Sometimes starting assignments can be stressful.  You can navigate the process more easily by following these steps.  

Step 1: Understand your assignment   

Make sure that you’ve read the assessment task information thoroughly and are aware of the type of assignment you’ve been given. See our webpage for more information on assignment types. 

Look for the directive words in the assignment question—they give clear instructions on how you must demonstrate your understanding of the material. 

Next, look for the topic and limiting words in the assignment question—these will be the keywords you use to begin your research.    

  • Topic words are the major concepts in your task. 
  • Limiting words like dates, locations, demographics or geography help narrow the scope of your assignment. 

A sentence with words highlighted and defined. The sentence is "Critically evaluate the impact that social media has had on well-being in Australian adolescents." Critically evaluate is highlighted and defined as a directive word, Australian is highlighted and defined as a limiting word and the words social media, well-being and adolescents are highlighted and defined as topic words.

For more information see the understand your assessment webpage. 

Step 2: Prepare to search 

Brainstorm to identify alternative keywords for the topic and limiting words you’ve already identified. Make sure you use language appropriate to your area of research and include any alternative spellings. 

See the prepare to search webpage for more information on using search techniques such as phrase searching, truncation and Boolean to help capture all relevant material while focusing your search. 

Step 3: Search for information  

Review the resources available on the search for information webpage and determine whether the Library catalogue, databases or even Google Scholar are appropriate for your research needs. 

Once you begin to search, experiment with different keyword combinations and review the results to determine what’s working best. Use search techniques, the filters in the catalogue and databases to refine search results. Most importantly, save your search to keep track of what you’ve tried. 

Step 4: Evaluate your sources  

Evaluate your sources to ensure that you’re using material that is appropriate for your assessment. Be aware that some assignments require you to only use scholarly sources, some will ask for only peer reviewed resources while others will require grey literature. If you’re unsure what these terms mean, see the evaluate your sources webpage for more information. 

For further support, get in contact via chat, phone, email or complete the Get help from the Library form.   

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