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POLI 1008: Governance and citizenship in Australia

POLI 1008: Assessment advice

This page will help you learn the skills you need to succeed in your assessments.  You can use this page during your continuous assessment activities and your essay assignment.

Before you get started on your assignment, it is strongly recommended that you read the assessment instructions and marking criteria available on your learnonline course site.

1. Before you start

The map below shows the stages of completing your assignment at university. Searching for information is an organic process that takes you down different paths, and sometimes back again, depending on your needs. The process of plan, search, review, and read is one you will often repeat - don’t expect to find all the information you need in one search session. 

Hover over the image below to find out more about each stage.

Understanding the assignment task is an important first step. If you are not clear about what you are expected to do in your assignment, you could waste a lot of time researching, planning and writing about a topic which is not relevant. In turn, you may receive a poor mark because 'you didn't answer the question'. When you analyse the assignment task carefully, you can identify the specific focus so that you are clear what direction to take with your research and ensure you address all aspects of the assignment.

The following document will help you get started with your assignments:

Once you have interpreted the task, think about the topic before you start your research. Brainstorm what you already know about the topic and what you need to find out by thinking back to your lectures, tutorials, readings or your own personal experience. You might surprise yourself with what you already know, and you may also identify gaps in your knowledge which can help you start your initial research process.

Think about where you can find background information about your topic. Try:

  • Lecture recordings
  • Lecture notes
  • Weekly readings
  • Recommended readings

More help:

2. Finding the literature

Taking the time to plan your search will help you search more effectively and find better results. Your search strategy might change as you find more information and incorporate new keywords, but it’s always useful to start with a solid plan.

Learn more and test your skills using the activity below.

Scroll down and click on the slide arrows to resize the activity.

More help:

Information comes in many different forms and depending on your assessment requirements, some types of information are more appropriate than others. When planning your search, it is important to consider what type of information you will need. 

Explore the diagram below to discover different types of information.

In your assignment you have been asked to use academic resources, also referred to as 'peer-reviewed' or scholarly resources. Watch the video below to learn about what makes a resource scholarly and why they are important for your studies.

To find out more:

3. More help with finding literature

When looking for scholarly resources, the Library Collection is a good place to start. It has features that will save you time, make searching easier, and help you find relevant resources. Watch this video to learn how effectively search. 

Databases are specialised search tools which provide more sophisticated search options to focus your search and find material not available through the Library Catalogue.

Watch this video to learn how effectively search. 


Australian Public Affairs Full Text (APAFT) is a multi-disciplinary database which includes articles about Australia's current affairs, economics, humanities, law, literature, politics and social sciences.

To search Australian Public Affairs Full Text:

1. Use quotation marks to search for words together as a phrase. E.g. "representative government" AND Australia

2. Find relevant results by adding concepts (using AND) and alternative concepts (using OR).

E.g. ("representative government" OR "representative democracy") AND Australia

3. Click on the title to view the resource.

More help:

Google Scholar is a good tool to use to extend your search and find resources that are not listed in the Library Catalogue. Access Google Scholar through the Library homepage to maximise your access to full-text resources.

Watch this video to learn how effectively search. 

With your search plan complete, you can start searching for relevant readings. You can use a number of different search tools to help you find information, including the Library Catalogue, Library databases, Google Scholar, and web search engines. You are not expected to use every search tool in every assignment - choose the search tool best suited to your needs. 

Watch the video below for more information about choosing where to search

4. Finding literature continued

Government departments and agencies, and independent organisations, are an excellent source of information resources, such as annual reports, speeches, policy documents, legislation and statistical data.

Watch this video to learn how effectively search. 

Watch this video to learn how effectively search. 

Scholarly (or 'academic') journals are a key way in which research findings are communicated with the academic community. Journals are often published every two or three months, with each issue including a collection of standalone articles related to a particular subject area.

Below are examples of journals which may contain articles relevant for you:

Books are longer written works which can take many forms, from introductory textbooks, to extended arguments by key theorists. They can be very useful in providing a comprehensive overview or in-depth coverage of a topic.

The following books are some examples of relevant books available from the Library:

Try the searches below for more eBooks available through the Library Collection:
              australia* AND politic*
              "australian politics"
              politics AND introduction AND australia

Political party websites contain a lot of information about the party's values, objectives, policies and members. They also contain media and news stories relating to current events. Below are a few of the major Australian federal political parties.

A full list of current registered parties is available from the Australian Electoral Commission.

Parliamentary websites will also provide more information about political parties and their roles in the parliament.

5. Tips on critical reading and notetaking

While you are finding references, you need to be thinking about whether they are appropriate to use in your assignment.  All resources need to be evaluated before including them in your assignment – including resources found through the Library Collection or databases. You need to think critically about the information you find and decide whether it is suitable for your needs. (video length: 3 min 17 sec)

Once you have found suitable references for your assignment, you can start reading and taking notes. There are different reading strategies you may apply at different stages of the essay writing process. For instance, you might skim a source first to identify if it is relevant, scan the source to understand its structure, and then critically read specific sections which are relevant to the assignment task.  While reading your sources, it is also important that you take meaningful notes which can help you think about your argument and paraphrase more effectively.

These resources can help you with your notetaking skills:

6. Tips on writing an essay plan

As you are searching, develop the argument you are going to present as early as you can. In this way, you will be more targeted in trying to find information that will assist you with presenting this argument. Check that your argument, and your topic paragraphs, fit with the assessment details and the marking criteria before moving forward. (video length: 3 min 7 sec)

If you need more help, have a look at the sample essay plans below:

7. The essay

Use your essay plan to  develop your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion in full.  Your completed essay should have a clear argument which is relevant to the assignment task, logically organised so that it is easy to follow, and well supported through the use of credible and reliable sources. 

More resources to help you with writing your assignment:

For more assistance, you can make an appointment with a learning advisor.

Referencing support

Other referencing support tools:

What do you do with all those references you have found?

Use bibliographic management software to store, organise and cite your references. The Library supports the bibliographic management tool EndNote. There are also many free systems available.