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Writing Guide: Getting started with research

This guide covers: understanding the essay question; searching databases and organising research; the writing process: critical thinking and note-taking; referencing and citing in text, and using academic language.

Research Points

Before you research:

  • Go through your notes and readings to find suitable keywords.
  • Ask some questions, think about who would be writing the answers, where they would write them and what words they would use.
  • Think strategically about the range of resources you are going to use.

As you research:

  • Research in chunks - find a little bit, read what you've found, then use what you've read to inform how you approach the next chunk of your research (follow the advice in "reading smarter").
  • Generate new questions and keywords as you go along.
  • Note which authors talk about which topics and play "citation tag" - follow the references and find the citing articles.
  • Work on a research file.

After you research:

  • Select the most relevant works to read more carefully.
  • Feel free to go back and do some more research if you've found some gaps that need plugging - it's an ongoing process.
  • Make sure you complete a proper reference list.
  • When you've finished with the assignment, file, note or dump the readings you have found - but look ahead, first.  Are you still studying in this subject area/field?  Be nice to "you in the future" and keep a good research file, to make sure you don't have to find the same information all over again.

Credo Search

Resources within this database include:

  • Encyclopaedias
  • Dictionaries
  • Biographies
  • Quotations
  • Bilingual Dictionaries.

Getting started - Journal articles

Photo of hiking track signThere are some really good databases available for finding information, it is best to consult your subject libguide to find the best ones. There are also some pretty good generic databases that cover most topics studied at JCU, we would recommend getting started with the following:

    It is a very good idea to go through the online tutorials before you start searching to get an idea of how to navigate around a particular database.

    Photo: walkCN1692.jpg by clarita

    Finders Way

    The InfoSkills Roadtrip has a useful module you can work through. It explains search strategy and includes tutorials for using one search and the web. It will help develop your information and research skills including providing information on how to find resources for your assignments.

    Credo concept map

    critical thinking concept map

    This is a detailed image of a Credo concept map. Click on the map to go to the Credo concept map search screen for critical thinking.  Use this feature to help you identify concepts/keywords for you topic.  Try out some other searches while you are there.

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