For your assignments, you will often need to find different types of information. Where you search for this depends on the type of information you are looking for.

In brief, you can find different types of information by using various search tools:

  • Library catalogue: a great place to begin your search for academic sources as you can search by title or keywords
  • Databases: perform targeted searches using advanced search functionalities
  • Google: search for specific types of information on credible websites and in different formats.

Library catalogue

The Library catalogue is a search engine that allows you to find resources in the Library’s collection. It includes records for print material (all the books and other items available in the Library building) and links to the online content housed in the Library’s databases. Like any search engine, you can perform a very specific search in the Library catalogue (e.g. search for the title of your textbook) or search more broadly using keywords.

Watch this short video about searching in the Library catalogue.

Library databases

Databases are online collections of resources, providing a search platform to find and access ebooks, journal articles, newspaper articles, theses, videos and more. They have powerful search functionalities and refining options that enable you to create targeted searches.

Watch this short video about searching the ProQuest database to learn more about performing an effective search using alternative keywords, ANDs/ORs, truncation and phrase searching.


Searching the Internet through Google or another search engine can be a useful step in the search process. You can use it to:

  • discover background information on your topic
  • find keywords for your search
  • locate materials that are not often included in academic databases, such as reports and other publicly available materials.

It is important that you evaluate any information you find for bias, accuracy and credibility before you include it in your assignment.

Tips for effective Google searching

You can use AND and OR, phrase searching and truncation in Google and other search engines. In addition, there are further ways to improve your search performance.

When you perform a Google search, you search the entire freely available Internet. This is not an effective way to search if you are looking for certain kinds of information.

You can enter your keywords followed by site: followed by the type of website you wish to search within to focus your search results.

For example, if you are looking for government information about the prevalence of measles in Australia, a search for prevalence measles Australia returns results from newspapers, organisations, and blogs. Searching for prevalence measles will only find information from Australian government websites.

Types of websites:

  • .edu signifies that the page is created by an educational institution
  • .gov signifies that the page is created by a government department or body
  • .org, .com or .co signifies a site created for marketing reasons. These include news sites and the websites of organisations (though you should note that there are no specific requirements for creating a .org web address, and it should not be interpreted as a sign of quality)
  • Country codes allow you to search sites that have been published within a geographical area

A risk of using information from the Internet in your assignments is that much of it can change at any moment. Resources like reports are much less likely to change, and they tend to be made available in PDF format.

You can enter your keywords followed by filetype: and the specific file types you are interested in locating.

If you are interested in researching the jobs of the future, much of the information you locate when searching for jobs of the future comes from sites that are trying to sell you something. Searching for jobs of the future filetype:pdf returns reports and other documents that are more likely to be credible.