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Advanced Library Information Skills for USP Students. Conducted by Mrs. Hew Yik Suan Manager (Science Library). Today’s Topics. How to initiate a systematic approach on conducting research How to search the relevant reference databases available for your subject of study.

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advanced library information skills for usp students

Advanced Library Information Skillsfor USP Students

Conducted by

Mrs. Hew Yik Suan

Manager (Science Library)

today s topics
Today’s Topics
  • How to initiate a systematic approach on conducting research
  • How to search the relevant reference databases available for your subject of study

Starting a Research Project

Identify the

research topic

Initiate a

literature search

how to initiate a literature search
How to initiate a literature search?
  • Start with a simple / quick literature search in LINC
  • Follow with an extensive search in relevant reference databases in Digital Library

How to construct the search concept?

List synonyms

for each concept

Identify keywords

& main concepts

Think of the broader terms

for each concept to get

abetter perspective

on your research topic

Research Topic :

Altruism in Animals

  • Zoology behaviour of an animal that benefits another at its own expense
  • Selfless concern for the well being of others
  • The practice of thinking of the needs and desires of other people instead of your own
  • Sacrifice, if necessary of life itself, so that others, commonly offspring or other genetically close younger relatives, may survive or otherwise benefit.
Use Boolean operators to formulate

the search statement

  • AND is used to indicate that both terms must be present
  • OR is used to indicate that either terms may be present
  • NOT is used to indicate that one term must be present

For example:

(Graph! OR Combinatoric*) NOT (Function graph!)

(altrui! OR unselfish behavior) AND (animal*)

NOT (ant*)

search relevance
Search Relevance

How do you know that the search is relevant?

You may consider the following questions :

  • Does the item give an overview of your topic?
  • Does the item cover one or some aspects of your topic?
  • Does the item cover the situation in the country and place that you are covering?
evaluating sources
Evaluating Sources

How good are the sources?

In evaluating your sources, you may wish to consider the following general criteria:

  • Authority(Is it done by the experts in that field?)
  • Accuracy(Are the information, data or methods reliable?)
  • Objectivity (How objective is it? Is it peer reviewed?)
  • Timeliness(Is the information up-to-date?)

How do you cite references ?


Chen, J.F. 1995. Nutritional immunology. Provo, Utah: Bright Ideas Press.

Chapter in Book

Williams, M.E. 1992. Molecular biology of cytoplasmic male sterility. In Plant Breeding Reviews, ed. Janick, J., pp. 23-51. New York: Wiley.

Journal Article

Pierrard, V. 2003. Evaporation of hydrogen and helium atoms from the atmospheres of Earch and Mars. Planetary and Space Science51: 319-327.

Conference paper

Turner, S. and Somerville, C. 1995. Analysis of vascular tissue differentiation.

6th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research. 93-95.


Ng Khee Yew. 1997. Regulation of photosynthesis and phloem transport in Oncidium Goldiana. (B.Sc. Hons.) School of Biological Sciences, The National University of Singapore. Pp. 126

Searching one database may not be sufficient, do the search in a few other relevant databases to get wider coverage and perspective.
abstracts and indexes
Abstracts and Indexes

Biological Sciences

Reference Databases in Digital Library :

BIOSIS Previews

Science Citation Index

SciFinder Scholar


Encyclopedia of Life Sciences

Standalone CD-ROMs in Science Library:

Life Science CD

Focus on Genetics

Zoological Abstracts on Compact Disc

Abstracts and Indexes


Reference Databases in Digital Library :


Science Citation Index

NUSNET (via CD-ROM on Windows)

Encyclopedia of Mathematics

Standalone CD-ROMs in Science Library:

Current Index to Statistics CIS Extended Database

Calculus Live

MathCad 2001

abstracts and indexes1
Abstracts and Indexes
  • Physics
  • Reference Databases in Digital Library:
      • INSPEC
      • Science Citation Index
      • SPIN (Searchable Physics Information Notices)
  • Standalone CD-ROMs in Science Library
      • Powder Diffraction File
      • Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
abstracts and indexes2
Abstracts and Indexes

