A student walks amongst the stacks in the library

Starting your research

One of the purposes of assignments is to show that you can increase your knowledge through independent reading and research. To identify and seek out information you will need to:

  • Be clear on what you are looking for

– Make sure you understand your essay question, or task, and what you need to investigate.

– Note down key words from your essay question or task and relevant lecture notes to use in your search for information.

  • To find the information you need

– Always start with reading lists provided by your course; these can then lead you onto other texts.

– Examine core textbooks, scanning contents pages, index pages, introductions and sub-headings for key words indicating sections of text relevant to your assignment or task.

– Look through the bibliographies (of your textbooks) for other relevant book titles.

– Undertake a key word search of library databases or the internet. Visit the library webpages to find out how to use the university library services and facilities You might also try searching for academic information on Google Scholar.

  • Consider the most authoritative voices in your subject

– Identify and use well-respected sources in your work e.g. industry experts or organisations, professional journals, recommended textbooks.

– You will need to justify your choice of reading material.

  • Always take notes and keep a record of the sources of your notes

Having located, bookmarked and borrowed (from the library) a range of useful sources, you are now ready to extract the information you need in a process of effective reading and note-taking.

For guidance on all the topics mentioned above – including Understanding the question, Effective reading and Note-taking – the Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS) provides 1-1 appointments, workshops and study guides.