Where to research for your assignment

It is important to find high quality information for your assignments. Here are some key resources to help you get started with your research.

Course readings

Course readings are a great place to start when doing research for assignments.

Find your course Reading List in Learning@Griffith. It can be found in your course profile or in the Readings section of your course site.

Reading lists provide you with links to online resources (eBooks, journal articles, web pages), or to the Library catalogue so you can find print resources.

You can also find copies of your course readings in the Library catalogue. Simply search for the title of the journal article or book. Still can’t find the right item? Try including the author’s name in the search.

Library catalogue

The Library catalogue is a great place to search for resources. From books, journal articles and videos to conference proceedings, newspaper articles and online documents, the Library catalogue has it all and more!

It lets you search for a huge number of resources in one place – the search box on the library home page.

Databases

To find specialised information, you will need to use online search tools, like the Library databases. You can search databases to find specialised resources, such as:

The library also has databases for different disciplines. So if you require information on a business, law, education, health, science or social science topic, there is a database for you.

Not sure which database to search for your discipline? Check out our handy library guides.

Google Scholar

Now, you’ve probably used Google to search for information before. Whether it was for academic, work or recreational purposes, we all know how helpful the search engine can be.

But did you know Google has an academic search engine? Google Scholar is a search engine which searches a wide variety of sources including academic online journals, conference papers, dissertations, technical reports and books.

You can even use Google Scholar to find academic resources at Griffith University. It’s as simple as changing a setting. Head to Griffith’s Ask us page to find out how.

– Extract from Study Smart –


Got an assignment to do? Here’s how to get started

1. Unpack the question

The first step to getting your assignment done is to understand what you need to do. You need to pull your assignment question apart to figure out how to put an answer together that will score you top marks.

So how do you analyse an assignment question? Follow the four simple steps on our preparing for your assignment webpage.

2. Research

Now you know what you need to be focusing on, it’s time to start researching. Not sure where to begin? Check out our online modules on:

3. Write

Once all your research is done, (sorry, but it is inevitable) you’ve got to start writing. No, that doesn’t mean staring at an open word document for an hour, typing in a title, saving the document and returning to Reddit. You’ve actually got to start writing. Trust us, the sooner you start, the better you’ll feel. Future you will thank past you. Then current you can thank us ;).

We’ve got an online guide to writing your assignments. Not sure where to start? Use the online guide and plan out your assignment structure in the word document. Then you can save it with a title and a structure. We’ll high-five to that.

4. Reference

Once you’ve powered through the writing process–probably with the aid of coffee or Red Bull, and possibly with a few Netflix or stress breaks–it’s time to ensure all your work is referenced properly and to give it a good proof read.

Check out our referencing webpage to get on top of your referencing, and take a look at our referencing tool to make sure your citations are structured correctly.


Your guide to the different types of sources when researching

When it comes to finding resources for university assignments, you need to consider how authoritative the source is. Basically, there are three types of sources based on level of authority: scholarly, peer reviewed, and non-scholarly.

It is your responsibility to find out which type of source to use for your assignment.

Scholarly sources

Scholarly sources are usually written by academics or researchers who are experts in their area of research.

These researchers have authority in their field and produce highly credible work. Their work is a more reliable source of information than non-scholarly sources.

The most common scholarly source is a journal article. A journal is like a scholarly magazine. It focuses on a particular subject area, contains articles written by academic experts, and is written for an audience of experts.

Some books can also be considered a scholarly resource. Books which are written by academic experts for an academic audience are likely to be scholarly sources.

Peer-reviewed sources

Peer-reviewed sources are one of the most reliable sources of information. Peer-reviewed journal articles, also known as refereed journal articles, go through a process of review by one or more experts in the field of study before publication.

How do you find peer reviewed sources? Well, if you are using the Griffith University Library Catalogue, you can select the Peer-Reviewed/Refereed materials checkbox in the Advanced Search.

You can also search Ulrich’s Web to check the journal’s status. It provides information about published journals, including status as a scholarly, academic journal.

Non-scholarly sources

Although scholarly and peer-reviewed sources are often the focus for university assignments, you still may need to use information from a non-academic author.

Non-scholarly sources include those not written for an academic audience, like newspaper articles, government reports, magazines and most web sites – including Wikipedia.

These sources can be a great place to find background information about a topic, but it is important to evaluate your sources so that you are using reliable and accurate information.


Where to start researching for your assignment

It’s about that time of trimester where you’re probably getting started (or have already started) on researching for your assignments. It may seem like a monumental task. Maybe the thought of starting is overwhelming you? We mean, where do you even start? (hint: it’s not Facebook. Close that tab.)

