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Beginning Research: Document

Help for beginning research on your essay, paper or thesis.

Quick Tips



Why you should document your search strategies

Documenting search strategies makes your searching easier.

  • It allows you to be consistent when you are searching a range of different sources.
  • It enables you to reflect and improve on your search strategies.
  • It makes it easy to organise your research time - if you keep notes you can do smaller chunks of research when you have spare time.
  • The plan section in this guide has some example search plans and tips for making searching more effective.

Keeping track of information sources for your assignments

How do I manage all of this information?

 Keep a record of all of the books, articles, and websites that you use.  This will save you lots of time when you need to write a reference list for an assignment.

The Library provide free access to reference management software. However there are lots of other ways that you can get organised.


  • Use the export records feature in the library catalogue. If you export the records for useful books to your email account, when it comes time to write up the reference list for an assessment task, you will have all of the details.
  • Make sure that you record the source details when you make photocopies of book chapters.
  • When you are searching within databases "mark" relevant records and export the citations to email.
  • Develop a filing system and be systematic with your storage of journal articles eg. keep journal articles for a particular subject or assessment task in a common folder.
  •  When you download online journal articles, apply a consistent files name protocol, such authors name and year. eg. Jones_2009.pdf
  • Make back-up copies of your work.
  • Consider using an online tool or app to organise links - this means you can access your favourites anywhere.

Referencing Software

Referencing programs available that will assist you with citing and referencing. When selecting software you should consider:

  • Your course requirements : coursework or a higher degree by research
  • The style requirements for the discipline 
  • Personal preference

The University of Melbourne provides the Refworks and Endnote programs for staff and students.

Why citing is important

Citations allow readers to follow up on sources you have referred to enabling the sharing of ideas. If you draw upon other people's work in your writing and research and do not acknowledge those sources, you can be accused of plagiarism

See the University of Melbourne Academic Honesty and plagiarism site for


How do I cite?

You will need to determine which citation style is required for your assessment tasks. Often it is specified in your subject handbooks or you could check with your Tutors, Lecturers or Supervisor.

Then check the citation guidelines for the specific style you need to follow.

Use the Academics Skills referencing guides to build your understanding of referencing techniques and develop your skills.


Watch the following video for an quick explanation of citation styles and how they differ.

Need help with referencing?

Re:cite is an online referencing tool produced by the University of Melbourne Library. This guide provides examples for creating in-text citations and refereences covering a number of different referencing styles.