You will be able to locate most of the resources that you need for your university assignments by searching in the Curtin Library catalogue or one of our databases; however, some resource types may require a more targeted approach. This page provides you with some tips on the best places to look for different types of information, as well as strategies that will improve your searching success.
Use the menu below to select the kinds of resources you’re trying to find (or learn more about).
“Standards are voluntary documents that set out specifications, procedures and guidelines that aim to ensure products, services, and systems are safe, consistent and reliable. They cover a variety of subjects, including consumer products and services, the environment, construction, energy and water utilities, and more” (Standards Australia).
Standards aim to provide best practice approaches in a range of different fields, from food safety to farming, to medicine, prioritising safety and quality. They are often referenced in government legislation and provide guidelines on how to approach different tasks.
Watch What ISO standards do for you (International Standards Organization) for more information on standards.
The Library provides access to standards via the databases listed below.
Provides full-text access to Australian standards.
Note: there are six simultaneous users for this database. Please logout after use so other users are able to access. For troubleshooting advice, see the important information below under Troubleshooting.
Provides access to American Society of Testing and Materials standards.
Select Standards from the Browse drop-down list to view a list of standards available from IEEE.
The National Construction Code, Building Code of Australia and Plumbing Code of Australia are now freely available.
This database provides access to standards purchased on behalf of Curtin researchers. Staff and HDR students may request other standards (for example ISO, IEC) using the document delivery service.
Techstreet have restrictions on how their content can be used to ensure all users comply with Digital Rights Management (DRM), and do not breach the license agreement or copyright legislation.
To download and open DRM protected standards, the FileOpen plugin will need to be installed and the document accessed via a PDF reader such as Adobe Reader. Similarly for mobile devices, DRM protected PDFs are accessed by using a supported PDF reader or app.
Techstreet have an embedded reader which allows you to view the standards online without the need to download plugins or special software. The FileOpen plugin is only required if you wish to download a standard.
See the Techstreet help pages for more information on DRM, FileOpen and PDF viewers.
The Library currently has six licenses to access standards. If they are all in use, you will need to download the standard at another time. Ensure that you always log out of the database as soon as you are finished so that others can access the information they need.
There can be problems with downloading standards in the Google Chrome browser as it no longer supports Adobe Acrobat. If you find that the standard does not load or is blank, see the Techstreet help pages for instructions on fixing this.
A case study is a research approach that investigates a topic or issue by focusing on a representative person, group of people, or other sample. Observations and conclusions gained through these focused investigations are then (tentatively) applied to larger populations.
Case studies are often used in the social and health sciences, but may also be employed in other subject areas. A good case study avoids overgeneralisations, is forthcoming about its limitations (such as small population sizes), and examines a wide range of factors that could explain a particular outcome.
A case study allows researchers to investigate large and complex problems in a manageable way. It is not always possible to look at an entire population but identifying a representative sample allows researchers to draw conclusions that may apply beyond the sample size.
Case studies will often:
CINAHL is a good database to search if you are looking for case studies in the field of nursing and allied health. You can limit your search to case studies by selecting Case Study under Publication Type.
Business Source Ultimate is a useful source of case studies in the business field. You can limit your search by selecting Case Study as a Document Type or Publication Type.
Emerald covers a wide-range of subject areas, including management, information science, engineering, education, health and social care. You can limit your search to case studies in Advanced Search by selecting Case studies in the Content type field.
ProQuest is a multidisciplinary database covering a wide range of subject areas. You can limit your search to case studies by selecting Case Study in the Document type field.
A conference paper is the text of a paper or presentation given at a conference. Papers from a particular conference are often compiled together as a conference proceeding.
Conference papers and proceedings are published in a variety of ways, which can make them tricky to find. They may be published as a book, a journal article, a special issue or supplement of a journal, or as part of a series. Sometimes the organisation that holds the conference may only publish abstracts from the conference, and not the entire papers. Authors may also publish their conference papers on their own website or on an institutional website. On other occasions conference papers may not be published at all!
Conference papers present the latest research and advancements. Therefore, conference papers and proceedings can be a great source of current research and leading information in a field.
