Skip to Main Content

Research Essentials

Level up your researching, reading and writing skills with these essential tips

Use your research

All the hard work put into researching only matters if the material you find is used effectively. Show your reader you have put in the work, distinguish your ideas versus those from other authors and integrate what you've found into the task with the tips below.

  Writing academic essays

Writing (or presenting) at university comes with unique expectations and norms. This is good training as communication is always contextual - a message to your friends, an article on your blog, or a report to your boss should look and feel different. Once you've done your reading, how do you integrate your research with your writing? Here are 4 quick things to get you started:


1. Use academic style

Small but important details like language, tone and neutrality can radically affect the style of your writing. This video provides practical tips and examples, and a list of things to avoid.



2. Use academic structure

Structuring complex ideas so they can be easily understood is a skill in itself. This video will answer some simple questions (like how long should a paragraph be) to some complex iterative ones (how to improve cohesion in writing?)



3. Paraphrase ideas in your writing

Now that you've done all the research, how do you represent it in your writing? Too often research is dropped into writing making it disjointed, hard to read and, worst of all, difficult to evaluate. This video explains why and how you should paraphrase:


4. Acknowledge your sources

Your lecturer, faculty or school may require you to cite and reference your sources by following a specific citation styleCheck in your subject guide or LMS for details on a preferred citation style.

The video below will give you a quick introduction to the basics of referencing and citing and where you can go to get help:







Once you know which citation style you need to follow, use Re:Citethe University’s online hub for referencing style guides and resources to find out how to cite and reference your sources. It is important that you consistently follow the style guide instructions and cite, acknowledge and attribute the ideas from other sources, you use in your assessments. Re:Cite provides clear instructions and examples of how to cite and reference different sources. 

Click and expand the headings below for a quick introduction to citing and referencing:

  • Citing is the formal way of acknowledging information sources within the body of your essay, report or paper and points your reader to the specific part of the original source.
  • Referencing is a list of information sources that you have cited and is included at the end of your essay, report or paper as a reference list or bibliography (more on these terms below).

A reference or citation list only includes sources to which you refer, quote or actively use in your assignment or body of work. Bibliographies list all information sources you reviewed during your research. Check your style guide to confirm which is required.

  • It's how we can track the sharing of ideas: Accurately citing your sources allows others to follow and verify your research. In turn, you can use references in your reading to find other relevant resources for your research. This is known as 'citation mining'.

  • It's the right thing to do: When you use other people's ideas in your writing and research, it is ethical to acknowledge those sources and recognise their ownership and hard work. Not properly or fully acknowledging others' work can be plagiarism and may be subject to severe consequences. See the University of Melbourne Academic Honesty and plagiarism website for examples of what constitutes plagiarism, and tips on how to avoid plagiarising.

  • It's also the law: Uphold copyright law, avoid accidental plagiarism (yes, this can happen!) and avoid infringing the moral rights of other scholars.

  • Know your referencing style. There are many referencing styles. Check your assignment instructions or subject guide to determine which referencing style you will use.
  • Use Re:Cite (Unimelb Library's Referencing Guide. Re:Cite is the University of Melbourne's interactive library website that summarises rules for the main referencing styles used at the University. It also provides examples on how to create a reference list, create in-text citations and more.

Using reference management software is an easier way to manage your information sources. You can use these to:

  • Quickly download references from databases
  • Store and organise your references
  • Insert citations and generate bibliographies
  • Easily change the citation styles as required
  • Share your references with others for collaboration
Ready to try using reference management software? Visit our guide on reference management, or just jump straight in and try Zotero.