Computer Science

Reference Databases in Digital Library :

  • IEEE Xplore
  • ISI Essential Science Indicators
  • ISI Proceedings
  • ACM Online Guide to Computing Literature
  • MathSciNet

Standalone CD-ROMs in Science Library:

  • ISTP on CD-ROM
  • Computer Abstracts
  • Hilites Database
abstracts and indexes3
Abstracts and Indexes


  • Reference Databases in Digital Library :
      • SciFinder Scholar
      • Science Citation Index
      • Dictionary of Substances and their Effects
      • MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets)
      • Food Science and Technology
  • Standalone CD-ROMs in Science Library:
      • Powder Diffraction File
      • Official Methods of Analysis of AOAC International
      • Properties of Organic Compounds
      • ACD/ Labs Software: IUPAC Name Pro 4.5 & Aldrich FT-NMR Library Pro 4.5
reference databases search
Reference Databases Search
  • ScienceDirect consists of:
    • BIOSIS Previews
    • INSPEC
    • Compendex
  • MathSciNet
access the digital library
Access the Digital Library

Access the Digital Library off-Campus

biosis previews
BIOSIS Previews
  • BIOSIS Previews is the reference database in the Life Sciences
  • Links to full text journals, access depend on whether NUS Libraries subscribes to them
  • Requires login ID and Password for using full search features


MathSciNet is a searchable database providing access to “Mathematical Reviews” and “Current Mathematical Publications” both produced by the American Mathematical Society.


It provides:

Fulltext coverage of “Mathematical Reviews” from to the present (updated monthly)

Bibliographic data for recent and forthcoming publications in “Current Mathematical Publications” (updated daily)

useful writing guides
Useful Writing Guides

Guide to the successful thesis and dissertation/ J. E. Mauch & J. W. Birch. – Marcel Dekker,1998. (LB2369 Mau) (SC Ref 9)

Mathematics into type. Updated ed. – American Mathematical Society, 1999. (T11 Swa) (SC Ref 9)

The scientist’s handbook for writing papers and dissertations/ A. M. Wilkinson. – Prentice Hall, 1991. (T11 Wil) (SC Ref 9)

useful writing guides1
Useful Writing Guides

A student handbook for writing in biology/ K. Knisely. – Freeman, 2002. (QH304 Kni 2002) (SC Ref 5)

The write right guide /C. Low & D. Pan. - 5th ed. – Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning, NUS. (PE1408 Low 2003) (SC Ref 9)

Writing research papers : a complete guide/ J. D. Lester. - 9th ed. – Longman,1999. (LB2369 Les) (SC Ref 9)

Writing science through critical thinking / M. F. Moriarty. Jones & Bartlett Pub., 1997. (T11 Mor) (SC Main Shelves)

what do you do when the materials you want is not found in the nus libraries
What do you do when the materials you want is not found in the NUS Libraries?

You may request the library to obtain the item for you through electronic forms available at Digital Library

Request for Document Delivery

Request to Purchase New Books for the Library

Request to Subscribe to New Journals for the Library

Check whether other major local libraries (NTU, Singapore Polytechnic, Botanic Gardens) hold a particular book or journal

Science Library

Exercises for the Advanced Library Information Skills for USP Students


1. Construct a search statement for the following research topic. (Select one of them)

a). A study of Zebra-fish trade in Singapore

b). Quantum theory of tunneling

c). A study of Set Theory and Logic

2. List the keywords, synonyms, and broader terms for the topic

KeywordsSynonymsBroader Terms

3. What reference databases are you going to use for the above topic?

4. Too many references? Too less references? What can you do to broaden or narrow down the search?

research topic quantum theory of tunneling
Research Topic: Quantum theory of tunneling

KeywordSynonyms Broader Terms

Quantum Quantum mechanic Physics


Tunneling Potential barrier Junction

a study of set theory and logic
A study of Set theory and Logic

KeywordSynonymsBroader Term

Set theory Symbolic Mathematics

Logic Reasoning Methodology

thought & Intellect

thinking Philosophy