Every unit you are enrolled in will have a list of references, texts and/or readings.
These can be found at the end of your unit outline, within weekly activities, in LEO and/or on a separate reading list.
Types of texts and references
The information listed about each resource is called a reference or citation.
Knowing the difference between reference types makes it easier to find them using Library search.
Books and ebooks
Book references include the book title, place of publication and publisher:
Carlson, B. (2016). The politics of identity. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.
An ebook reference contains a doi (digital object identifier) or URL instead of publication details. An example of referencing an ebook in APA style can be found in the Library’s referencing guide.
A book chapter reference includes additional details including chapter author, book editor and chapter title:
Wicks, T. S. (2016). Ethical contexts. In J. Abrak & D. S. Jones (Eds.), Society, science and spirit (pp. 112-145). Frenchs Forest, Australia: Dunder Mifflin.
Journal article references contain volume, issue and page numbers as well as an article title, journal title and doi or URL:
Bahr, S. J., Siclovan, D. M., Opper, K., Beiler, J., Bobay, K. L., & Weiss, M. E. (2017). Interprofessional health team communication about hospital discharge. An implementation science evaluation study. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 32, 285-292. doi:10.1097/NCQ.0000000000000238
Steps to researching your assignment
- Analyse your topic
- Do background reading
- Plan your search
- Evaluate the information you find
- Referencing and citation at ACU
- Academic integrity
Analyse your topic
1. Look in detail at the assessment task & the marking criteria. Ask yourself:
- Who is the audience?
- What needs to be covered?
- When is it due?
- Why has this assessment been set?
- What learning outcomes does it cover?
- How are marks allocated?
- Where is the relevant information found?
2. Analyse the terms/words used in the assessment task
- What are you being asked to do? Circle the task words. For example, discuss or argue
- What are the main concepts, key words or subjects?
- Are there any limits to the topic or question? For example, date or type of resource
Do some background reading around your topic. This will increase your understanding of the area and help you to find alternative key words and assist in evaluating resources you find.
Good sources for background reading include:
- lecture slides and recordings
- your textbook/s
- texts and references in the unit outline
- reference sources such as encyclopaedias and dictionaries
Databases are electronic collections of resources such as journal articles, images and videos which are not freely available online. They can be general or discipline specific.
Truncation allows you to search for all variants of a word.
|Truncated word||What the database will search for|
|ethic*||ethic, ethics, ethically|
|Australia*||Australia, Australian, Australians, Australia’s|
Wildcard symbols enable you to substitute a symbol for one letter of a word. They are particularly useful for words with multiple spellings, and differences in British and American spelling. The wildcard symbol is typically a question mark (?).
|Truncated word||What the database will search for|
Quotation marks (" ") will search for exact phrases, e.g. "emotional intelligence"
Connect search terms (Boolean)
You may need to use connecting words (AND, OR) between your search terms in some databases.
AND will search for both words in a record
e.g. "employee engagement" AND trust
OR will search for either term in a record. Use for synonyms.
e.g. reward* OR incentive*
You can make some educated guesses about the reliability of a website if you know a little about their URL and domain names.
|.com (commercial)||Used for commercial purposes. Can be registered by anyone and can serve any purpose.|
|.org (organisation)||Intended for use by charities and non-profit organisations. Used by schools, communities, open-source projects and for-profit entities. Can be registered by anyone.|
|.net (network)||Used by internet service providers, but can also be registered by other including commercial entities.|
|.edu (educational)||Used only by educational or academic institutions|
|.gov (government)||Used only by government entities.|
|.asn (association)||Used by incorporated associations, political parties, trade unions, sporting and special interest clubs.|
|.int (international)||Used by international organisations such as the World Health Organisation. Often registered for treaty-related purposes between nations.|
Use Wikipedia as a starting point for background reading and identifying keywords. As a rule you should not use it as a reference in a university assessment.
Instead of Wikipedia, consider using reference material such as encyclopaedias, dictionaries and handbooks. These resources can be cited in your reference list.
Some examples include:
- Credo Reference provides background information on a large range of disciplines
- Oxford Reference provides access to language and subject reference works from one of the world's biggest reference publishers.
Google Scholar searches academic publishers, professional societies and pre-print archives.
You can connect Google Scholar to ACU Library resources, using the steps below:
- Go to Google Scholar
- Click on the 3 line menu icon (three horizontal lines) in the top left corner
- Click Settings
- Click Library links
- Search for and select Australian Catholic University - FindIt@ACU by ticking the checkbox
- Click Save
Evaluating information using the CAARP Criteria
Now that you’ve located information that is relevant to your research, find out if it is of high quality.
Reputable sources with quality information will enable you to tick MOST of the criteria below:
Currency — timeliness of the information
- When was the information published or posted?
- Has the information been revised or updated?
- Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
- Are the links functional?
Authority — source of the information
- Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
- What are the author's credentials or organisational affiliations?
- Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
- Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
- Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source, ie., .com .edu .gov .org .net?
Accuracy — reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content
- Where does the information come from?
- Is the information supported by evidence?
- Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
- Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
- Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
- Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
Relevance — importance of the information for your needs
- Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too advanced for your needs)?
- Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
- Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?
Purpose — reason the information exists
- What is the purpose of the information?
- Does it seek to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
- Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
- Is the point of view objective and impartial?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?
Page last updated: 2019-06-05
Short url: https://library.acu.edu.au/1570330