A search in the library catalogue or databases may find conference papers or proceedings published in journals, journal supplements, books or series. Be aware that published proceedings may not include ALL of the papers presented at the conference, especially if some papers are not peer-reviewed.
To find conference material in the library catalogue limit your search results to Conference Proceedings or Conference Papers under Resource Type.
Many library databases index published conference papers and proceedings. Some key multidisciplinary databases that index conference papers/proceedings are listed below:
Scopus is a large abstract and citation databases of peer-reviewed literature, including conference proceedings. It covers science, technology, medicine, social sciences, arts and humanities.
Web of Science indexes core journal articles, conference proceedings, data sets, and other resources in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities.
ProQuest is a large multidisciplinary database that indexes a diverse range of content including conference papers. Limit to Conference, Conference Paper or Conference Proceeding under Document type options.
Many conference proceedings are not indexed in the Library catalogue or databases, but may be freely available, and can be found through a search on Google Scholar.
Unpublished conference papers or proceedings are more difficult to track down. Often the title, author and abstract will be listed in a ‘Book of abstracts’ included as a supplement of a journal issue, but these don’t point you to the full text.
Unpublished papers from a conference may be made freely available on the website of the host organisation, or distributed to attendees only. Some authors make their work available on their own website or via their institution’s repository, or you may need to contact the author to request a copy of their paper.
Data is the raw information and the direct result of research that was conducted as part of a study, experiment or survey. It is typically raw data that needs to be manipulated using software.
Datasets are groupings of data collected and arranged in a set or structured manner. The records in a dataset can be organised in various ways, depending on how you wish to access the information. When a dataset has been created by another researcher or research group, it is classed as secondary data.
The Open Data movement predicts a huge potential for using a nation’s extensive datasets for research purposes, namely to stimulate research, innovation and industry.
There are benefits associated with using datasets:
Finding data for your research can be time consuming and may involve searching major sources of published research data such as: government websites, data directories, subject-based repositories, institutional repositories, research centre websites or Internet search engines e.g. Google or Google Scholar.
Once you have selected a dataset you wish to use, consider the following before you start using it:
More information on assessing datasets can be found on the ANDS Data Reuse website.
Research data which is intended for sharing and re-use should have an assigned license. When you use datasets that have been licensed, ensure you use it in a the way that is permitted by the license.
If the data has not been licensed, contact the data owner (rights holder) to obtain permission to re-use the data.
Drug resources provide information on the identification and prescription of drugs, including information on dosage, side effects, drug interactions, ingredients and more.
You may be required to access and use up-to-date drug information for your assignments and research in the health sciences. These resources will help you find accurate information about drugs, their interactions and adverse effects.
The library provides access to a range of drug databases and resources to assist you in finding accurate, evidence-based information.
Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH)
AMH provides a concise, up-to-date source of independent drug information to facilitate effective, rational, safe and economical prescribing and dispensing.
AMH Children’s Dosing Companion
The Children’s Dosing Companion provides information for prescribing and administering medicines to children from birth to 18 years.
MIMS Online contains both abbreviated and full prescribing information, consumer medicine information and product images for pharmaceuticals available in Australia.
Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference
Martindale is a comprehensive reference resource on drugs and medicines used throughout the world. Coverage includes: drug monographs, propriety preparations, manufacturers and disease treatment reviews.
Therapeutic Guidelines (eTG Complete)
Therapeutic Guidelines contain searchable peer-reviewed clinical guidelines covering a broad range of topics. It also contains drug information and dosing regimens for a range of diseases.
Pharmacopoeias provide standards for pharmaceutical substances and medicinal products used in a country. These legally binding standards are important in regulating the quality of medicines.
Provides access to world-leading drug and healthcare references on the administration and use of drugs, including drug interactions, guidance on dosage and adverse drug reactions.
Complementary and Integrative Medicine
Complementary and integrative medicine should be considered alongside drug interventions in terms of their efficacy, but also their interactions and toxicities.
An ebook (short for electronic book) is simply a book which can be accessed online.
Ebooks, like print books, are a great source for an introduction to a particular topic. As they tend to be longer, books go into greater detail than other resource types and will often introduce and explain established theories, providing notable examples of research conducted in a particular field.
The easiest way to locate ebooks is by searching the Library Catalogue.
