9 online search tips to help you with your researching

About to start researching for an assignment? Of course, you want this process to be as efficient as possible, right? Well, we’re here to help!

Follow the handy tips below to ensure you’re searching online information effectively. Some of them will be massive timesavers!

1. Identify keywords

Keywords are key! Analyse your assignment question to develop a list of keywords to use in online search tools.

2. Brainstorm more keywords

Be sure to use synonyms of your keywords. Consult a thesaurus; there are plenty of free versions online. Experts probably discuss your topic using a variety of terms, and you’ll want to catch all of this research.

3. Beware of words with different spelling

Watch out for words with alternative spelling. Remember, there are differences between British English and American English spelling, such as colour and color. Some search tools will automatically find both spellings, but you may need to include both versions.

4. Limit your search

Most search tools let you limit your results in a range of ways. Use these tools to focus your results on the content you need. For example, you may not need peer-reviewed journal articles, or news articles from the past three months. Limit your search to what you need.

5. Keep keywords together

Sometimes you need to use keywords together. If the words aren’t in the correct order, the results won’t be relevant; for example, higher education. Most search tools will find your phrase in the correct order if you enclose the words in quotation marks; for example “higher education”. This works best for two or three words.

6. Find multiple words in one go

Some search tools will only provide results for the exact keywords you use. For example, if you search for teen, you will only find results that contain teen. However, you may also like results for teen, teens, teenager and teenaged. Try truncation to avoid typing in all of these words. You can use a symbol, usually the asterisk (*), to tell the search tool to find any endings of your keyword. For example, you can search for teen* and find results for all those other words in one go.

7. Use wildcards

A wildcard is a symbol you can use in the middle of a word to catch any alternate spelling options for that word. The wildcard symbol varies between search tools, but is frequently a question mark (?) or an asterisk (*). For example, if you are searching for the keyword behaviour, and know there is an alternative spelling option, you can use the wildcard symbol to find both spelling options at once. For example, behavio?r.

8. Combine keywords and synonyms

We’ve already stressed the importance of keywords and synonyms. But you’ll need to think about how you are going to use all these words when you search an online tool, such as the library catalogue or databases. That’s where Boolean operators come in. Boolean operators are the terms and, or and not. They are used to join your keywords together to form a search strategy. Check out this YouTube video from Penfield Library to get an idea of how to use Boolean operators in your search.

9. Dig into references

Don’t forget to check reference lists of the resources you find. They may list other helpful sources of information you can use.

– Extract from Study Smart – 

Need help with research and publishing?

Griffith University Library is here to help you fly into your research!

We’ve created a Research and Publishing webpage to assist you through this process. The Research and Publishing webpage covers everything from getting started on your research journey to getting published and attaining academic impact.

You’ll find links to:

  • Free workshops on topics like EndNote, developing your academic argument, editing your writing, managing your research data, publishing during your PhD and many more.
  • Postgraduate Research Information Skills Modules designed to guide you through every stage of your research journey.
  • Strategic publishing guidelines to assist you through publishing.
  • Academic impact resources.
  • Best practice data guidelines.
  • Plus much more.

Remember, Griffith Library is here to help you succeed in your research. Need more help? If you’re a Higher Degree Research candidate or academic you can book in for a free consultation with a specialist Discipline Librarian to assist you with your research specific information needs.

Get a head start on study by attending our Earlybird workshops

Quick quiz:

  • Are you starting uni this trimester?
  • Did you find last trimester’s study a challenge?
  • Do you want to further develop your learning skills?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, our Earlybird workshops are perfect for you!

Prior to Trimester 3, 2018, we are offering the following Earlybird workshops free to Griffith students. Find out more at our Library Orientation webpage.

Writing university assignments (2hrs) 

Covers the basics of getting started, structuring and writing assignments.

Monday 22 October 2018
Wednesday 24 October 2018
Gold Coast
9.30 am
9.30 am
Clinical Sciences 2 (G16_1.07)
Environment 2 (N13_0.05)

Getting started on an ePortfolio on PebblePad (45 mins)

Learn about Griffith’s personal learning environment – PebblePad.  Bring along a device and your login details.

Monday 22 October 2018
Wednesday 24 October 2018
Gold Coast
11.45 am
11.45 am
Clinical Sciences 2 (G16_1.07)
Environment 2 (N13_0.05)

Researching and referencing for your assignment (2hrs)

Gain awareness of the wide range of information resources available at Griffith and learn to identify the principles of referencing and the process of applying them within academic work.

Monday 22 October 2018
Wednesday 24 October 2018
Gold Coast
1.30 pm
1.30 pm
Clinical Sciences 2 (G16_1.07)
Environment 2 (N13_0.05)

Library orientation

The library is so much more than books on the shelves.

You can take a 15 minute tour of your library during orientation week. Getting to know your library will make studying at university so much easier.

Improve your postgrad research skills

Are you a Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidate? Wondering how to get the skills to achieve at University? The Postgraduate Research Information Skills Modules (PRISM) are for you.

PRISM has been created so you can develop research skills during your candidature that will continue to benefit you throughout your career.