Master procrastinators, it’s time to listen up (and get started)! Below are some key places you can start your research:

1. Course Readings

Course readings are a great place to start when doing research for assignments. You can find your course Reading List in Learning@Griffith, in the Readings section of your course site. Reading Lists provide you with links to online resources (eBooks, journal articles, web pages), or to the Library catalogue, so you can find print resources.

2. Library catalogue

The Library catalogue is a great place to search for resources. From books, journal articles and videos to conference proceedings, newspaper articles and online documents, the Library catalogue has it all, and more!

It lets you search for a huge number of resources in one place – the search box on the library home page.

3. Databases

To find specialised information, you will need to use online search tools, like the Library databases.

You can search databases to find specialised resources, such as:

The library also has databases for different disciplines. So if you require information on a business, law, education, health, science or social science topic, there is a database for you.

Not sure which database to search for your discipline? Check out our handy library guides.

4. Google Scholar

Now, you’ve probably used Google to search for information before. Whether it was for academic, work or recreational purposes, we all know how helpful the search engine can be.

But did you know Google has an academic search engine? Google Scholar is a search engine which searches a wide variety of sources including academic online journals, conference papers, dissertations, technical reports and books.

You can even use Google Scholar to find academic resources at Griffith University. It’s as simple as changing a setting. Head to the About Google Scholar webpage to find out how.


Post-grad? Get your research skills on point!

Calling all post-grad researchers!

Now’s the perfect time to laze at the beach brush up on your research skills!

Have you taken a look at our Postgrad Research Information Skills Modules?

Designed to help you navigate your way through the research cycle, the modules have been grouped into three sections: Discover, Manage and Publish.

The modules provide you with strategies, resources and interactive learning activities to enable you to successfully complete your project.

Discover how to develop your research question, find the literature you need, and use the literature.

Manage your organisation or citations and references, ensure you maintain research integrity, manage your research data effectively, and learn about author profiles.

Then–ahhh, the culmination of all your hard work–Publish. Learn how to select a journal, submit a manuscript, and navigate the peer review, revising and editing processes. Explore collaboration options and how to use social media to expand your readership and altmetric score. Learn about scholarly impact of your publication. Then–go at it again! Find resources to help with getting funding for future research!


Nine tips to help you with researching

Do you want to be able to search efficiently and effectively? Below are nine tips and tricks to help you achieve better search results.

1. Analyse your assignment question
Keywords are key! You’ll need to analyse your assignment question to develop a list of keywords you can use in online search tools.

2. Brainstorm more keywords
Make sure you are using synonyms of your keywords. Consult a thesaurus; there are plenty of free versions online. Your topic is probably discussed by experts using a variety of terms and you’ll want to catch all of this research.

3. Watch out for words with different spelling options
You need to be aware of the words you are using which could have an alternative spelling. Remember, there are differences between British English and American English spelling i.e. colour and color. Some search tools will automatically find both spellings, but some you need to include both versions (see #7 for further tips).

4. Know your limits
Most search tools let you limit your results in a range of ways. Use these tools to focus your results to only the content you need.

5. Keep keywords together
Sometimes you really need your keywords to stick together. If the words aren’t in the correct order, then the results aren’t relevant. For example, higher education. Most search tools will find your phrase in the correct order if you enclose the words in quotation marks e.g. “higher education”.

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, it will only find results that contain teen. That’s fine, if that’s what you wanted. But chances are you would like results for teen, teens, teenager, and teenaged. If you use truncation, you don’t need to type in all of these words. Just use a symbol (usually the asterisk *) to tell the online search tool to find any endings to your keyword. For example, you can search for teen* and find results for all of them 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 may search for behavio?r

8. Combine keywords with synonyms
Use Boolean operators to combine keywords and synonyms. Boolean operators are the terms AND, OR and NOT. 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 the reference lists of the resources you find. They may list other helpful sources of information that you can use.


Say goodbye to your research storage problems!

Are you a research student? If so, we’re sure you know the immense effort, organisation and dedication that goes into your research.

So, what’s at the crux of all your research? Data! Or, an incredibly stressed coffee-fuelled research student. Your call. But we’re gonna go with data.

But – what do you do with all your data? Where are you saving  it? I mean, it is the crux of your research, so we hope you’re storing it somewhere suitable.

Did you know that Griffith University offers various storage services to all researchers and research students affiliated with the university via the Research Storage Service.

These services include Research Space, Research Drive, and Research Vault. There’s even a nifty little questionnaire you can take, which tells you which service is best for you.

We tested it out, and we can tell you with certainty that it takes under one minute, and that our fictitious data is best suited to Research Space.

The service can help you store, share and synchronise the digital data generated during your research project. Your data is stored on Griffith systems, not off-shore.

You get unlimited storage, can access the service anytime and anywhere, and you can share files easily with collaborators at Griffith, in Australia and overseas.

For more information on the various services, check out the FAQs for Research Drive, Research Space and Research Vault.