Interdisciplinary Faculty-Librarian Collaboration in NUS: An Insider’s View

LEE Lay Choo, Mary, Susan J.  RICKARD LIOW, & SZE Wei Ping
Master of Science (Speech & Language Pathology) Programme, Division of Graduate Medical Studies, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSoM)

Annelissa CHIN, LIM Siu Chen, & NG Tao Tao, Magdeline
NUS Libraries

In this post, the authors outline the process and benefits of developing a faculty-librarian collaboration to equip students from the Master of Science (Speech & Language Pathology) programme with information literacy skills essential for conducting systematic reviews in graduate research.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Lee, M. L. C., Rickard Liow, S. J. R., Sze W. P., Chin, A., Lim S. C., & Ng, M. T. T. (2022, June 20). Interdisciplinary faculty-librarian collaboration in NUS: An insider’s view. Teaching Connections.

Ever wondered how information literacy can be embedded into a research module in NUS? If yes, you have reached the right blog post. Gain insights into the processes, outcomes as well as benefits and challenges of a faculty-librarian collaboration, implemented to introduce, reinforce, and enhance information literacy skills in research modules for the Master of Science (Speech & Language Pathology) programme at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSoM).

Interdepartmental Collaboration to Foster Interdisciplinary Learning

In the pursuit of educating students about information literacy, librarians and faculty are natural partners. With their respective complementary domains of expertise, there are abundant opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration between both groups (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Interdisciplinary partnership illustrated by Venn diagrams.
Figure 1. Interdisciplinary partnership illustrated by Venn diagrams.

Yevelson-Shorsher and Bronstein (2018) have noted the effectiveness of faculty-librarian collaboration, stating that:

Training developed jointly by faculty and librarians, in which each part shares from their experience and knowledge…could provide students a more well-rounded education. Collaboration could also ensure having information literacy programs that work for everyone, which would be a more positive and fruitful academic experience for all stakeholders (p. 548).

It has also been reported by Saines et al. (2019) that librarian involvement in research assignment-based courses lead students to have “stronger engagement and interest in the assignment and [be] less intimidated with the research process and using library resources” (p. 17).

The research modules for the Master of Science (Speech & Language Pathology) Programme—SLP5112/5116 “Research Project”—prepare students to conduct and write up a research project, which can be a primary data research or a systematic review. For systematic reviews, under the supervision of faculty members from the Master of Science (Speech & Language Pathology) programme, the students identify a research topic, conduct comprehensive electronic database searches, critically review identified publications and findings, make an oral presentation and finally, write and submit a report.

As part of these two modules, the Systematic Review Team at NUS Libraries (“Librarians”) and faculty members from the programme (“SLP Faculty”) integrated information literacy instruction into the curriculum. The shared goal was the improvement of students’ mastery of conducting a comprehensive electronic database search to critically review identified publications in the context of a research project.

Co-Creation of Scaffolded Information Literacy Segment in the Curricula

Planning began in June 2021, during the vacation period of AY2021/22, in preparation of the information literacy components to be conducted from October 2021 to January 2022.

The Librarians and SLP Faculty corresponded regularly (June-August 2021) via emails, Zoom online meetings, and calls to discuss the curriculum and pedagogy of the information literacy components. These included:

  1. Learning Outcomes
    1. To be familiar with the key databases—PubMed, CINAHL, LLBA, ERIC, PsycInfo, Scopus1—in order to develop a comprehensive search. These databases were recommended by the librarians for their relevant content, in consultation with the faculty
    2. Execute the search strategy in order to retrieve a comprehensive body of relevant literature across the databases.
    3. Manage the references using EndNote.
  2. Scaffolding
Figure 2: Timeline to Illustrate Scaffolding of Learning Components
Figure 2: Timeline to Illustrate Scaffolding of Learning Components

Figure 2 shows the timeline which illustrates the way in which the research modules’ learning components are scaffolded. Each component is described below:

  1. Lecture: This was scheduled in October 2021, as students started thinking about potential research topics. By frontloading instruction on information literacy in the first module, students had the time to process and try out the search skills, which might be new to them. The idea was to equip them with a threshold level of search skills necessary to kick off their research projects and plan their search strategies.
  2. Post-lecture Quiz: At the end of the lecture, students participated in a quiz to test their recall and application of concepts learned in the lecture.
  3. Asynchronous Learning: Between October and November 2021, students began developing their own search strategies on an assigned search template. They were also tasked to watch a series of optional videos and use the NUS Libraries Systematic Reviews Guide in preparation for the consultation (NUS Libraries, 2022).
  4. Consultations: Student consultations to discuss individual search strategies with the librarians and faculty were scheduled two months after the lecture. These mid-module consultations were timely as students had developed a research question and worked through the search strategy. At this point, they were ready to receive feedback on their work and better process the complex search concepts to refine their search strings.

