The research process
What am I writing about?
Before you begin your research it is a good idea to take the time to be very clear about your topic. What are the key concepts or ideas?
From this it is worth spending a few minutes brainstorming some keywords – the words that you will use to look for information. Remember: having more than one keyword to describe the same concept can be a good idea as it will allow you to get different results.
What sort of information do I need?
It is worth remembering that you can get different kinds of information from different places.
Ask yourself what sort of information do I need, and where might I find it? This list of suggestions could get you started:
You will find that sometimes these resources will be online, sometimes off line, and sometimes there will be a ‘hard copy’ and an ‘e-version’ of the same resource. It doesn’t matter which you use, but it is worth emembering that not everything is online, and not everything online is available for free.
What is in the library?
The library has lots of books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs and other information resources to support your course. The library also subscribes to many eResources which you have free access to while you are a student. To search for materials in the library use the links on the library website (you can use it from home if you like).
Try searching the library catalogue using your keywords.
Library staff have produced a number of subject guides that can help direct you more quickly to resources relevant to your study area. Select the appropriate link from the Subject guides box on the library website.
Databases and other online resources
The library has access to a number of online databases that allow you to search for magazine and newspaper articles, videos, Australian Standards and other valuable resources.
Select the appropriate link from the Online resources guides box on the library website.
If you are off-campus you will need to enter your network login and password.
Don’t let yourself get to the stage where you are tearing your hair out and spending unproductive hours in front of the computer screen. If you are having trouble finding the information you need, please ask library staff for help. They may be able to tell you in seconds where to locate the information you need, or spend time guiding you in using the library resources to find what you need.
Contrary to popular belief, not everything can be found on the Internet. However, quite a lot of good information can be. As with all information gathering, it is important to evaluate the information you find before deciding to use it.
The end of the URL (Internet address) can tell you a lot about where the page comes from. ‘.gov’ and ‘.edu’ are from government and educational bodies respectively. These organisations often have better quality control than some ‘.com’ sites. Look for official industry bodies and respected community organisations ahead of “Joe Blogg’s page on…”
Some useful questions to ask yourself are:
Google Scholar is a part of Google that allows you to focus your search on more academic resources. It will allow you to search banks of free online magazine articles and books for information. To get Google Scholar click the ‘more’ button at the top of a normal Google search page and select ‘scholar’.
A word on Wikipedia
Wikipedia is written by all sorts of people around the world. Anyone can write and change whatever they want in Wikipedia (to a point), which means that personal bias and incorrect information can often be found. However, it can be a useful place to start research, to get an overview of a topic and some further references. It is not recommended that you directly use anything you find on Wikipedia in an assignment, but the ‘further reading’ part at the bottom of each page can give you ideas of other places to look for information. Feel free to use Wikipedia, but use it with caution!