The modules will assist you to develop your research topic, search the literature to develop a literature review, organise information and much more.

They can be completed in any order and are organised by Early candidature (first year), Post confirmation (second year) and Late candidature (third year and beyond) for your convenience.

Each section will help you build your knowledge base and direct you to additional resources. The research skills you develop through PRISM will help you now and in your future career in research and beyond.

You can access the Postgraduate Research Information Skills Modules through PebblePad from our Research and Publishing webpage.

We hope you find the modules engaging and helpful. Remember, you can contact a library specialist if you need more support – just scroll down to the Consultation with a Specialist slab on the Research and Publishing webpage and select your discipline.

Lightning Talks: Sustainability solutions explored

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At the beginning of this month we held Lightning Talks on Adapt or Die: the truth about Climate Change and Waste Wars as part of Sustainability Week.

So what are Lightning Talks?

Lightning Talks are similar to TED Talks, in that speakers (our academics) are given a limited time (10 minutes) to give voice to a topical issue. The difference? Instead of watching online, you’re invited to join in the conversation and share your opinions too.

If you attended, we’re sure you loved the events! If not, you totally missed out! Never fear though, we’ll catch you up on what went down.

Adapt or Die: the truth about climate change

  • Prof Cordia Chu AM spoke about the need to future-proof ourselves against Climate Change by acting now to find solutions. Society must adapt and work in partnership, and complex scientific research needs to be adapted in order to find useful and useable solutions that are, most importantly, used. 
  • Dr Wade Hadwen spoke about water scarcity, highlighting the need to address this issue now – as the problem is only going to get worse.
  • Prof Catherine Pickering talked about how we can use native plants to offset the impact of climate change. You can download the groNATIVE app to help select the best native plants for your needs, and search plants by biodiversity, your garden style of plant characteristics.
  • Dr Leah Barclay introduced us to EcoAcoustics – the sounds of waterways, which enable us to gauge environmental changes over time by sound. She has been using underwater microphones to map the sounds of fish and aquatic insects. From this, people can put microphones under water and identify the sounds, therefore animals, in the water.

Waste Wars

  • Assoc Prof Frederic Leusch opened the discussion with statistics of how single-use plastics are contributing to waste, and some graphic images of how they harm and kill animals in the ocean. Plastic bags, straws and countless other rubbish items are among what we dump into the ocean and local waterways. He provided us with practical actions to take to help with our problem with plastic waste – say no to straws, avoid buying bottled water, bring your own coffee cup, plus much more!
  • Assoc Prof Matthew Burke spoke about how transport infrastructure affects sustainability. Currently in Brisbane, we’re investing our money on projects to widen roads to add capacity for more cars. Instead, we should be focusing on developing our public transport infrastructure. We also need to push programs to encourage walking, cycling and active transport.
  • Dr Eleni Kalantidou spoke about our love of material things – buying stuff, shopping. Western society spends and purchases too readily. We need to change the way we perceive things by being more responsible about our purchase decisions – we have a responsibility every time we buy something we know we’re going to discard quickly.
  • Dr Kathy Knox and her team worked with the community of Redlands to tackle the food waste issue. After surveying the community about the kind of food they had in their household, they invited professional chefs to create recipes which would incorporate food items that are often left over and discarded, showing the Redlands community practical ways to reduce food waste. They held live cooking demonstrations of these recipes in the Stockland shopping centre and distributed recipe cards to the community.
  • Clare Poppi spoke about how modern jewellery is often inexpensive costume items serving little purpose, and therefore can be a waste. Clare creates one of a kind pieces which incorporate nature into the design, are sustainable and easily degradable. She brought along samples of her work for us.

Want to hear more? You can watch both lightning talks online on our Facebook page:

Subscribe to our newsletter for some research Insight

Are you a budding researcher? Want to know about latest news on innovation, technology, events, library resources, online tools, research and workshops?

Well, then you definitely want to check out our Insight newsletter.

Insight is a monthly newsletter aimed at our Griffith researchers and academics, full of interesting and enlightening information.

Learn more about our research staff by reading the monthly academic profile. Or stay up to date with the latest research workshops and training.

Maybe you want to further develop your research skills, and would like to check our posts such as Hone your academic writing with a storyboard and 3 awesome research tools available in SAGE.

Keep up to date with tech info such as 10 simple ways to keep your home cyber safe, have some reading about Beautiful libraries from around the world, or find 3 free apps to help you reduce your energy consumption

Keen? You can view Insight stories here. Don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly newsletter by clicking Subscribe today at the top right hand side of the page!

Streamline your research process with our Library Guides

Our Library Guides will help guide you in the right direction for your research!

Here, in the library, we’re a big fan of anything that makes researching more efficient.

That’s why our Discipline Librarians have created Library Guides for you.

Our Library Guides compile all the databases and key information resources you’ll need for your subject area into one centralised area. Just go to the Borrowing and Resources library page, and select your discipline under Library guides.

You can select a broad discipline, such as business and government, or further narrow your selection to a specific subject, such as marketing.

All the key databases you’ll need for your research will be, literally, just a click away!

We have library guides for the below disciplines; click within the discipline for further subject-specific guides.