Not sure where to start for your Honors thesis? (Or any other research projects/assignments) Here are 6 tips from your friendly librarians:
1. Start off with a broad literature review for your area of interest
Everyone knows what a literature review is, right? If you only have a vague idea, watch this video by NCSU. Back? Good. The video talks about review articles, which are articles that summarise past papers in a given area. Sounds mighty useful, doesn’t it? But how does one find them? Refer to this guide on finding review articles.
Can’t find enough relevant articles? Some options:
- Use FindMore@NUSL. This is your first stop. While no search can be 100% comprehensive, the default library search searches over 360 million items (mostly owned or subscribed by NUS Libraries. In fact, you can now try the new 2.0 version of this librarysearch . Still not enough results? Click on Log in to view even more results and access full text at the top of the screen, followed by turning on Add results beyond your library’s collection to get the broadest search possible
- Use a subject specific database. Though smaller in scope, they may cover specialized resources not included in FindMore@NUSL. No idea which ones to use? Check out the subject guides for recommended databases.
- Use Google Scholar. This does a very broad search of what Google calls “scholarly literature”, including journal articles. You can still use the proxy bookmarklet to gain access to full-text but we have now registered with Google’s Library Link Program, so you should use this method instead.
2. Manage your references and citations with EndNote
Citing and proper referencing can be a chore. While you can use some of the methods listed here to make it easier, if you are reading and citing a lot, we highly recommend learning how to use a reference manager. NUS Libraries supports use of EndNote, a reference manager that allows you to pull in references from databases such as Scopus, ScienceDirect, and JSTOR, then cite them in your preferred citation style with a single click.
Attend one of our upcoming training sessions or check out the materials from our past sessions at your own convenience.
3. Check that you have the required software and data
If you are working in a field that requires statistical data or specialised software such as statistics software, do ensure that you have access to such items. Having problems finding statistical data? Refer to some of our library guides or the following tips.
4. Set up search alerts
So the review article you found gave you a good idea of the state of art in the research area. You’ve followed up leads with tons of reading, scoped out the area and produced a top class literature review linking and summarizing the work done while showing off your knowledge of the issues. Still, your work is not yet done. To avoid missing out on the latest published material after you finish your search, set up search alerts to keep up with the latest developments.
You can set up alerts:
- based on keywords from the library catalogue for new additions to the library catalogue
- from individual databases such as Scopus, Web of Science
- from Google Scholar, using Google Scholar Alerts to access paid articles via our subscriptions.
- for your RSS feed reader using FindMore@NUSL
- at your favourite journal’s homepage (not available for all journals). You can also use the free JournalTOCs feature to setup alerts together with the proxy bookmarklet to access paid articles via our subscriptions.
For more advice on tracking relevant research see the following article.
5. Know the library services you can access as an honours or graduate student
For honors and graduate students, we provide you with additional services to aid your research, which include the following:
- Document Delivery Service. Sometimes an article you need may not be available via our subscriptions. You can request that the library obtain the article for you, but do take note of the conditions that apply. For more details, see this.
- Interlibrary loan (graduate students only). Sometimes you may want a book that none of the seven libraries have. We may purchase the book if it is still in print, or borrow it from other libraries. Check out the interlibrary loan service.
6. Consult a resource librarian
Confused by any of the above steps or need further help? You can consult a resource librarian in charge of your subject area for more specialized help.