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Research tips

Research tips

Read your question or briefing carefully and identify key terms or concepts. Think of synonyms or similar words that may be used to describe the same thing. Now consider what type of evidence, information or research you are looking for. This might suggest other terms to add to your search, and where to search.

This approach is more effective than pasting the assessment question into a search box.


Expand or narrow your search results by using connectors (or operators) to form a relationship between your search terms.

AND - connects your terms together. You will only retrieve results that contain ALL your terms

OR - expands your results. You will retrieve results that contain ANY of your terms

NOT - excludes terms from your results

(brackets OR parentheses) - brackets groups terms together, particularly useful for grouping synonyms in an OR search

"quotation marks" - put terms in double quotation marks to search for the words as an exact phrase

Use a database or search engine's 'advanced' search options to show the AND, OR and NOT connectors. Advanced search usually enables a choice of which field the words should appear in.

A regular or 'basic' search will search for your terms across any or all fields. In an advanced search you can target fields  like 'title', 'author', 'subject' or 'abstract'.


In academic search engines like Library Search, ProQuest or EBSCO you can refine your results by options such as:

  • Content type, e.g. books, peer-reviewed journal articles or newspaper articles
  • Date range
  • Topic/subject


Once you find a resource, how do you know if it is useful for the research you are conducting? You could read/watch/listen to it, but you could save time by first testing the resource against the CRAP test. The CRAP test is a set of 4 criteria you can quickly measure a resource against to see whether it is worth engaging with further.


Is this the most up to date resource you can find? Is it new enough for the purposes of your topic?


Is the material relevant to your topic and your arguments?


Who is the author? Are they a credible source? Are they qualified to talk about this subject? Are arguments backed up with evidence (such as references or citations)?


What is the purpose of the resource? E.g. Is it designed to sell, entertain, vent, educate, present research?


It is important to acknowledge the work of others in your assignments or research. You do this by citing (or referencing).

Citing shows the reader the quality of resources you used to build and support your arguments. It provides a way for the reader to locate the resources you referred to. Citing also clearly shows the reader how and where you’ve drawn on other people’s words, ideas and research. Clearly citing your resources helps avoid plagiarism.

There are tools to help you cite a resource. In academic databases like Library Search, ProQuest or Google Scholar, look for the quotation marks in the resource's record to generate an automatic citation or reference in a style such as APA. Generally the more academic or scholarly your resource is, the easier it will be to cite.

Reference management software such as RefWorks or Mendeley is recommended to help with your citations, especially when you have a longer list of citations.

The Library produces guides on each of styles used at Bond University. These guides cover:

  • in-text citations and quotations
  • how to cite different types of resources in your reference list or bibliography
  • how to format your reference list or bibliography.


Librarians recommend that you keep details of good resources somewhere so that you can refer to them again in future. Options include:

  1. Using a reference management tool such as Mendeley or RefWorks not only saves the citation, but you can add a PDF of the article or chapter, or a link directly to the resource.
  2. Pinning a record in Library Search adds it to your 'My Collection'. Remember to sign in first or pinned records will only be kept during your search session.
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