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Resources For Researchers

Tools, links and information for academic staff and higher degree researchers.

Finding good information takes thought and planning

As a researcher you will be looking beyond books and journals for information.
This page gives principles of searching which can be adapted and applied to most information sources. 

Start with a goal which will at least include:

  • a clearly defined topic - can you explain your topic in 3 sentences?  
  • quality - government reports, peer-reviewed research, evidence-based articles, personal anecdotes, interviews
  • format - websites, scholarly databases, newspaper indexes, raw data
  • relevance - information specifically about your topic ; which contextualises your topic; which is related to your topic

Search databases

 Databases offer various options to refine and structure your search. Use the limit to search Abstract for the most relevant articles.


When you search databases or the internet you are searching for WORDS not ideas.

Recreate your hypothesis into a series of keywords.

Databases, including internet search engines like Google, operate with protocols.

"  " - parentheses are used for a phrase

"sunshine coast"
"random breath testing"
"george bush"

AND - for a more specific search join multiple terms with AND

roads AND wildlife AND "sunshine coast"

OR  - broadens your search when:

  • your topic has alternative terms -  "elementary school" OR "primary school"
  • there are different spellings - foetus OR fetus
  • the plurals may be different words -  cow OR cattle ...OR bovine
  • you have options to cover - Queensland OR Victoria OR Tasmania

NOT excludes results, but should be used with care, best after an initial search has identified a group of irrelevant results

lions NOT football

NEAR, WITHIN, W/N Some databases give other options, such as NEAR or within.

NEAR finds a term close to another, while WITHIN specifies how close:

roads within 5 wildlife will find

"making roads safe for wildlife", "wildlife safety on roads", "safer roads for wildlife crossing"

NEAR or WITHIN searches are more flexible than phrase searches and return more relevant results than AND searches


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