1. Wondering where to start?
2. Searching in Google?
3. Reference correctly to get those easy marks
Take note of key details you would need to find that resource again, & use Re:Cite.
This section can help you answer the following key questions as you begin you research:
Not every essay or report is the same (essays are not reports for starters!). Are you expected to describe, compare, evaluate, or discuss? Should you focus on the text in subject or find external sources? What is the word limit, due-date and format restrictions?
Carefully examine the marking rubric or guide. This will give you an idea of the weight your markers give for each aspect of the task and, therefore, an idea of how much time you should dedicate to each one. For example, you might see something like "30% for Evidence to support claims (that is relevant, diverse and recent)". This will help direct you to the type of sources you should be looking for. Give it serious effort but because it is worth only 30% of your mark make sure you don't spend all your time on this aspect of the task (at most it will impact a third of your grade).
Your subject guide will provide you with the referencing style you need to use as well as details of basic resources to aid your research. Your prescribed weekly readings or recommended further readings are great resources to start with for your own research topic.
These are commonly used words that signal the expectations of the marker. Briefly:
A marking rubric outlines the criteria which you will be assessed by and is usually presented as a table. It is important to think about these criteria carefully before beginning your research.
If it is not already included in the assessment instructions, the marking rubric is where you can find instructions on the types and range of resources required.
While you may be asked to find your own resources your class reading list can still be a useful starting point in your research because it offers:
Resources listed in your class reading list may be available in a digital format via Readings Online in the subject LMS, or in hard copy for limited loan periods in the High Use area of your library.
You will find advice on how to reference your sources in your subject or unit guide. Your school or lecturer may have preferred citation style, so make sure you follow this style when referencing sources in your assessments.
Click and expand the headings below for a quick introduction to referencing:
There are many ways to find information for your research once you have an idea of what to look for. Search strategies depend on
The process of finding sources can often expose you to information (such as language and concepts) that may help you better clarify what you are looking for. This can then allow you to refine and repeat your search with more targeted keywords or may mean that you come up completely different search words all together. While it may seem like starting over, this iterative, trial-and-error process is an important (and normal!) part of academic research.
This section will cover:
Tips on how to improve your search experience
Finding journal articles
Finding dictionaries and encyclopedias, also known as reference material
Books, journal articles and reference material are common resources used in research, and may be found in hardcopy or available digitally online.
Thoroughly understanding your assessment task will help you search for resources more effectively.
Ready to plot your ideas in a search plan? Below are a couple of template examples that you can download to get you started:
When you've carefully analysed your assessment topic and chosen some keywords you can then use them to search the Library catalogue to find books and ebooks. For hardcopy books, remember to take note of the following (as seen in the screenshot of a catalogue record below):
Check out the full guide below for a step-by-step guide on how to track down books:
The Library also has more than 32,000 ebooks which you can access at home, at a cafe and pretty much anywhere you have an internet connection. Visit our full guide to finding eBooks for more information:
Alongside books, journal articles are an excellent source of concise, up-to-date, and in-depth information for almost any academic topic.
Many journals are 'refereed' or 'peer reviewed'. This means that articles are of high academic quality- being accepted for publication only after being reviewed by editors and/or other scholars. Journals are usually published periodically in volumes and issues (monthly, quarterly or annually) and are bound into larger compilations. Many are published online and can be effectively found through the Library's databases, Discovery, and Google Scholar (more on these resources later). It is a common mistake to treat online journal articles as a webpage. Online journal articles are usually just the electronic reproduction of an article that is published in a print journal, not a webpage.
Journals usually have a theme or specialty and articles in them are on topics surrounding that theme. For instance, the Journal of Australian Political Science will generally contain articles that relate to Australian politics in some way.
Knowing how to find relevant journal articles is a critical research skill and one that you will be relying on more and more as your progress through your degree.
Read through our full guide to finding journal articles below:
Dictionaries and encyclopedias are also known as reference material. They offer:
As with your subject reading lists, these will direct you to other related and reliable resources.
To find high quality reference materials for your specific discipline, a great starting place is your faculty's Subject Research Guides. Check them out below:
Click on the button below to browse a list of guides on finding specialised resources like newspapers, theses, images and more:
This section will give you tips to help evaluate the quality of the resources you have found:
Identifying scholarly sources
PROMPT: 5 checks for quality
Information that is scholarly is:
Here are examples of types of scholarly information you might encounter in your research:
A word on mainstream media sources: general newspaper articles and websites might not fulfill these criteria. Although they may be valuable for up-to-date information you will need scholarly information sources to develop and support your research and writing.
Keep in mind: Not all sources are created equal
Choosing the right resources to use can make a significant difference to the quality of your assignment.
While you are searching for resources, put them to the test by using the PROMPT (Presentation, Relevance, Objectivity, Method, Provenance, Timeliness) set of criteria below to ensure you are using quality resources that will help answer your assignment question.
All your hard work researching only matters if you can use it well. Show your reader you have put in the work, distinguish your ideas from the research and integrate what you've found into the task.
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 3 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.
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?)
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:
Using re:cite, the Library's guide to referencing, citation and acknowledgment makes it easy to attribute the ideas that you use in your work. Remember to check whether your faculty has a preferred citation style in your subject guide.
How can we help?
Academic Skills can help you with academic writing, critical reading and assessment planning. Contact Academic Skills for support in the following areas:
How can we help?
The Library can help you with finding, evaluating and properly referencing resources. Contact the Library for more support in the following areas: