Before you start researching, take some time to understand the assessment task. Make sure you know what the expectations are around the work you are producing. This will save you time, help you better target your research, and make sure you produce relevant work.
Ask yourself the following key questions as you begin your research:
Are you expected to describe, compare, evaluate, or discuss? Should you focus on the texts or information you've been given in class, or will you are you expected to find other sources? What are the word limit, due-date and format restrictions?
Most assessment tasks will have a marking rubric or guide which will tell you how much of the assignment's total grade is allocated for each aspect of the task. Use the rubric as a guide as to how much time to dedicate to each portion of the assignment.
For example, your assignment rubric might say '30% of marks for evidence to support claims' and '10% for accurate and consistent referencing'. Although accurate referencing is always important, for this assignment you should spend more time on finding evidence to support your claims than on referencing.
The subject guide will tell you which referencing style you need to use.
If you are researching your own topic, your weekly readings (both prescribed and recommended) are a great place to start your research.
Watch this short video (1:25) on how to analyse your assessment task:
These are commonly used words that signal the expectations of the marker.
Check your understanding with the quick activity below. Which words would you use to guide your search for assignment resources?
A marking rubric outlines the criteria which you will be assessed by, and is usually presented as a table. It shows you what your lecturer or tutor are looking for when they mark your work.
Looking at the marking rubric before you start researching can help you get a better idea of the types and range of resources or references you need to include.
You may be required to meet criteria based on:
Quantity: are you expected to use a minimum number of references?
Quality: are you expected to use scholarly resources or peer-reviewed journal articles?
Sources: are you expected to use:
Your recommended reading list or textbook can be a useful place to start your research, as all the sources referred to have been chosen because they are high quality. While you may be asked to find your own resources, your recommended reading list or textbook can still be a useful starting point in your research because they offer:
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 Collection of your library.
Check the library catalogue to find if you have access to sources referred to in your textbook.