Once you have found a suitable ebook, select Available Online in the item record. This will provide the link to the database where you can read (and sometimes download) the ebook.
Ebooks work differently to physical books. They do not need to be borrowed by using your library card. When downloaded, they are not recorded as a loan on your library record, and they do not need to be returned (as this will happen automatically).
However, many ebooks are protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM), which affects how you can use them.
All ebooks can be read online. As long as a copy of the book is available, you can read the item online for as long as you require. Your session needs to remain active. If you stop interacting with the book, your session will time out and you may need to reopen the item via the library catalogue.
Some ebooks will give you an option to download so the book can be viewed while you are not connected to the internet.
Often you will have to download an app, like Adobe Digital Editions. Follow the prompts for the database you are in to download the necessary software.
Once downloaded, you will usually have between 1 - 14 days of offline access to the book. Once the download period has ended, the ebook expires and can no longer be opened. You will need to download it again if still required.
It is possible to print or download chapters of some ebooks, however DRM will determine how much printing or downloading is permitted. Most of the time, you will be allowed to print, save, or download one chapter of an ebook (in line with the fair dealing provisions of the Australian Copyright Act 1968) so choose carefully.
Some ebook platforms will allow you to highlight or make notes while you’re reading the book online. Changes you make will then be saved so that the next time you access the book, they will be visible (you may be prompted to create an account or login).
DRM determines the number of people who can access an ebook at any given time, depending on the number of licenses available. As when a physical item is checked out of the library, some ebooks cannot be opened if another person is looking at them.
We know which of our ebooks are likely to be in high demand and have disabled the option to download them. If you are trying to access an ebook which can’t be opened, or will only allow you five minutes for reading, try again later (and avoid peak times like the middle of the day).
Grey literature refers to both published and unpublished research, produced by government, academia, business and industry, that is not controlled by commercial publishers. Some examples of grey literature include:
Grey literature is an important source of information as:
Searching for grey literature is not always easy and can be time consuming. Simple searches are often more fruitful than the rigorous strategies used for database searching. Try searching on your core concepts rather than using long strings of search terms.
If using a search engine such as Google and Google Scholar, use the Advanced Search option. This will allow you to limit your search by date (e.g. last 5/10 years), language (e.g. English), region (e.g. Australia) etc. thus avoiding the retrieval of large numbers of results.
When you perform a Google search you can also limit to particular domains or by file type:
Websites of relevant organisations
Search or browse the websites of key organisations in your research area. These may include: government agencies, academic or research institutes, private companies, professional associations, and advocacy groups. Depending on the focus of your topic, the following sources may be useful:
As well as journal articles, many library databases also index other types of literature including conference papers, reports, theses and government documents.
Most library databases provide the facility to limit by publication or document type, which will allow you to narrow your search to grey literature sources.
Grey literature databases, library catalogues and repositories
In its broadest sense, an image is a visual representation or likeness of a person or thing. Images can include paintings, photos, drawings, cartoons and illustrations, diagrams, graphs, computer graphics and plans.
An original image is considered an artistic work and is protected by copyright legislation.
Images can enhance your assignments by providing visual aids for your research or decorative images for your presentations.
It is important to consider copyright obligations when reusing an image. Don’t assume that a freely accessible image is also freely available to use without permission. A blog post from Creative Commons Australia illustrates the importance of permission checking before reusing images found on the web.
Many images can be freely downloaded under certain terms and conditions, while websites such as Associated Press, iStock by Getty Images, and Shutterstock require payment for a license to reuse content.
One of the easiest ways to successfully navigate your copyright obligations is to select Open License, Creative Commons (CC) or public domain images.
An Open License is one that grants permission to access, reuse and redistribute work with few or no restrictions. Creative Commons is the most well-known open license system.
A Creative Commons license doesn’t replace copyright. CC material is still protected by copyright, but the copyright owners have provided upfront permission for others to reuse their content in particular ways. You don’t have to seek permission from the copyright holder as long as you abide by the conditions set out in the CC license. You can find out more about the various CC licenses through the Creative Commons website.
Public domain images can refer to material in which copyright has expired and can be used without restriction; or where the copyright owner gives very broad permissions to people to use the content freely.
