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How To: Assignment Planning



Good research funnel

Develop a search strategy

  • Begin by accurately defining what you are searching for.
  • Start general - Get Specific : After reading your lecture notes and reading list materials you will have identified specific concept(s), words and phrases within the topic.
  • These words and phrases are now your "search terms" , which you will use to search for materials on the Library catalogue and databases.
  • Use a thesaurus to find additional terms (synonyms).
  • Create a mind map to help you organise and expand upon your search terms.

Example Mind Map

Ask yourself the following questions:
  • What words MUST be included in the search?
  • What words MIGHT be included in the search?
  • What words SHOULD NOT be included in the search?

Example: 'Wiki' and 'Web 2.0' and 'blogs' not 'Social'
  • Begin with sources available physically in the library (search the library catalogue)
  • Then, using the 'Subject Guides' option on the Library website, search the Library databases for content relevant to your topic.
  • It's important to use information that is accurate and reliable - it's not just about Google!

Find reliable resources

Q.      Where do you find RELIABLE information for your assignment?

A.        A variety of sources and resources are available to you…

such as books, eBooks, journal articles, reports, magazine and newspaper articles, websites, podcasts and conference proceedings can all be used as evidence in your essay.  It is highly recommended that you use a variety of these sources in your essay.

Regional Spelling Variations

  • Beware of the difference between English and American spelling – e.g. behaviour or behavior | organisation or organization | colour or color | counselling or counseling.
  • You may need to search for both or use a wildcard if compatible with the database.

Related guides

Check out some of our related guides for more information.

Conduct the search and review the results

As you find books and journal articles on your topic:

  • Take a look at the reference lists for additional relevant material.
  • With journal articles, check if the article is from a special issue where the whole issue is devoted to one subject area.
  • Look for new subject headings, terms or concepts that can be incorporated into the search strategy.
  • How relevant are the articles being retrieved by your searches?
  • Are there synonyms that you could be using to retrieve different records?    
  • Revise your search statement if necessary.