You’ll complete a variety of assessments while at UniSA, including essays, reviews, reports and more. While assessment types may vary, the essential search process stays the same.
This page will guide you through that process, from question interpretation and search strategy creation to resource evaluation and referencing.
Begin by clarifying the assessment requirements. Read the assignment instructions and marking criteria supplied on your course site. The video below explains more about writing assignments at university.
If you need to develop a research topic/question, visit the Develop your research question tab on this guide to learn how.
You’ll need a broad understanding of your topic before searching. Brainstorm what you already know and what you need to investigate.
Searching for background information can build your understanding of your assignment. Find this through the Library Collection or the web (see step 6).
Select the plus symbols below to learn more about background information.
A mind map can also be helpful in organising your thoughts at this point.
| Read: Using mind maps to plan your assignment
Try: Bubbl.us (free online mind mapping tool)
To search effectively it is important to prepare a search strategy.
Identify the key concepts (main ideas) in your assignment. Terminology used will vary, so be sure to consider alternative terms for each. These will be your search keywords.
Have a look at the example question below to see how to start preparing your search strategy.
You can use quotation marks (“ “) to find an exact match, e.g. “healthcare professional”.
Combine your terms to form your search strategy (you'll type this in the search box):
This list doesn't show every possible search term, just a few examples.
Now consider the types of resources needed to complete your assignment. As information comes in many different formats, some types may be more appropriate to your assessment requirements.
Select the plus symbols below to read more about some of the main resources.
Peer reviewed resources
You may be asked to use 'peer reviewed' or 'refereed' references. These are evaluated by subject experts before publication, so can indicate higher quality and more authoritative information. Not all 'scholarly' or 'academic' resources are peer reviewed.
You can search for information using a range of tools, including the Library Collection and databases, Google Scholar, and internet search engines. Choose the sources that are best suited to your needs.
Select the plus symbols below to learn more about different search options.
This is the default option when searching in the Library Collection.
1. Add in one keyword for each concept, combining them with AND.
Note: Searching for more general terms will find more results.
2. Select Search.
3. Swap your keywords with your alternative terms to see different results.
If you would like to do a more comprehensive search, use the Advanced search.
1. Put each concept on a new line
2. Add your alternative words, combining them with OR.
3. Select Search.
Use the filters on the left to limit and refine your results.
You could try limiting to:
Full text online
Publication date range
Searching in Medline is different to searching in the Library Collection.
1. Type your first concept and alternative words into the search box.
2. Untick the box labeled Map to Subject Heading.
3. Select Search.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 for your next concepts.
5. Tick the boxes next to each of your concept lines.
6. Select Combine with AND.
7. Scroll down to see your results.
You can do a basic or advanced search, just like in the Library Collection.
1. Type all your keywords for your first concept into the search box.
2. Select the plus symbol to the right to add a line for your next concept.
3. Add all your keywords for your second concept into the search bar.
4. Repeat steps 2-3 until you have used all your concepts.
5. Select Search.
More useful databases:
You can search Google Scholar in the same way as a basic search on the Library homepage.
To find relevant websites that are recommended for your area of study, have a look at the Find evidence: government and organisation information tab in this guide.
You could also visit the following resources:
You can use Google to search for information from professional bodies, governments, and non-government organisations. This might include reports, clinical guidelines, professional standards, codes of conduct, and more.
Google has a number of useful search features that can make your searching more efficient:
If you are looking for information on the internet, it's worth downloading LibKey Nomad. It's a browser extension that will look for full text PDFs of journal articles from websites outside of the Library Collection. This is helpful when looking on pages such as Wikipedia, because you can easily access and read the articles from the reference list. Instructions to download LibKey Nomad are available here.
You should critically evaluate all resources found to determine their appropriateness for your assignment. The video below explains more.
You must appropriately cite (‘acknowledge’) all references used in your assignment to avoid plagiarism.
The Study Help: assignment writing page has lots of information to help you with writing various types of assignments, including
The following resources will help you prepare for oral presentations:
Watch: Building great business presentations (1:08:00)
Read: Oral presentations (Study Help page)
Read: Ten simple rules for making good oral presentations
The following resources will help you formulate your debate:
Visit: Toastmasters International website
Read: Debating: a brief introduction for beginners (Debating SA)
Watch: Debate skill: argument building (11:08)
Watch: Debate lesson: refutation and rebuttal (11:11)
The following resources will help you create videos:
Watch: How to write a script (3:51)
The following resources will help you create podcasts:
Watch: Producing podcasts (1:42:00)
Watch: How to start a podcast (14:26)
Open source (free) software: