Plan Your Library Research
When you are writing for an academic purpose, such as an essay for an assignment, you need to find evidence to support your ideas. The library is a good place to begin your search for supporting evidence. The library collection has an extensive range of books and journals that supports teaching and learning for each study discipline within the University. The following outlines a list of steps to follow when starting to write an academic assignment:
Define your topic and scope of the search
The scope will advise you:
Gather the information
Before writing about your topic, you will need to find evidence to support your ideas.
Books: provide a useful starting point for an introduction to the subject and provide an in-depth coverage of a topic.
Journal Articles: For current research or information on a very specific topic, journal articles may be the most useful, as they are published on a regular basis. It is normally expected that you will use some journal articles in your assignment. When using journal articles, check whether they are from a magazine or scholarly publication. Scholarly publications are often peer reviewed, which means that the articles are reviewed by expert/s before being accepted for publication.
Free Web Publications: useful information can also be found in free web publications from government or research organizations (e.g. reports). Any web publications should be carefully evaluated. You are also required to view the whole publication, not just the abstract, if using the information in your assignment.
Remember to ensure that you note the citation details for references that you collect, at the time of locating the items. It is often time consuming and impossible to track the required data later.
Analyse the information collected
Synthesise your information
Write the report or essay
Remember to start your library research as early as possible as key texts may be in high demand.
Visit the ECU Library Essentials Guide step by step introduction to the assignment process.
Analysing the Topic
Do you understand the assignment question? If the topic is new to you:
For more information on how to analyse your topic, visit the ECU Library Essentials: The Assignment Process
How to Find Books
Books are usually a good place to start researching your topic, as they provide an introduction and overview of the subject. This gives you the background you need for researching more specific aspects of the topic.
You can identify find books that are suitable as information sources for your academic writing in several ways:
- Check your Reading List and Set Texts listed in your Blackboard unit
- Use ECU Worldsearch to find books on a topic (print and e-books) using a Keyword search
- Locate books from a reference list
- Link to a journal title
Remember to identify the books you need for an assignment as soon as possible, as key texts are in high demand.
For step by step instruction on how to search for books using ECU Worldsearch, visit the How-To videos on the Library Essentials guide
How to Find Journal Articles
A good place to start searching is by using ECU WorldSearch, which searches the Library’s collections of books, journal articles and other resources.
Type in the keywords that you’ve identified. The system will automatically combine keywords.
Limit your search to Journal articles by using the filters listed on the left hand side bar. The Advanced Search option may provide a more efficient search, as you can place multiple limits in the one search.
Simple Search Tips for Databases:
For a more specific search select one of the subject specific databases listed in the Library Guide for your course. Databases are also listed alphabetically by title in the A-Z list on the Library's website.
For step by step instruction on how to search for journal articles, use the Advanced search and database searching, visit the How-To videos on the Library Essentials guide
How to Find Web Resources
Internet searches can locate useful information sources for your academic writing, including web publications from government departments, research organisations, conference proceedings, reports and other open source information that is freely avaible.
Any information you use for your academic assignments, including sources from the web, must be carefully evaluated and it is recommended to view the whole publication, not just the abstract.
Searching the web can give a large number of search results and you will need to filter out any results that are not relevant. A quick way of judging the quality and relevance of a source is to evaluate your information against the 4 Rs. Is the information:
Edith Cowan University acknowledges and respects the Nyoongar people, who are the traditional custodians of the land upon which its campuses stand and its programs operate.
In particular ECU pays its respects to the Elders, past and present, of the Nyoongar people, and embrace their culture, wisdom and knowledge.