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Library Essentials

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Watch this space in early July for updates!



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

Track deadline using 'countdown' on phone app

Any clashes with other tasks?

Spend more time on assignments with higher grade weightage

Prioritise and manage your time

Use a checklist to manage priorities and deliverables

 Assignment requirements?  For groupwork

Understand what is expected

Clarify doubts with your professor 

Avoid loss of time in the correction of errors 

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

Plan schedules with your groupmates

Make sure that the workload is fairly allocated 



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 knowledgeably about it
  • Where would you find the uploaded readings? In two places : Canvas and RBR


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

To find your online readings, 

Go to Canvas : your module's Course Readings.

Course Readings FAQs can be found here.








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

To find your print readings.

Search your module code via the library search engine.

Your required readings will be located at RBR.

It is a section located at the library.

And stands for Reserve Books and Readings.

Click image below for an example of what to expect.



If your topic is set for you, refer to your Assigned Readings (previous tab) and Assignment Requirements (below).

If your topic is to be developed, ask yourself if your topic can be researched? 

  • It is important to choose a topic that you can find sources of information
  • There will be nothing to support your paper if there is no literature on the topic. For example, you would like to write about lampshades but a Google Scholar search shows 0 scholarly articles
  • The video below will illustrate



Limited by Assignment Requirements

  • ​Make sure that your topic fits your assignment requirements
  • Remember to scope your topic to allow yourself time to develop and complete a quality assignment
  • If you are unsure, check with your professor

Interesting and meaningful to you

  • Choose a topic that you find meaningful or piques your interest in some ways
  • The writing process will be much easier as you are learning about something that intrigues you


Ask yourself questions to help you scope your topic. Watch the video below by using the 5W1H Framework!


To get a feel of how much information there is on the topic of your interest and choice, you can seek out Wikipedia for a quick search. Wikipedia is increasingly used by academics even though it is not considered a credible source. Despite its potential inaccuracies, it can also be a gold mine for research information and a good starting point for your topic.




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

Literature Review

  • After you have picked a topic, how do you go about working on your assignment?
  • Watch the video below to learn how you can do a literature review in three simple steps. Discover lots of information, evaluate and cite the information that you use.



You need to support your assignment with scholarly sources. Why is this important? 

  • Assigned readings would provide the lecturer's views on the topic
  • Research from a comprehensive variety of sources beyond given readings provides other perspectives
  • Supporting your arguments with extra research shows that you have done a thorough literature search
  • Sources that are not scholarly may not be reliable. Click here for more info about the types of information sources.
Some recommended starting points to find full-text scholarly sources:


Why can't we just use Google for research? Let's compare Library Databases vs Google/Google Scholar

FindMore (Library search engine)

Library Databases

Google Scholar/Google

Good starting point for (discovery) for quick search

Results are more focused

Retrieves many search results

Allows searching NUS Libraries collection with one search

Results may include those not found in FindMore

Limited methods to filter results

Combines Google-like search

Better search features and control, e.g., specific field search, relevance ranking, etc

Provides a simple way to do a broad search for scholarly literature across disciplines and sources like books and articles

Find out what is available if unsure of what database to use

Need to evaluate results retrieved



Watch the video below on what you can do when you hit a paywall in your literature search.

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

  • Is there too much information? 
  • Don't know which sources to cite? 
  • The CRAAP Test can help you critically evaluate and select the best information.


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

For evaluating non-scholarly information e.g. media sources, click here.

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 that you use?

  • Using Zoterobib can help. It helps to
    • Create a bibliography or reference list
    • Provide citations and bibliography with no software installation required - just go to
  • To learn the importance of citing in order to avoid plagiarism, click here


Watch the video below on citation basics in academia.



Doing your Assignment

  • ​Ensure that your assignment has an introduction, where the first paragraph should introduce the key issues of your topic. Explain how you plan to address them.
  • In the body of your assignment, support your statements with evidence such as statistics or by quoting other authors. Remember to attribute your sources by using in-text citations and adding these to your reference list as you write.
  • In your conclusion, summarise your key arguments to make an impact on your reader (your professor). Do not introduce new ideas here.
  • If you are faced with writer's block, take a short break and come back to writing later. Alternatively, you could also work on another section of your assignment to find inspiration or new ideas.
  • Need more help doing your assignment? Contact us at



Final touches before submission


Proofread?  Formatting? 
  • Check grammar and spelling 
  • Minimise mistakes 
  • Proof-read and be thorough
  • Be professional
  • Proper formatting for ease of reading
  • Insert page numbers 
  • Observe font size and type
  • Ensure citations are indented, if the style requires 
  • Check with your professor on the citation style to use
  • Cite all works and attribute sources to avoid plagiarism
  • Acknowledge copyrighted materials used
  • Check that in-text citations are in the bibliography
  • Do check your references for accuracy and completeness
  • [if applicable] Have you conducted a preliminary Turnitin check? 

Know When to Stop! 
  • Law of diminishing marginal returns
  • Excessive information may detract from your overall argument
  • Check that you have not gone off tangent in your paper
  • Ensure that your paper is within the assigned word count


15 foolproof tips for writing a great assignment. (n.d.). University of Essex Online. Retrieved March 19, 2022, from

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