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Library Essentials

New to NUS? Welcome to Library Essentials!

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NUS Libraries subscribes to a plethora of paid e-resources for the NUS community to support learning, teaching and research. Use them appropriately and responsibly

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Does copyright arise automatically or is registration required? Are ideas, titles and logos copyrighted?

We've listed 6 basic concepts about copyright in the video below:

1 Copyright protection is automatic in Singapore
2 Copyright does not protect ideas but the expression of ideas
3 Categories of Copyright: LDMA, Sound Recordings and Films
4 Rights in Copyright: Copy, Publish, Perform, Communicate and Adapt
5 Copyright is a balance between the owners and the public
6 Copyright does not last forever

Find out more in this guide about copyright for teaching, learning and research

Finding Open Source Content

Images, sounds and music can be used in presentations or other content you create to raise engagement and provide valuable context. If you are seeking freely available content for use in your projects, the following guide might be useful: 

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Plagiarism vs. Copyright

The difference between plagiarism and copyright is that plagiarism is an infringement of the copyright owner's right to be identified whereas copyright infringement is using copyrighted works without permission

Ensure that you aren't accidentally infringing someone's copyright when you re-use images, text, or other materials.

We've listed lots of examples in the video below (click image to access)

Copyright Infringement Plagiarism

Is an offence/prohibited under the:
Copyright Act
NUS Student Code of Conduct

Is prohibited under the:
NUS Student Code of Conduct

Legal in nature

Traditionally, moral/ethical in nature

(update: new right of identification under Copyright Act 2021)

Taking someone's right to commercially exploit the work

Taking someone's right to be acknowledged for their work.

Deceiving others that the work is your own.

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A General Message to Our Students on the Use of AI Tools

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TOOLS such as ChatGPT are now essentially costless and no longer require special expertise to use. As part of the repertoire of tools available in the modern world, we understand how you–our students–might be drawn to using them. It is also likely employers and stakeholders will soon assume that graduates have a basic competency for using such tools, just like how they now assume that new hires are able to use calculators, spreadsheets, and word processing software.

That said, there are some things we need you to take to heart.

FIRST, while we are fine with you experimenting with new tools, we are also wary you will end up taking shortcuts that will disadvantage you in the longer run. Consider, for instance, the different levels of capability involved in the following three scenarios:

  1. Using a tool to generate an output wholesale from inputs.

  2. Using a tool to generate intermediate outputs that are then developed into a final output through further human intervention without the use of the tool.

  3. Evaluating the output of a tool to confirm its accuracy, relevance, objectivity, and completeness.

You will need a higher level of capability in yourself to be able to do (2) and (3), as compared with doing (1), and conversely, functions that only require (1) are at a higher risk of being completely replaced by AI. The implication is that you are only cheating your future selves if you go straight to using such tools before learning the actual subject matter. If you, as a learner, take shortcuts today, you risk becoming first in line to be replaced by bots!

Since we target learning outcomes that hone higher-level capabilities, and we want our students to demonstrate originality, voice, intellectual engagement with content, rigor, and contribution to discourse, we will often need you to produce unaided work as part of your assessment. This is no different from how, even though we expect you to use calculators and spreadsheets, we still want you to learn the underlying math and computational processes. And even though we are fine with you using search engines, spelling and grammar checkers, or for that matter, lexicons and thesauri, we still want you to be able to independently organize your thoughts and produce your own compositions–so that you can assess the tools’ deliverances.

SECOND, note that normal academic rules continue to apply. As provided in the Code of Student Conduct:

The University takes a strict view of cheating in any form, deceptive fabrication, plagiarism and violation of intellectual property and copyright laws. Any student who is found to have engaged in such misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action by the University.

In this regard, representing an AI’s output as your own work is plagiarism. (See “Guidelines on the Use of AI Tools for Academic Work”.)

THIRD, do be aware that the tools typically require you to sign up for an account and accept various terms and conditions. We encourage you to be very clear about what you are accepting if you sign up for an account. You should also be aware that there are lawsuits underway challenging the intellectual property provenance of many of these tools. If they are ruled illegal (while this is unlikely, it is not impossible), there may be implications for your use as well. And finally, don’t forget that like all online tools, platforms can sometimes go down without warning, or are under such high load that their responses become too slow for use. It is thus unwise to assume that you will always have access.

All in all, we hope that you will be thoughtful about how you can advance your learning and make the most of your university education.

Acknowledgement: The above guidelines are created by the University Policy Workgroup for AI in Teaching and Learning. The Workgroup acknowledges the contributions and suggestions from various members of the NUS community, including both staff and students.

Feedback: Please contact if you have any queries related to the use of AI tools in teaching and learning.


Guidelines on the Use of AI Tools For Academic Work


The following are always improper uses of AI tools:

  • Generating an output and presenting it as your own work or idea.

