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One fine day, a very supportive and extremely focused Vice Dean wanted to know whether his first years used academic databases for a particular assignment.

You see, the students were supposed to write on something current with a Singapore focus. He didn’t want a Google deal. “Its about time they started on academic databases. By the time they get to FYP, I want all of them to be up to speed.”

As far as TNL is concerned, the least invasive, least stressful way of finding out if these students were using academic databases is to look at their bibliographies. You know, those lists of references at the end of each paper you submit?

Think about it. These are sources (books, journal articles, research papers, web sites, etc) from which you referred to to get the information you to need to analyse and write your paper. Don’t you think perhaps the quality of these sources maybe a reflection of the quality of the paper you submit?

The question is what does TNL look out for in a bibliography?

Well, that depends on the assignment itself and what information is required to support the analysis.

There is sometimes a good mix of primary and secondary sources. Sometimes in different media types. Sometimes from government bodies, research organizations, commercial places. Sometimes the currency of the sources.

But definitely, without a doubt, only the lecturer (or rather the expert in that research area) will be able to discern the absolutely-must-haves from the by-the-way-maybes.

The next time you think it is such a gargantuan and odious task to search for sources for your assignment and put them together in a bibliogarphy, just think of what someone (like, say, a librarian) may look for when asked to (say, from a Vice Dean).

PS. Want to get academic sources for your assignment? Email your fave librarian listed in any of these subject guides.

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