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Library Essentials

New to NUS? Welcome to Library Essentials!



Before starting an assignment, understand the deliverables


Deadline? Relative Value (McAdoo, 2015)

Enough time?

Marked your calendar?

Plan time well to prevent last-minute crams

Any clashes with other tasks?

Spend more time on assignments with higher grade weightage

Prioritise and manage your time

 Assignment requirements?  For groupwork

Understand what is expected

Clarify doubts with your professor so that

Waste of time in correction of errors can be avoided

Set up a collaboration and file-sharing platform (e.g. Google Docs) 

Plan schedules with your groupmates

Make sure that the workload is allocated fairly beforehand



When doing your assignment, note the following depending on the nature of your assignment

Apart from your lecture notes, your module will include readings (compulsory and supplementary)

  • The lecture notes and readings provide background information to do your assignment sufficiently
  • The more you know about your topic, the better you will be able to write knowledgably about it!
  • Where do you find the uploaded readings? Two places - LumiNUS and RBR


 Online Readings Print Readings
  • Lecture notes
  • Digitised book chapters
  • Scanned pages
  • Journal articles
  • Links to readings

You can find them in LumiNUS under your module's Library Resources.

Or under Description or Readings.

Another name for Library Resources is e-reserves!

Click image below for more info

  • Compulsory textbook(s)
  • Supplementary readings
  • Check module reading list
  • Available on a 2-hour loan

You can search your module code via the library search engine.

RBR is a section located at the library.

And stands for Reserve Books and Readings.

Click image below for more info


 Assignments and homework: Understand how your assignment content can be derived

 Research-based  Problem-solving
E.g. Research projects, mini-essays

Heavily dependent on topic choice

Do you get to choose your topic?

Reliant on research done by others

E.g. Close-ended short problems

More bounded than research-based

Focus on skills taught e.g. lab workflow

Lecture notes and readings may suffice!


Your assignment may include elements of both research and problem-solving e.g. proposing a solution for a case study.

Is your topic decided in the assignment requirement or up to you to develop and scope? 

Topic is set - refer to Assigned Readings and Writing Assignment.

Topic is to be developed - is your topic researchable? 

  • It is important to choose a topic that is researchable 
  • There will be nothing to support your points if there is no literature on it 
  • e.g. if you would like to write about lampshades, but a Google Scholar search yields 0 scholarly articles. 
  • The video below will illustrate



Limited by Assignment Requirements

  • ​Make sure that your topic fits your assignment requirements. 
  • Make sure the topic scope you choose allows you enough time to develop and complete a quality assignment
  • If you are unsure, check with your professor. 
  • You could ask after class or drop an email! 

Interesting to You 

  • Choose a topic that you find meaningful or draws your interest in some ways
  • The writing process will be made much easier because you are learning about something that interests you personally! 

Need more rigorous information on finding a research topic? Contact us at

You need to support your assignment work with scholarly sources too. Why is it important? 

  • Assigned readings only give one aspect i.e. the lecturer's chosen perspectives on the topic.
  • You want to demonstrate that your assignment is of good quality and well-informed.
  • Research from a comprehensive variety of sources other than given readings to provide a wider range of perspectives on the topic.
  • Support your arguments or points with extra readings to show that you have done a thorough investigation of the topic! 
  • Sources that are not scholarly may be unreliable sources.
Some Recommended Starting Points to Find More Full-Text Scholarly Sources


Some effective research tools you will find VERY USEFUL for your searching process, in order of common use and simplicity:

Have you selected the best information to cite in your assignment? 

  • Too much information? 
  • Don't know which ones are best to cite in your assignment? 
  •  The CRAAP Test can help you think critically about the information you come across and select only the best information to use. 


For more on evaluating information using the CRAAP method, watch the video below: 

The above video is © NUS Libraries, All Rights Reserved

This work by Lisette Blanco-Cerda is licensed under a CC BY NC SA 4.0 International License 

Are you citing all materials used?

  • Using a software like Zoterobib can help. It helps to
    • Create a bibliography or reference list
    • Generate in-text citations 
    • No installation required - just go to
  • To see importance of citing in avoiding plagiarism, click here


Zoterobib Library Guide:  

Final touches before submission


Proofread?  Formatting? 
  • Check grammar and spelling 
  • Minimise mistakes = thoughtful and professional work 
  • Proper formatting = professional, pleasant read
  • Some features to look out for: 
  • Font - some fonts, although pretty, are difficult to read.
  • Font size - don't make your reader squint! 
  • Page numbers 
  • Cite all works to avoid plagiarism
  • Acknowledge copyrighted materials used
  • [if applicable] Have you conducted a preliminary Turnitin check? 

Know When to Stop! 
  • Law of diminishing marginal returns
  • Don't over-add information that may
  • Detract from your sufficiently whole argument
  • Or appear too long-winded
  • There will always be more information to include
  • Know when to stop


McAdoo, M. L. (2015). The student’s survival guide to research (pp. 59-72). Chicago: Neal-Schuman