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Research Essentials

Level up your researching, reading and writing skills with these essential tips and navigate your first university assignments. Find relevant support and resources from the Library and Academic Skills.

Where to start

Create a search strategy

After analysing the task, you should have a clear idea of concepts and limits of your topic. These will be your keywords for searching. Try to generate some alternative terms for these keywords top broaden your results. You may also want to note down things you want to exclude.

Start with a general overview

If you're new to a topic, starting with an encyclopedia or overview guide (sometimes called 'reference material') will help you develop a general understanding before you deep dive into niche aspects of the topic. They are written to give a concise introduction using scholarly references, so will lead you straight to the most important or informative publications in the field. They are usually updated regularly.

Look for a 'Research Starter' result at the top of a Discovery search - these entries are from Encyclopedias. You can also check your subject library guides for recommendations.

Database searching

Library databases are a little different to general search engines. They give you very precise results based on exactly what you asked for.

Build a better search strategy

This video shows you how to combine terms in databases.


Where should I search?

This video will give you some tips on the best general search options when you're getting started at the University of Melbourne

Not getting the results you need?

Too many results?

  • use filters to limit the results by date, or source type
  • use boolean searching or advanced search options to make your search more precise

Can't find anything?

  • try a general source like an encyclopedia for recommended sources
  • broaden your search by adding alternative keywords

Results aren't relevant?

  • choose a subject specific database that is recommended for your area of study
  • consider if you need to exclude any terms from your results

Finding a particular item

If you know exactly what you need, but don't know where to find it, try:


  • Search by title in library catalogue. (Choose title from the drop down menu of search options).
  • The catalogue record will tell you how to access the ebook, or where to find the print book within our collection.
  • Google results will include a 'Borrow' or 'Get book' link to the University Library catalogue record if we have a copy of the print or ebook.

Journal articles

  • If you know the title of a journal article, you can search for it that title by entering it into the Discovery search box. Put the title in quotation marks " " to make your search specific.
  • If you're already on a journal article page, but it's asking you to pay or sign in, our Search Tools save you time by automatically giving you access with your University credentials.

Library staff can help

Contact us if you can't find what you're looking for or can't connect to a source. We can help you troubleshoot problems, find alternative ways to access materials, or source the work from another collection.

We love a challenge and we're happy to help.

Consult a specialist library guide

Our general search tools will uncover a lot, but did you know we also have hundreds of specialist resources for your specific area of study?

Library Guides are written and maintained by specialist librarians who are knowledgeable about your subjects, and will give you specific recommendations about where to search. Choose 'Guides by Subject Area' to find a guide for your area of study.


Find a specialist Library Guide

Use these guides for help with specialist sources

The guides focus on different types of information sources.


Get more out of library databases with these five tips to level up your search

Save time with Library search tools

The Library has some tools that will provide direct access to online resources, whether you're on or off campus, and speed up your research by making resources easier to access.

Find out more about each tool in the gallery below. You don't need to limit yourself to one, you can use them all in conjunction with each other.

Install library search tools

Lean Library logo shows the letters LL in a circleLean Library

Lean Library is a browser extension that identify sites, articles, journals and books we have University access to, so you can get seamless access to paid resources when you're browsing.

The Lean Library browser extension works with your UniMelb authentication, no separate user account is needed.

Get Lean Library

LibKey Nomad

LibKey Nomad is a browser extension the puts direct PDF download links into research platforms and other sites, for example, in Wikipedia reference lists.

The LibKey Nomad browser extension works with your UniMelb authentication, no separate user account is needed

Get LibKey Nomad


BrowZine is an app to follow your favorite journals and get notifications on new issues and published articles. BrowZine can be installed from the Apple, Google Play and Amazon App Stores.

It allows you to browse titles by subject to easily find journals of interest and create a personal bookshelf of your favourite journals.

Get Browzine


EndNote click

EndNote Click, formally known as Kopernio, saves you time by putting PDF Download links onto many search result pages and publisher websites. It helps you save papers to your reference management software or to Dropbox.

Get EndNote Click


Google Scholar library link

You can set your Google Scholar preferences so that links to any Library subscription material shows a 'Find It @ Unimelb' link next to search results, taking you through to a full text version via the Library. This can be a convenient alternative if you don't want install browser add ons like Lean Library or LibKey Nomad.

  1. Go to Google Scholar settings
  2. Click the Library links option in the left menu
  3. Enter: 'University of Melbourne Library' in the search box and click the search button.
  4. Tick the checkbox next to the option: 'University of Melbourne Library - Find It @ Unimelb'.
  5. Click the 'Save' button.

Keep track of what you have found

It's essential to keep track of what you have found when you are searching so that you:

  • Know what you have already found
  • Manage your reading and note-taking
  • Accurately reference the sources you use in your assessment

There are lots of ways to keep records of your searches. Most databases allow you to save searches, and to email or print search results. See the referencing section of this guide for more resources.