Starting on your Honours year thesis or Masters/Phd dissertation but not sure where to search? Here are 6 things you should do:
1. Do 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 a subject specific database. 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. Don’t forget to use the proxy bookmarklet to access paid articles via our subscriptions.
- Use FindMore@NUSL. This is a new search service that locates books, journal articles, newspaper articles, dissertations and theses in one search. While no single search can be 100% comprehensive, FindMore@NUSL searches over 160 million items at a time.
2. Manage your references and citations with EndNote
Citing and proper referencing can be a chore. Take some of the pain out of it by learning how to use 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.
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 + proxy bookmarklet 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.
Tay Chee Hsien Aaron