Skip to Main Content

Library Essentials

New to NUS? Welcome to Library Essentials!

How does one start research?

The basic elements of research are organised as follows:

This research process framework is adapted from NUS Libraries' Research Skills Framework.

A. Getting Started

Before you start your research proper, it is good to understand the types of information you may potentially be dealing with. It is also good to have an idea in mind that you can work on. Once you accomplish this, half the research battle is won!

To get familiar with research, explore the information types available around you.

  • Know the common information types used in academic research and where they usually reside
  • Learn to identify the information types you need for your research topic
  • Be aware of a few recommended databases/platforms that you can start with given a research topic

To know where to find the information you need, understand how information types are produced.

  • Understand the information timeline (see below)
  • Know the differences between scholarly and non-scholarly information sources
  • Scholarly information sources
    • Include research articles, books, theses and conference proceedings
    • Peer-reviewed publications are highly sought after
    • Reside in academic platforms such as FindMore and Scopus, and on Google Scholar too
  • Non-scholarly information sources
    • Include popular sources such as news and magazine articles, trade publications, and institutional publications
    • Factiva is a good source of news and magazine articles

Ideate refers to the process of coming up with ideas and seeing new perspectives to address a topic.

  • Creates value in your writing by addressing something in a way no one has done before
  • Helps to develop a focus for your research
    Knowing how to find the right information sources, having a general background on the topic of interest, and learning to ask the right questions, all help you to ideate
  • Learn to ask the right questions using thinking tools. Various brainstorming tools and frameworks are available such as

B. Obtaining Information and Writing

The next step after you have determined your information needs and platform source(s), and established your preliminary research topic, is to start searching for information, deciding which information are worth using, writing your paper, and using information correctly through proper citation and attribution.

After you identify the information sources you need based on your research topic, you now need to search.

  • Identify relevant keywords
  • Select which platforms/databases to search
  • Run a comprehensive search with useful search techniques
  • Enable useful library tools such as LibKey Nomad to help you obtain full text materials online as you search

You would also find that when your research needs are more complex e.g. you are working on a niche research topic with limited literature available, how you search makes a huge difference!

Information comes in many types, formats and are written by many types of authors. It is important to question the information that you see, and ask whether the information is valid and usable for research. Some general considerations:

  • Is the information real or fake?
  • Is the information academic? If so, is it peer-reviewed?
  • Is the information outdated?
  • Is the information pitched to support a personal or vested interest?
  • Can you triangulate the information i.e. are there other sources reporting the same information?
  • Which information source is the original source?

After you have done your research and identified suitable information sources, the next step is to start writing.

  • Use academic writing style to write your paper
  • Your arguments must be supported by relevant information sources whenever applicable
  • Cite the information sources in your writing with an appropriate citation style using ZoteroBib, an online citation generator
  • Attribute the information sources used in your writing which should include the elements of Title of information source, Author, Source, and and License applied to the information source.

Find out more about the different citation styles @

During the course of your research, you could potentially amass a large number of information sources. Using reference management software like EndNote or Zotero can help to organize your information sources as you research, help you apply citation styles as required.

When dealing with research data, it is helpful to understand the data lifecycle of data planning, documentation, storage, sharing and long-term preservation.

Find out more about Research Data Management @

Starting a research project for the first time?

Download this research toolkit for more information!

C. Publicising your Work

Are you planning to publish your research? Learn about the ABCs behind publishing papers, resources available for research applications into industry, and how you can increase the visibility and impact of your work.

Publishing your paper is a step towards building an academic portfolio.

Learn about:

  • The publishing process
  • Common pitfalls like predatory journals
  • Open Access
  • Article Processing Charges

Find out more about Scholarly Communication and the publishing process @

Email Research Support if you need help!

Immersive technology: Have an AR/VR project in the pipeline? Want to learn how immersive tech tools can be used for your research? Find out more @

Innovation: Your research may be the groundwork towards founding a start-up, commercialising an innovation, or bringing technology from lab to market. Find out more about the resources available to empower the NUS community and stakeholders in instilling entrepreneurial mindsets and capabilities, such as:

  • Partnering NUS departments, faculties and schools in I&E related topics and research
  • Supporting the entrepreneurial community through workshops, online guides and collections
  • Connecting innovative ideas and entrepreneurial talents through I&E themed events, such as symposiums and talks.
  • Patent search and analysis
  • Standards for interoperability and benchmarking
  • Business Intelligence for consumer behaviour, market and industry analysis and company information
  • Statistics for data-driven decision making

Find out more @!

Learn how you can use a suite of high performing digital tools and services to create digital scholarship for research and teaching.

Find out more @

Resources to increase your work's visibility:

  • Deposit your research paper with NUS's institutional repository, ScholarBank@NUS
  • Bibliometrics to measure your research impact

Find out more about Research Impact and increasing your visibility @

Re-Using this Guide?
Unless otherwise stated, the contents in this guide Library Essentials © by National University of Singapore Libraries is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 . Attribute and link back to this LibGuide if you are going to re-use the content.