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Home: Introduction to Research

Peer reviewed and scholarly literature

Your lecturer will ask you to include scholarly, peer reviewed articles in your assignments.  Authors of scholarly articles are usually subject experts or scholars in their field of study and their credentials are documented in the 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.  Most scholarly journals are published by specialist or academic publishers, or a university press and 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.​

Scholarly articles have the following feautures:

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


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. 

Should I use Wikipedia for assignments?

Academia generally discourages the use of Wikipedia because in the past there have been questions over its accuracy and gender bias. Whilst Wikipedia has improved its quality control, most lecturers still do not like Wikipedia being used as a reference. The library promotes the Britannica Academic as a scholarly alternative to Wikipedia. Find it on the database page.

So where do I start?

Firstly, locate some background information. Start with your unit 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 unit guides , written by the librarians, which provide suggestions for resources on a range of subjects.

The library keeps one copy of prescribed texts in our reserve collection. This means that even though the book or DVD may not be available on the shelf for borrowing or onlne, 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.

Primary sources

Primary sources provide a first-hand account of a topic, from people who had a direct connection with it. Examples include:

  • Official websites and organisational reports of professional associations

  • Case law, legislation, regulations, constitutions

  • Interviews, speeches, diaries, letters, autobiographies, oral histories

  • Newspaper reports, by reporters who witnessed an event or who quote people who did

  • Government documents, statistical data, research reports

  • Photographs, video, or audio that captured an event.

  • A journal article reporting new research or findings

Primary versus secondary sources created by QUT Library.

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 or most trustworthy 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.


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