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Top Research Tips


Beginning your university journey is both exciting and nerve-wracking. There are so many things to do and learn, and how to manage a research assignment is one of them. While university puts more of the responsibility with you than you might be familiar with, there are plenty of support services available that make your life much easier.

Researching is a key component of many university assignments. It can seem a bit difficult and overwhelming when you’re first handed the task, and you might not know where to start. Here are some top research tips to help kick-start your assignment and get you moving towards an ‘A’.

Start with course materials

Course materials are an excellent starting point for research. You shouldn’t expect your textbooks, readings, or lectures notes to give you everything, but they give you a good foundation and point you in the right direction. If you find some information that’s particularly useful to your topic, check the cited references. The source that the author or your lecturer referenced will likely have key information on the immediate topic or task you are researching, and you can go from there.

Check out the library

The library is your new best friend. University libraries are designed to help students. They’re full of books, films, and articles specific to almost every topic, and you’ll find plenty of materials to help you with your task. Librarians and other staff can also aid your research. Most libraries will also host workshops on a range of activities useful for research and writing assignments or just how to best find information in the library. These include conducting searches, navigating the library, and sourcing resources.

Don’t forget about public or state libraries though; they’re another great source of information. The state libraries will often have the best facilities. They offer assistance just like your university but can also have different resources and options.

Get online

The internet can be an invaluable source of information, but with so many websites to choose from, it can become a bit overwhelming. Below are some websites you can look at to start your research.

  • Your university’s library website

The library website doesn’t just help you find books. Most universities have access to a wide range of journal articles and e-books that you normally wouldn’t be able to read. They can also have other types of resources, such as newspapers, videos, or maps, that might suit your topic better than other traditional sources.

Just typing your topic into Google will give you a lot of different websites, but for university assignments, normal websites might not give you the quality of information you need. Google Scholar will lead you to books, articles, and papers written by a host of academics. Make sure you also check the citations on the article and the journal it came from. Usually, a good article is one that comes from a well-recognised journal and has lots of citations.

ProQuest and JSTOR give you access to journal articles, online books, and databases. Although only subscribed members can access all the information, most universities have access to these databases and can help you access the information you need for your research.

The SSRN is a database that houses the newest journal articles. Textbooks and other published works can take years to make, and the information can sometimes be outdated. While it primarily focuses on social sciences, the database is expanding to other areas.