Once you have an assignment question, where do you start? Where do you look for information?
That depends on what you're looking for. Different types of assignments require different approaches, and you will need to look in different locations for the best sources of information for your work.
The steps below are a brief introduction to research, including how to find quality data and information for your assignment or research topic. If you need assistance or more explanation, please visit the further assistance page.
Our Information Essentials site has a great deal of information to help you with the assignment process.
Check out Finding General Information.
You can also check up on the topic on general information websites such as Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not a scholarly source, and is not an appropriate reference to use for your university assignments. However, it can provide basic background information that will inform your research and help you to choose keywords.
The Reading List—along with your unit materials—is the first place you should look when beginning your research. Your class readings have been chosen by your unit coordinator, a subject-matter expert. Many of these resources can be used as stepping stones to further information, by:
To access your Reading Lists, sign into Blackboard or Canvas and select a unit. The menu for each unit should have a Reading Lists optio - click on this to view the reading materials for the unit.
Is there ever 'one perfect source' when looking for information for an assignment? This tutorial, created by North Carolina State University Libraries, shows you how to get better results by breaking down your topic. Video runs for just over 2 minutes; English captions available.
Need more help?
Try brainstorming with classmates in your tutorial or in your unit's online discussion boards. If the assessment is not a group assessment, writing it together can be academic misconduct (see "Unauthorised Collaboration"), but discussing the assignment requirements and your research process is usually OK. If you're not sure, ask your unit coordinator or tutor.
Alternatively, come to a drop-in session or book an appointment with a librarian to get some tips.
As powerful as search engines are, there are ways to improve your use of them.
You can improve your search using:
Most search engines (including Google and Bing) allow you to use this sort of search syntax, similar to library databases. Different search engines offer different options, and may use different symbols for the same functions.
See the Information Essentials Library Guide for details.
If you are using Google Scholar to find peer-reviewed articles, enable Find It@ECU to get access to full-text articles in databases that require a login, as long as the the Library subscribes to the journal the article was published in.
Follow these simple instructions.
Need more help?
Visit the Academic Skills Centre Blackboard site or attend an Academic Skills Workshop to improve your skills in reading and writing. You can develop these skills over time, and it will save you time and effort over the course of your degree.
Alternatively, come to a drop-in session or book an appointment with a librarian (evaluation) or learning adviser (academic writing) to get some personalised tips.
At university, referencing is normal and expected. It does not mean that you were unable to come up with an idea on your own, or that you do not have your own expertise in your field. It is a signal that you are engaging with scholarship in your field and can back up your ideas with appropriate evidence.
For specific referencing help, please refer to ECU's Referencing Guide. This guide details the APA (7th edition) style of referencing and has links to information about other styles.
If you are a research student, depending on your subject and the preferences of your supervisor, you might be expected to use IEEE style referencing. Information about this style can be found here and a guide with examples is available under the IEEE Style Guide tab. If you are planning to publish, check the author submission guidelines for your chosen journal. You might be expected to use a different style entirely.
EndNote is a computer application which provides you with your own personal reference management database. You can use EndNote to keep track of the references you found during your research and store related PDFs. You can also create in-text citations and end-text reference lists in your chosen style using a Word add-in. Downloads are available for ECU students.
Note that EndNote can be tricky, so we suggest that students come along to a workshop if possible.
Edith Cowan University acknowledges and respects the Noongar people, who are
the traditional custodians of the land upon which its campuses stand and its programs
In particular ECU pays its respects to the Elders, past and present, of the Noongar people, and embrace their culture, wisdom and knowledge.