When looking for information for your studies or assessment tasks start by following these three steps:
The information below will help you work through each of these steps and lead you to relevant and higher quality information sources.
Before starting to search for information sources it is helpful to do a topic analysis to clarify and understand what you are being asked to do.
You will generally be given three key pieces of information in your assignment question:
To demonstrate let's look at an example question:
Identify three key impact factors on quality of life for older persons in Australia and discuss.
|Instruction words||Identify, discuss|
|Key concepts||quality of life, older persons|
|Limiters||Impact factors, Australian, three|
After you have identified the key concepts and limits of your question, have a go at brainstorming as many alternative keywords and phrases as possible.
Thinking about your topic in this way forces you to describe your topic in "other words", which will cement your understanding of the question. It will also provide you with some useful keyword alternatives to use when searching for information.
|Key concept, limit||Alternative keywords or synonyms|
|Older person||Senior, elderly person, senior citizen, retiree|
|Quality of life||Lifestyle, environment, living conditions, standard of living|
|Impact factor||Determinant, factor, influence, variable, circumstance, aspect|
There is nothing wrong with using the internet for your research. The video on this page and the table below offer some tips on improving your searches to increase the relevance of the results.
Just make sure you evaluate your sources before you use them.
|Search for an exact phrase, or match||
Put your search terms in quotation marks
"quality of life"
|Exclude a word from your search||
Put a dash - before any word you want to exclude
"aged care" -jobs
Use OR between your search terms to expand the results to more topics
"living conditions" OR "quality of life"
|Search within a range of numbers||
Use two periods .. between the numbers to return results within that range
"standard of living" 2012..2017
|Search within a website||
Use site: to search within a particular web address or to limit your results to a domain type
Now that you have found some resources, how can you tell if they are suitable for your use?
You can use the CRAP test to evaluate a range of resource types - websites, books, journals, newspapers, magazines etc. Ask yourself the following questions to evaluate the resource against the criteria of Currency, Reliability, Authority and Purpose:
Is it current enough for your topic?
A general rule is to use resources published in the last 5 years.
Is the source reputable?
Does the creator provide references?
Do those references pass the CRAP test?
Who is the creator or author?
What are their qualifications?
Are they an expert in the field?
Is it fact or opinion?
Is it biased or balanced?
Is the creator trying to sell you something?
Charles Sturt University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which its campuses are located, paying respect to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.
Charles Sturt University is an Australian University, TEQSA Provider Identification: PRV12018. CRICOS Provider: 00005F.