The following websites provide easily accessible advance search filters to quickly identify Creative Commons or public domain images:
If your work will be publicly available, to abide by the terms of a Creative Commons license, you may also be required to provide an attribution statement.
To properly attribute content offered under a Creative Commons license:
For more information about creating a Creative Commons attribution statement, see the links below:
Referencing for Curtin University assignments
When reproducing images, you will need to ensure that you are referencing in accordance with the appropriate referencing style for your unit. Please refer to our referencing tables and figures guides for information:
Materials used in legal research are often divided into two broad categories:
Primary legal sources are created by parliament (government), the courts, and other official bodies and include legislation and case law.
Secondary legal sources are based on primary legal sources, helping to explain, analyse, and interpret the law. These include journal articles, books, legal dictionaries, commentaries, and newspapers. Secondary legal materials can be helpful in the identification of relevant primary sources.
Legal materials are fundamental to the practice of law; however the need to locate legal materials is not constrained to those studying or working in that particular field. The law impacts every facet of our society, governing what individuals and organisations can and cannot do. For that reason, it may be necessary to locate legal materials across a number of topics or subject areas.
Legislation consists of the laws made by parliament. There are two main types of legislation: Acts (also called Statutes or Acts of Parliament) and subsidiary legislation (also known as subordinate or delegated legislation) which includes regulations, rules, orders, statutory instruments and by-laws.
Australian legislation can be found on government websites:
Cases (also referred to as court decisions, judicial decisions or judgments) are written records of the legal decision-making applied to an individual dispute. Under the common law system (as opposed to statute law or legislation), courts can clarify or change the law, setting a precedent which is then applied to later cases.
Before searching for a case, it is helpful to understand the elements of the case citation:
Commonwealth v Tasmania (1983) 158 CLR 1
To locate a particular case:
The following are a selection of databases which include legal materials. For more legal databases, see the Databases A-Z.
Newspapers and other media sources keep us informed, discussing current or recent information of either general interest (for example daily newspapers like The Australian or the New York Times), or a specific subject focus (e.g. political or trade news like the Foreign Policy or the Australian Financial Review).
Media sources include newspapers, magazines, TV current affairs programs, online news organisations and news blogs.
News and other media sources provide up-to-date reporting on events as they are occurring, while journal articles and books may take months or years to move through the publication process. Media sources are great for images, quotations, opinions, and other primary source material. They can:
News and other media sources reflect matters that are of interest to the population they serve, whether that be the general public or a more specific audience.
Searching for news and media sources may require a different approach than searching for journal articles or other academic content. As news and media sources are usually aimed at a general audience, you will need to consider the audience.
It is also best to avoid using technical language and discipline-specific jargon in your search to increase your chance of success.
Consider the difference between the language used in the newspaper article headline and the journal article title below:
Journal article title:
You can often find news and media reports by searching Google. However, you may not be able to access the full content without paying for a subscription. If this happens, try searching in the databases listed below.
Factiva has a large collection of Australian and international newspapers.
ProQuest provides access to over 2,000 newspapers including 300 Australian newspapers and 63 related specifically to business and economics.
Provides access to archived digital editions of the West Australian newspaper from 2004 onwards. It is updated daily with each edition available the day after publication.
An archive of Australian television news, current affairs and selected documentaries from the free-to-air networks. The content is mostly video, however detailed synopses are also provided for each entry.
A patent is a legal right granted to a person or organisation to commercially exploit a new invention (device, substance, method or process). The patent excludes others from selling or using the invention for a set period of time (the life of the patent).
A patent includes a description of the nature of the invention, and is often the first place that information on a new area of research is made public. As patents must disclose (in some detail) the nature of the invention, details disclosed in an existing patent may save you from undertaking unnecessary research.
In most countries patents are issued by a single authority, and are available on the official website. Some useful search tools for finding patents include:
IP Australia administers Intellectual Property issues in Australia, and using their website, you can search for patents, trademarks and designs.
Allows free searching for USA granted patents. It contains the full text and drawings of USA patents since 1976.
Contains patent applications issued by both the European Patent Office (EPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
Provides access to international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications in full text format on the day of publication, as well as to patent documents of participating national and regional patent offices. This database is also hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
A not-for-profit organisation that provides universal access to patent information, including biological sequences. It also includes some analytics such as patents which cite a journal publication.