  • Generating an output, paraphrasing it, and then presenting the output as your own work or idea.

  • Processing an original source not created by yourself to plagiarize it (e.g., using an AI paraphrasing tool to disguise someone else’s original work, or even the output of an AI tool, and then presenting the final output as your own work or idea).

All of the above violate NUS policies on academic honesty and anyone found to have done any of them will be dealt with accordingly. Keep in mind that even though AI tools are not authors and thus cannot be harmed by someone stealing an idea from them, it’s still wrong of you to represent yourself as having produced something when you didn’t produce it.


Whether or not using an AI tool in a particular way is allowable depends on the learning purposes of the course and the targeted outcomes of the assignment. Some possible legitimate uses include:

  • Gathering information and looking up explanations for basic concepts.

  • Generating output for critique and analysis, for self-learning, or to compare against one’s work for self-evaluation and improvement.

  • Help with proofreading and editing writing work.

The above is not meant to be comprehensive. An assignment designed to integrate the use of an AI tool, for instance, may require you to use that tool more extensively. Conversely, if there is a need to test whether you possess a certain knowledge or capability without access to AI tools or other resources, your instructors will continue to arrange for appropriate assessment settings (e.g., an on-site proctored exam or oral interview). In general, course instructors will need to impose varying restriction levels for the use of AI tools depending on the learning outcomes targeted. Whenever you have any doubts about whether an AI tool could be used for a specific assignment, or how it could be used, clarify them directly with your course instructors.


If you completed any work with the aid of an AI tool, assuming a setting in which the instructor gave permission for such tools to be used, you should always acknowledge the use. Using the outputs of an AI tool without proper acknowledgement is equivalent to lifting or paraphrasing a paragraph from a source without citation and attracts the same sanctions. You can give this acknowledgement through a note or “methods section” at the end of the assignment explaining, e.g., which AI tools were used, in which parts of the process they were used, what were the prompts used to generate results, and what you did with the outputs to add value.

One way this can be done is in a tabular form as shown below:

AI Tool used

Prompt and output

How the output was used in the assignment



Alternatively, if an AI tool was used to generate a more extensive set of intermediate outputs that were then developed into a final product, you should preserve a full transcript of the relevant interactions with the AI as an appendix for submission with your assignment. Your instructor may also require you to explicitly declare if AI tools were not used in a part of your assignment, or for the whole assignment. In all cases, seek advice from your course instructor.


Remember the limitations of current generation AI tools:

  • Output’s quality is dependent on the quality of the users’ prompts.

  • Output may be out of date, as they are dependent on the available training data.

  • Output may not be accurate (e.g., they don’t always present information that is true, the ‘citations’ they may generate may be made-up and point to non-existent sources).

  • Output may present dominant values and opinions as truth not because other views are incorrect, but simply because dominant claims are more common in the training data.

  • Output may be offensive or discriminatory, as AI tools cannot make opinions or judgment calls aligned with legal and social norms.

You should thus always assume that the AI’s output is incorrect until you have separately checked it against reliable sources (citing those sources properly) or have gone through the workings yourself. You also cannot assume that the AI’s output is relevant and sufficiently contextualized for your purposes. In some cases, the rhetorical structure of the AI’s output is usable, but the details of the content are not. Always remember that you, rather than the AI tool, are responsible for the quality and integrity of the work you submit. AI tools are tools, and as such, cannot take responsibility for any information or text that they produce.


These guidelines are framed with typical scenarios in mind, and there’s bound to be uncertainties during this transition period. So, whenever you are in doubt, clarify directly with your course instructors. If you are going for an overseas exchange, find out what the host university’s policy on the use of AI is and clarify any doubts with instructors there. Don’t assume that NUS policy is universally applicable.

Remember that just because there are legitimate uses for AI tools in your academic work, it does not mean you should resort to them at every turn, especially if you are still learning the subject matter. By jumping straight to using the tools, you may end up missing an opportunity to learn the subject matter for yourself. Furthermore, if you don’t already have the subject matter knowledge yourself, you might not even be able to tell if the output is accurate or relevant. There are often also better resources you can access. For instance, if you need help with proofreading and editing, you can turn to the NUS Libraries Writers’ Centre; you will learn more that way too!

More generally, do not be shy to approach your instructors to start conversations about how the learning outcomes they are targeting go beyond what the AI tools can deliver, and how you can use AI tools in ways that will enhance your own learning in your courses.


Acknowledgement: The above guidelines are created by the University Policy Workgroup for AI in Teaching and Learning. The Workgroup acknowledges the contributions and suggestions from various members of the NUS community, including both staff and students.

Feedback: Please contact if you have any queries related to the use of AI tools in teaching and learning.

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