Writing your assignment

  Plan your search

Once you have a good understanding of your topic, you need to plan your search. Taking the time to plan your search will help you search more effectively and find better results. Searching for information is an organic process that takes you down different paths, and sometimes back again, depending on your needs. Your search strategy might change as you find more information and incorporate new keywords, but it’s always useful to start with a solid plan. The process of plan, search, review, and read is one you will often repeat - don’t expect to find all the information you need in one search session. 

  Watch the video

  Video length: 2 minutes, 26 seconds

  Key points from the video

  • Searching for your whole assignment is not very effective
  • Mapping out your search is a good place to start
  • Identify the key concepts in your question or topic
  • You don't need to search for task words
  • Use double quotation marks (" ") to search for two or more words together as a phrase
  • Think about what other words (synonyms and alternative terms) might be used to describe the key concepts
  • You can use acronyms, but you should search for the full terms as well
  • To find fewer results, add different concepts using AND (e.g. rural AND Australia)
  • To find more results, add synonyms or alternative terms, to your search using OR (e.g. "renewable energy" OR solar OR wind)
  • You can change your search as you find more information
  • For more information, read the How to plan your search document

  Get your plan together

There are three steps involved in planning your search: identifying keywords, considering alternative keywords, and connecting your keywords. You can learn more about each step of the process by working through the slides below. The slides also include some quick tips to make your search even more effective.

  Understand types of information

Information comes in many different forms and depending on your assessment requirements, some types of information are more appropriate than others. You may even be asked to use specific types of information, such as peer-reviewed articles. When planning your search, it is important to consider what type of information you will need. Explore the diagram below to discover different types of information.  To find out more about how information is born and how it changes over time, watch this short LinkedIn Learning video.

  Watch the video

  Video length: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

  Key points

  • At university you will be required to use scholarly resources
  • You may also see these resources referred to as ‘academic’, ‘peer-reviewed’, ‘refereed’, or ‘reputable’ resources
  • This can include journal articles, books, book chapters, conference papers, and theses
  • Wikipedia, newspapers, magazines, blogs or personal websites can be useful, but are not considered scholarly
  • Scholarly sources are written by researchers within a subject area, contain references, and are often peer-reviewed (also called ‘refereed’)
  • Peer-reviewed articles are assessed by experts in the field before they are published
  • Many search tools will allow you to limit your results to peer-reviewed articles
  • Scholarly books are written by experts, published by reputable publishers, and contain reference

To find out more about peer-review:

  Analyse the features of a scholarly article

It is important to be able to identify scholarly articles. From the information provided in the video above, identify the essential features of the scholarly article below by clicking on different elements. Scroll down to read more about each feature and check your progress. 

  Plan your own search

Creating your search strategy can be challenging. You might find some steps harder or easier than others, but you can get better at the process by practising. Remember, your search plan can change as you find more information and incorporate new keywords, but it’s always useful to start with a solid plan.

Type your answers to the questions below in the boxes provided. You will be able to export your text on the last slide.