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Guide to Finding Resources: Introduction to Research

Scholarly Literature

What is Scholarly Literature?

Academics and other experts in a field of knowledge publish their research results in scholarly journals, or they may present their research results at conferences, with a paper subsequently being published in the conference proceedings. These publications are referred to as scholarly literature.

What is a scholarly Article?

Your lecturer will ask you to include scholarly articles in college assignments. This means you will need to locate specific articles on your topic. 

Authors of scholarly articles are usually subject experts or scholars in their field of study and their credentials are documented in the actual article. A scholarly article is reviewed by the author's peers  before the article is published.This means that the validity of the research is guaranteed. The sources of information consulted in the writing of the scholarly article are cited throughout the work and are documented fully in the reference list at the end of the paper. Most scholarly journals are published by specialist or academic publishers, or a university press.

How do I know  my article is scholarly?

Abstract ( or summary)  
Hypothesis (or research argument)
Introduction (or overview of the problem)
Literature review
Discussion (or analysis)
Supporting diagrams, tables, etc.
Reference List
The author's credentials will also be documented


To Google or not to Google?

Many people use Google to search for information on the web. If we can use it to find a new house, a new car or a great restaurant, can we use it to find information for a college assignment?

Well yes and no.

While searching Google will certainly find a lot of information on any topic you search for, it may not necessarily find the best information. You can learn more about deciding what information to use under Evaluation of Resources. However in the mean time let's look at how you can use Google to your advantage.

Instead of just searching Google, go to Google Scholar. This will limit your results to academic works. However you will find that when you try to open the articles in the results, you may be asked to pay for them. You can set your computer to alert you to those results that are available in the ACPE library. That way you can access them for free!

How to link Google Scholar to ACPE Library:

Simply go to Google Scholar. Click settings and then Library Links and search for ACPE Library. Now when you search, any articles that are held in the ACPE Library will show up with Findit@ACPE. Click this link and you will be taken directly to the result in the ACPE library website.

Formatting - the basics

Begin with the basics for your assignment writing:

Font and size - Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman, 12 point.
Margins and spacing - 2 cm (min) margin all around, 1.5 cm (min) line spacing. 
Indenting - For direct quotes over 40 words. 

Find more details in the ACPE styling and referencing guidelines and be guided by SLS.

Quick tips and shortcuts for database searching

Before you can begin your assignment it is important to know what the assignment is asking you to do. Look at your assignment question and work out the keywords that are used, e.g. The use of blogs, facebook and my space in the social network environment.

"social media" AND blogs

Think of other words that are similiar within your research area. By using OR, articles containing facebook OR "my space" will be retrieved  

facebook OR  "my space" 

Use the keywords when searching for information for your assignment.

If a word can have more than one ending, use the * (asterix), e.g. social network* will also retrieve social networking and social networks.

You can also exclude keywords from your search

"social media" NOT wikis will retrieve articles on social media without wikis

Adding quotation marks "  " around keywords eg "social media" ensures the words are not split apart but searched together as a phrase

Always tick full -text and peer reviewed so you retrieve the entire article and scholarly articles.



Use a thesaurus to find Synonyms (similar words) for the terms in your assignment. Try an online thesaurus or start your search and look over the terms you see in the search results. 

2. Where do I start?

Firstly, locate some background information. Start with your subject outline, as it will identify exactly what you need to submit. It will also contain a reading list which is a great place to begin looking for information. 

Your lecture and tutorial notes will cover the topic of your assignment. It is important to attend all lectures and tutorials and keep all notes in order. Your lecturer or tutor may give guidelines. Tip: other people's questions may also help you!

Take a look at the Subject Research Guides, written by the librarians, which provide suggestions for resources on a range of subjects.

The library keeps one copy of set texts in our reserve collection. This means that even though the book or DVD may not be available on the shelf for borrowing there will be a copy you can use in the library. You will also be able to scan or photocopy one chapter or 10% of the book to take home.

The library's collection contains dictionaries, encyclopaedias, handbooks and government reports. These are a great place to start if you need to find definitions or a brief summary of your topic.

The library holds many text and information books that will give background information on the topics covered by the courses at ACPE. They are organised in subjects. If you need help finding something on your particular topic please ask one of the library staff to help.

3. Refine my topic

Once you have gathered some background information on your assignment topic, it is a good idea to go back to the assignment question in the subject outline and look at the marking criteria. Perhaps consider the following questions;

1. What specific aspects of the topic am I most interested in?

2. How much information appears to be available on a specific aspect of the topic?

3. Can I limit my topic by specific population, gender, age, date, environment, etc.?

Remember, if you are considering modifying how you are going to answer the assignment question, talk to your lecturer.

4. Locating my research materials

Depending on the types of information sources and the amount of information you need, you may use a variety of methods for locating good quality materials to complete your assignment.

  • Use Library search -  Books/DVDs to find books, ebooks, dvds, and kits, use Library search - Articles to find peer-reviewed journal articles, evideos and images. More information on how to use Library search is covered in Library Basics.
  • To locate a journal article from your subject outline or a citation, do a Library search - Articles using the author and title. You can also search in EDS, using the Publication menu to see if the library has access to a particular journal.
  • Search the electronic databases to find a large number of high quality, peer-reviewed journal articles or go to the to the subject guide for your area of study for a list of the most suitable databases to use.
  • Look up the items on your reading list using Library search - Books/DVDs by searching on the unit code, e.g. DAN1201.
  • When searching the web, it is important to check that the site you are looking at is of a high enough standard to use for a college assignment. More information on evaluating a website can be found on the Evaluation of Resources tab of this guide.