Benefits from Faculty, Librarian and Student Perspectives

The benefits were threefold:

  1. Faculty: It was a learning opportunity, whereby they could better understand the different techniques and approaches used in developing search strategies for the various research questions undertaken by students. They could also rediscover the various databases in greater depth.
  2. Librarians: It was an opportunity to guide students on how to conduct a systematic search for evidence to support their systematic review projects, and for the librarians themselves to further hone their instructional skills in the context of the SLP discipline.
  3. Students: They could gather and synthesise SLP domain knowledge as well as exercise newly acquired database knowledge and retrieval skills. The students learned to develop comprehensive search strategies across relevant databases. They also learned how to organise their search results in Endnote, before exporting to an Excel template specially prepared by the librarians, making the screening process more efficient.

Future Work

Subsequent iterations of the faculty-librarian collaborations could attempt to incorporate more ‘deep dive’ activities in line with NUS’s push towards blended learning, for example through the integration of in-class hands-on exercises to apply searching techniques learned. We could also consider introducing students to systematic review tools such as Rayyan to speed up the process of screening and selecting studies.


Mary LEE Lay Choo

Mary LEE Lay Choo is a Psychologist. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from NUS. She teaches research modules in Master of Science (Speech and Language Pathology) programme at NUS. Her research interest is bilingualism in children.

Mary can be reached at

Dr Susan J. Rickard LIOW

Dr Susan J. RICKARD LIOW  was an Associate Professor of the Department of Otolaryngology, Director of the Master of Science  (Speech & Language Pathology) programme  from 2007–2019, at the National University of Singapore (NUS). She obtained her B.Sc (Hons) Psychology (1980) and Ph.D. Cognitive Neuropsychology from the University of London (1986) and Diploma in Clinical Psychology from British Psychological Society (1986). Dr Liow’s research interests are normal and abnormal reading and spelling skill development, language disorders in bilingual kindergarten children, application of cognitive neuropsychology to dysphasia and dementia, development of assessment tools in Asian languages.

Susan can be reached at

SZE Wei Ping

SZE Wei Ping is a licensed speech therapist and Lecturer in the Master of Science (Speech and Language Pathology) programme at NUS. He is currently completing his PhD at University College London. His primary research interests are language processing of bilinguals and individuals with aphasia or other language/cognitive impairments. He is also interested in ways to conduct small-n statistical analyses.

Wei Ping can be reached at

Annelissa CHIN is a Senior Librarian at NUS Libraries. Annelissa enjoys working with students and researchers on systematic review consultations. She also runs workshops to impart the methodology of systematic literature search.

Annelissa can be reached at

LIM Siu Chen is a research librarian at NUS Libraries. Her interests relate to copyright and digital information literacy. She has experience providing information literacy instruction as part of the Law Resource and Humanities & Social Sciences Teams. She has an LLB (Hons) from the National University of Singapore and an MSc (Library Science) from Nanyang Technological University.

Siu Chen can be reached at

Magdeline NG is a Principal Librarian at NUS Libraries. She is part of the teaching team for the modules ALL1010 “Strategic Learning: The Science and Practice of Learning” and ALS1020 “Learning to Choose Better”. She is passionate about her role as a librarian involved in academic collaborations, be it in a research or education capacity. Some of her interests relate to pedagogical research, innovative teaching methods, educational interventions, and research impact assessment. She received her BSc (Hons) and MSc in Chemistry from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and her Ph.D in Chemistry from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Magdeline can be reached at


  1. Refer to these links for more information about the databases:


The authors would like to thank Dr Elizabeth Teh, Tay Yue Er Joel, Tng Siok Keng and Yu Wanling for their strong partnership in this programme.

Special thanks to the NUS Libraries Systematic Review team: Loh Mee Lan, Stephanie Ng Yen Ping, Toh Kim Kee, and Wong Suei Nee for their contributions and dedication in co-conducting and providing consultation.


NUS Libraries (2022, May 31). Systematic Reviews.

Saines, S., Harrington, S., Boeninger, C., Campbell, P., Canter, J., & McGeary, B. (2019). Reimagining the research assignment: Faculty-librarian collaborations that increase student learning. College & Research Libraries News, 80(1), 14-41.

Yevelson-Shorsher, A., & Bronstein, J. (2018). Three perspectives on information literacy in academia: Talking to librarians, faculty, and students. College & Research Libraries, 79(4), 535-553.

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