Information research skills: getting started: SACE students

Who can help?

UniSA City East Campus [Image source: UniSA Library]Borrowing

Library memberships is free for secondary students in Years 10-12.  This enables students to borrow physical resources (books, DVD's).  Refer to the Borrowing information for details on how to join.

It is important to remember that most of the resources purchased for the Library are now electronic.  Access to electronic resources is restricted. 

Guest Access Computer

If you wish to access electronic resources held by UniSA you will need to visit in person and ask to use the Guest Access Computer. 


Free Resources

The Library has a range of freely accessible resources.  Some of these are listed below.


Looking at algebra [Image source: dollar photo club,]

internet_information_search_query_modern_line_style_help_client_service_question_answer_faq_info_vector_illustration_concept [Image source: dollar photo club,]

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The research process

The Research Project is not like the usual assignment where you are given a topic.  In this instance you need to decide on your own topic to research.  How do you make that decision?

Just answer one of these questions:

  1. What are your plans for the future?
  2. What is your favourite thing to do?

If you answered question 1, focus your research project on these plans. For example, if you plan to go to university use your project to compare the different universities. This way you can (a) hand up a good project and (b) figure out which uni you like the best.

If you answered question 2, you can also focus your project on making comparisons. For example, if you really like reading Who Weekly focus your project on comparing it to Grazia and Hello magazines.

Notations [Image source: dollar photo club,]

You need to have a plan.

Take the time to work out what you really need.

  • Create a mindmap to show what you already know and to branch out into new areas. 
    • Write down the key concepts that 'describe' your research
    • What words will you use to search?
  • Who will you contact? 
  • Do you need basic information on how to conduct interviews or surveys?
  • Notate everything you do
  • Follow the breadcrumbs


Primary and Secondary Resources.

Refer to the SACE website and the Primary and Secondary Sources document.

Primary Resources: A primary source is information and/or records that provide first-hand evidence that can be used to create a picture of what happened at the time. Primary sources may be unpublished. 

Secondary Sources: Secondary sources can be thought of as second-hand information. Secondary sources analyse and interpret primary sources. 

The YouTube video and book titles listed below may help you understand and then create your own primary resource.

Let's try a sample search using part of the SACE Research Project conducted by Oliver: The physics of designing a surfboard

What are the key concepts (which terms would you use to search)?

surfboard design physics

At this point you need to create a mindmap and look at alternative terms you could use:

  • Surfboard (board – probably too broad)
  • Design (construction, techniques, materials)
  • Physics (mechanics)

Always start with a simple search.

e.g. Surfboard AND design (most Library Catalogues and Search Engines assume the AND, you won't need to type it in)

The different searches may look like these, from simple to more complex:

Surfboard AND design

Surfboard AND physics

“surfboard design” AND physics

surfboard AND physics AND (design OR techniques OR construction)

Think about ways to refine your results:

  • date
  • including another term
  • subject options

Try this example in the Google Scholar search field below.  Don't forget to use the Advanced Search option to control and refine your results.


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