 2017

We have had an excellent response to our new student quiz in Vision with a total of 836 students taking part and a total of 165 all correct entries.

  • Dubai: 184 entries; 31 all correct
  • Edinburgh: 491 entries; 85 all correct
  • Malaysia: 121 entries; 39 all correct
  • Orkney: 10 entries; 6 all correct
  • SBC: 30 entries; 4 all correct

The prize winners – selected at random from the all correct answers – have collected their prizes of gift vouchers for local cinemas, food outlets etc.

Dubai Campus
Winners were James Mathew, Ibrahim Qureshi and Rakesh Rai

Edinburgh Campus
Winners were Elie Younes (PG/EPS), Toni Baird (UG/EGIS) and Megan Ongley (UG/MACS)

Toni Baird, UG, EGIS

Malaysia Campus
Winners were Xiu Jui Woo, Rubini Vijayasuriar and Mohamad Aminuddun

Orkney Campus
Winners were Jack Sheehy (PG/EGIS) and Stuart Bevan (PG/EGIS)


Scottish Borders Campus
Winners were Maeve Kilcullen (UG/TEX),  India Gill (UG/TEX) and Amy MacKenzie (UG/TEX)


Maeve receiving her voucher from Jamie McIntyre, Campus Library Manager

We hope you found it a bit of fun, but also a useful introduction to the services and support offered by Information Services – and to Vision itself.

Thank you to everyone that took part.

Open Access Week – create/link your ORCID ID and win some OA prizes!

oa week 2017Heriot-Watt Research Support This week is Open Access Week, an international event to promote the benefits of open access.

To promote scholarly communication, we would like to invite all researchers and post-graduate research students to register for an ORCID ID, let us know, and enter into a prize draw.  If you already have an ORCID ID, did you know you can link your Pure and ORCID profiles?

ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher, and through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automatic linkages between your professional activities.

Create an ORCID ID

Academic staff can create an ORCID ID from within Pure – see video – or synchronise your ORCID and Pure profiles.

Please let us know of your new ORCID ID: email open.access@hw.ac.uk or tweet us @OpenResHWU

All entries by 30th October 2017.

More information


Heriot-Watt Research Support

Get Safe Online Week 2017

Get Safe Online week starts today in the UK.  The key theme this year is phishing – and how to reduce the chances of getting caught.

National Stats reveal that

  • Younger people are more likely to be victims of phishing than older people:
    • 11 per cent of 18-24 year olds have been a victim of phishing
    • 5 per cent of 55+ year olds have been a victim of phishing
  • This is despite the fact that older people are more likely to be targeted:
    • 36 per cent of 18-24 year olds have been targeted by phishing, but have not fallen victim to it
    • 47 per cent of 55+ year olds have been targeted by phishing, but have not fallen victim to it
  • This indicates younger people are less savvy when it comes to phishing than older people

Visit Get Safe Online for more info and advice.


Libraries Week – Discover something new online

As Libraries Week draws to a close, we wanted to remind you that we’re more than just a Building. As well as the Academic Support and Liaison Librarians and our other Services and Resources staff, the Library provides you with access to a range of resources for your study and research. Many of these resources are available online.

Last year we spent £1.6 million on books, journals and databases – here’s three ways you can easily access them, and maybe discover something new:


As well as searching for physical books and journaldiscovery_logo_2017s, our search tool Discovery searches over 90 databases to provide direct access to thousands of articles. It can be accessed from the Find Resources page or directly at https://discovery.hw.ac.uk


Our Find Resources pagealso has a number of guides to help you use Discovery to find what you need, whether you’re looking for a specific book or article, or searching on a particular topic.

Subject Guides

Our Academic Support and Liaison Librarians have constructed guides on every subject to help you find the most relevant resources. The Subject Guides also have a lot of other information on Literature Search, Citing and Referencing, and more. They can found from the IS Guides web page.

A-Z Database List

The A-Z Database list, available from the top of Discovery, is a list of all the resources we have. We always recommend searching individual databases as well as Discovery, especially as over 120 of our databases are not included in Discovery. You can filter the list of resources by subject as well as whether or not they are included in Discovery.

As well as academic databases, this list also includes Cite Them Right, an online guide to Harvard Referencing, and Skills 4 Study Campus, the online course in study skills based on The Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell.

And finally…

Information Services also facilitates access to a range of other software for you, which you can get for free as a Heriot-Watt student. More information can be found on the Software page.

EndNote is a reference management program that allows you to store all of your references in one place and generate lists of formated references, or directly insert citations into your Microsoft Word document. Whilst EndNote is desktop based a


nd only available on Information Services managed PCs, there is a web based version called EndNote Online, which can be accessed from anywhere. For more information, see our Software Guides and Tutorials page.





Help and Support


There are lots of ways you can get help and support using our resources. You can contact the Academic Support and Liaison Librarians at LibHelp@hw.ac.uk, check out the IS Guides page or attend a Power Hour. Slides and handouts from our Power Hours are also available on Vision under the ‘My Organisations’ section.