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Leadership In Healthy Ageing: Research Tips

Finding and evaluating Information

When looking for information for your studies or assessment tasks start by following these three steps:

  1. Understand your question
  2. Search for information
  3. Evaluate what you've found

The information below will help you work through each of these steps and lead you to relevant and higher quality information sources.

Understanding your question

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:

  1. The task or instruction terms tell how you are to deal with the content. UNSW has a glossary for common instruction words.
  2. The key topic or concept words direct you in what to research.
  3. The limits or qualifiers tell you the specific focus of the topic or concept.

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

Effective internet searching

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

Combine searches

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

site: abs.gov.au

site:.edu

Evaluating information using the CRAP test

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:

Currency

Is it current enough for your topic?

A general rule is to use resources published in the last 5 years.

Reliability

Is the source reputable?

Does the creator provide references?

Do those references pass the CRAP test?

Authority

Who is the creator or author?

What are their qualifications?

Are they an expert in the field?

Purpose

Is it fact or opinion?

Is it biased or balanced?

Is the creator trying to sell you something?

Topic analysis

Sources of Information

Using the internet

Get better search results

Evaluating information