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What do you need to do

This guide will get you started with finding academic references for your essay.

It's important to understand your assessment before you start searching. Reading through the details in your course outline and course website will help you:

  • Know what you need to do
  • Know what types of resources you need 
  • Understand where to search
Please refer to your Course Outline and LearnOnline site for full assessment information.

Searching for literature: plan your search

Essay question: How is place cultural? Discuss with reference to: cultural myths, visualising place, virtualising space, embodying place, traumascapes or cultural  constructions of human waste management’.

This assignment question has many different concepts that you need to research. You need to conduct separate searches for each of these concepts.

For example 'cultural place' and 'cultural traumscape' have been taken from the above essay question to create a search strategy.

You could create a table similar to the one below for the other key concepts in your assignment question. 

Main concepts

Concept 1

Cultural Place

Concept 2


Synonyms (similar concepts) 

Artistic spaces

Cultural sites

Cultural landscape 

Geographical areas

Physical places

Figurative Landscape 

Spaces of mourning

Cultural traumascapes

Tip: As you search, you may come across more concepts or synonyms you can incorporate. Don't be afraid to change or modify your search as you go.

Watch or read the below for more information on how to put together a search using operators:

More help


Searching for literature: Understanding boolean operators

Boolean operators (connectors) are what you use to connect your search concepts together to form different search strategies.

Boolean operator What it does Example
  • Finds less results when concepts are combined with AND 
Memory AND Trauma
  • Broadens your search
  • Includes results that use different terminology
Cultural traumascape" OR "cultural place") OR "places of mourning"
Search strategy: ("Cultural traumascape" OR "cultural place") OR "places of mourning" AND (memory AND trauma)

Remember to use "quotation marks" to keep phrases together.

Look at the box below to see how this search strategy using boolean operators can be using in the Library Collection and Google Scholar. 

3. Find information


The Library Collection is a great place to start finding information. 

Use your search strategy in the search bar. 

Too many search results? Use the Refine my Results menu (on the left hand side) to narrow down your search.

  • Limit to articles from Peer-Reviewed Journals
  • Limit by Publication Date e.g 2016 to 2022

Want to know more?


Try Google Scholar to find scholarly information. Make sure to access Google Scholar through the link above or from the  Library homepage to get access to the full text of any resources that we have in the UniSA library collection.

Want to Know More?

Databases are online collections of resources including articles, papers, book chapters and reports. Databases have advanced search options, helping to focus your search and find more relevant, scholarly references quickly. 

You can find databases by title or browse by subject list for example under Category> Creative Art

  • NewsBank Newspapers – Includes national and international titles.
  • Multidisciplinary databases – Also try searching some of the library's multidisciplinary databases which cover a wide range of subjects.
  • Humanities & Social Sciences Collection (via Informit)– Multidisciplinary database focused on Australia and New Zealand history and contemporary society.
  • Cambridge Histories – Provides full text online access to the complete 250-plus volumes of Cambridge Histories reference series. Provides political, economic and social history, philosophy and literature of selected countries and subjects
  • AustLit – Information about Australian authors and their work, covering a broad variety of literary forms (e.g. autobiography, poetry, interview, short story, novel, essay, lyric/song). Excellent coverage of Australian Indigenous authors.
  • JSTOR – Search and view historical and current content of core scholarly journals and books in the humanities, social sciences and sciences. Browsing by subject is available.

Scholarly sources

You need to find scholarly references to support your assignment. To learn more about what scholarly sources are, watch this video (2 min 22):

Evaluating Information

It is important to evaluate the information you find. Watch this short video (3 min 16) for more information view the Evaluate page.

Writing your assignment

UniSA has an excellent tutorial called Writing Your Essay that walks you through every step of writing a successful essay.

For more information on assignment writing, please visit Study Help for a range of resources to help with study and assignments.

Watch the below video for some tips on report writing.

For more information on assignment writing, please visit Study Help for a range of resources to help with study and assignments.

Study Support

The Student Engagement Unit has created a suite of resources called Study Help that can help you understand different assignment types and study skills.

There is also a Writing your assignment page that can also assist you with interpreting your topic and planning your search

  • Referencing Roadmap (Harvard)
    Help with the Harvard UniSA referencing style. Find in text-citations and reference examples, from different sources such as articles, books & chapters, websites, and more.
  • Referencing hub
    Information around what is referencing, paraphrasing, referencing rules, referencing styles and Academic Integrity. Also includes a link to the Harvard Referencing Guide UniSA (pdf).
  • Referencing forum
    Discuss referencing, exchange advice and post questions and answers about referencing (facilitated by Student Engagement Unit).
  • EndNote
    What do you do with all those references you have found? Use a 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.

Ask the library

‚ÄčAsk the Library for help via live chat, phone, email, or access our suite of self-help resources.