Includes over 120 million patent publications from 100+ patent offices around the world.
A primary source provides a first hand account of a topic. Primary sources report on events or discoveries, or share new information. They are original materials which have not been filtered or changed through interpretation, condensation or evaluation by a second party. In contrast, secondary sources are not original sources of information; instead they describe, analyse, summarise or discuss the information from primary sources.
Plays, photographs, news reports, diaries, surveys and social media content are just some examples of primary sources.
Journal articles can be primary or secondary sources. Original research articles that provide a detailed account of research activity, written by the scientists who conducted the research, are primary sources.
Primary sources are valuable for a number of reasons. They:
Many primary sources can be found in the Curtin Library Catalogue, including newspaper articles, images, government documents, and research datasets. You can use the options under ‘Resource Type’ (found on the right-hand side of the screen) to limit your search to specific types of primary source material.
This site provides links to the resources of Australian Archives as well as to most other major archives in Australia.
Trove is the National Library’s ‘discovery service’ for information, resources and people. You can search for pictures and photos, digitised newspapers, diaries, letters, music, sound and video.
Search Google to discover blogs, social media content, statistics, court records, historical documents, autobiographies and more.
“A report is a specific form of writing that is organised around concisely identifying and examining issues, events, or findings” (Massey University, 2012). It usually covers the who, what, where, when, why and how of a particular situation, issue, or problem, and may be produced by government departments, research groups, not-for-profit organisations, companies, and others.
You will need to exercise some caution when accessing certain types of reports. Company reports and reports produced by charity organisations, for example, are produced largely for marketing purposes. It is possible that positive information will be highlighted, while more negative material is glossed over or omitted altogether.
Reports will generally be available for free on the Internet, and simple strategies are often more fruitful than the rigorous strategies used for database searching.
Websites of relevant organisations
Search or browse the websites of key organisations in your research area. Looking out for links to ‘publications’, ‘reports’, or ‘collections’ can help. Remember, reports are produced by companies, government departments, professional associations, not-for-profit or charitable organisations, academic or research institutes and may more. Depending on the focus of your topic, the following sources may be useful:
Online search engines
Search engines such as Google are useful when searching for reports. Most reports will be published online in PDF form, so it’s helpful to limit your results by file type:
Google searches will often return large numbers of results so consider limiting your search by date (e.g. last 5/10 years) etc. in Advanced Search.
Statistics is the practice that deals with the collection, organisation, analysis and interpretation of numerical data. General conclusions about a set of data are then able to be drawn from a sample of the data.
Statistics enable us to use a limited sample to make accurate conclusions about a greater population. Statistics provide important information that informs research and decision making in our society. The data used to draw these conclusions is usually presented in the form of tables, graphs or charts. As part of your studies you may need to find, access and use statistical data to lend credibility to your research and support your ideas or position.
When searching for statistics, bear in mind that you may not always be able to find the exact data you are looking for as:
Be sure to consider other alternative measures to support your research.
Statistical data is not always easy to locate as as there is no one single source for this type of information. Most statistics are published by national or state government agencies. However they can also be found in scholarly journals, reports, websites, books, databases, magazines and newspapers.
Websites of relevant organisations
The following websites provide statistical data for Australia and other countries around the world.
The ABS is responsible for statistical collection and analysis for Australia’s federal, state and territory governments. It provides key economic and financial data for the Australian economy.
The AIHW produces authoritative and accessible information and statistics to inform and support policy and service delivery decisions for all Australians.
The Census provides data on the age and sex structure of the population, birthplace, religion, educational attainment, marital status, family type, income distribution, the labour force, type and size of dwellings, price/rental of dwellings and nature of occupancy.
As Australia’s central bank, the RBA provides economic and financial data produced by the Reserve Bank and other organisations.
WorkSafe provides statistical reports including claims and workplace fatalities since 2009.
Provides global statistical coverage on economics, trade, industry, finance, employment and health.
The United Nations portal to statistical databases. It compiles and disseminate global statistical information.
You must proceed with caution when using the information you find online. Find some tips for quality-checking the information you would like to include in your assignments in our Reading and Evaluating guide.