Research steps

1. Analyse and define your topic

Identify key concepts from your topic. Look at example below:.

↓ Click the box below to show the key concepts ↓

"Does advertising encourage teenagers to take up smoking?"
You might also like to consider variation and alternatives to these words such as advertizing, adolescents, children or cigarettes.

Use these concepts as keywords when searching Findit, the Library Catalogue or databases.

2. Find background information

Use encyclopaedias and dictionaries to find background information on your subject.

Try searching Findit for 'encyclopaedia and <your discipline>'. For example, a keyword search for 'encyclopaedia and microbiology' will find encyclopaedias in that field.

3. Develop your research using relevant resources

Findit makes it easy to find resources. Simply enter the keywords from your topic and it will search across most of the Library's resources including books and journal articles.

Our subject guides provide direction when performing more in-depth literature searches.

4. Evaluate your resources

Evaluate your resources in terms of relevance, currency, reliability and accuracy.


Is the resource relevant to your topic? Do you really want to reference an essay on the use of metaphor in Animal Farm when you're actually writing an essay on epidemiology of agricultural diseases?


Is the resource up-to-date? Does it consider the latest research in your field? Some disciplines move more quickly than others.


Is the resource from a reliable source? Can you find out who the author is, what their qualifications are and with whom they are affiliated? If it is a journal article, is it from a reputable, peer-reviewed journal?


Is the resource accurate and precise? Is the information contained therein properly referenced? If it is original research, is there evidence that the research actually took place?

5. Manage and organise your information

Keep a record of all the resources you have used, including books, articles, print outs and photocopies. Note the full source on your photocopies in order to save substantial time when writing your assignment and reference list.

Consider using reference management software like EndNote, Zotero or Mendeley.

6. Cite your references

In academic writing, you are expected to acknowledge the work of others, demonstrate the body of knowledge on which you have based your work, and enable other researchers to trace your sources.

Incomplete or incorrect referencing may cause you to unwittingly claim authorship or ideas or statements that are not your own. Plagiarism is an academic offense and is taken very seriously at Murdoch University.

Ensure you use the correct referencing style as nominated by your lecturer/tutor.

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