Online Student Library Services:
Researching

FedUni students who study online can use this guide to learn how to access Library resources. For more resources, consult the relevant subject guide.
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Researching

This page has some useful tips and tricks on how to find and evaluate your information. Federation University Library also has a range of video tutorials and help sheets to assist you with researching. These can be found under Tutorials & Videos, and include YouTube videos on how to find books and journal articles, as well as links to all our help sheets.

If you need more help you can call us, email us, tweet us, facebook us, IM us, or just drop in to see us.

Keywords

Knowing your keywords is important. Before you can use techniques for effective searching (such as the Boolean Operators ANDOR, and NOT), you need to know what your search terms will be. To do this, you must find appropriate keywords. The first step is to identify the key concepts for your topic. For example:

TOPIC: Discuss the integration of the arts into primary school classrooms.

The basic keywords for your search might then be be arts and primary school.

Then, you would need to look at the synonyms that you could use in your search. For example, as well as primary school you could use the terms elementary schoolgrade school, or junior school.

By gathering a good list of search terms, you will be able to find a greater number of resources relating to your topic.

Hints for more effective searching

The aim of good searching is to get a manageable list of relevant results so you’re not wasting time sifting through pages of irrelevant information. Here are some techniques you can use to specify exactly what you’re looking for:

Link terms with AND Search for articles that include all of the terms entered - required by many database search engines. E.g. business AND consumers AND ethics
Link terms with OR Search for articles that include at least one of the terms entered; often used for alternative term. E.g. elderly OR aged
Link terms with NOT Exclude the irrelevant term from the search results. E.g. photography NOT digital

You should use NOT selectively so it doesn't hinter your results

Truncation * Search for variations of a word by shortening it to its root. E.g. teach* searches for teach, teacher, teaching, teaches
"Phrase searching" Form a single concept made up of multiple words using quotation marks – very effective when searching the Internet. E.g. "Australian Institute of Sport" will have very different results to Australian and institute and sport

Combining your keywords and concepts using these techniques creates a very refined search statement, a bit like an algebraic equation, e.g.

“health care” AND nurs* AND (aged OR elderly) NOT dementia

Managing your information

Once you have found and evaluated your information, you'll need to manage it somehow. It's a good idea to record citations as soon as you find them. Develop a system for recording and keeping track of your references, print and online, so that you have all the necessary information when you need to create your bibliography or reference list. Having to backtrack to find missing details is a real hassle and time waster.

You may find it useful to use EndNote Web, a Web-based program that stores your references and automatically generates a bibliography in the required citation style. The EndNote Web subject guide has more information on EndNote Web.

You have an ethical and legal responsibility to acknowledge all information sources used, whether quoting or paraphrasing. FedCite is the definitive guide to assist you with referencing. 

Do your references pass the CRAAP test?

When was this source published?

How old are the references and data used?

Has this source, or its data, been updated?

Does this type of information get updated?

Is there likely to be more recent information available elsewhere?

Is this information relevant to your assignment? Is there likely to be better information?

Is this aimed at the correct audience?

Who wrote it? What are their qualifications?

Where do they work? Who do they work for?

Are they likely to have a good understanding of this field?

Is the information reliable?

Can you find the original source?

What is the quality of the presentation? Are there significant errors?

Do the conclusions match the data?

Have all sides been considered?

Why has the article been written?

Is there any obvious bias? Is the author or their employer likely to get a benefit out of the recommendations?

Is it recommending a particular course of action or therapy? Does the data support this? Are any alternatives considered?

Liaison Librarians: HDR research consultations

Individual consultations with a Liaison Librarian are available to all HDR students and research staff (scroll down to Research, Learning and Liaison Team).

A Liaison Librarian can:

  • introduce you to Library services and resources which support research
  • help you select appropriate databases and search them effectively
  • provide advice on how you can save and reuse your searches
  • show you how to keep up to date using automated alerts
  • help you to manage your references with EndNote
  • highlight the tools available to measure research impact

Research students are strongly advised to make an appointment with a Liaison Librarian early in the research process, to ensure an effective plan for searching the literature and managing references.

To request an individual consultation you can use the appointment scheduler below:

Schedule an appointment

f the times suggested by the scheduler do not suit, please contact libinfo@federation.edu.au or call 1300 552 567 to arrange an appointment at a mutually convenient time.

Researching Subject Guides