Searching for specific resources

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.

Searching the Library catalogue

The library catalogue is a good place to start your search. It includes a variety of resources (such as journal articles, books and reports). Use the keywords identified in the creation of your search strategy to begin searching.

Watch the following video for an introduction to searching in the catalogue.

Search tip! For your assignment you need to find recent resources, published in the last 10 years. Once you have performed your search in the library catalogue, you can refine your results using the Creation Date filter in the right menu.

Searching the Library databases

Databases are large, searchable collections of scholarly literature. Databases can cover a range of subject areas (multidisciplinary) or they can concentrate on a specific area (subject specific). They offer more sophisticated search features than the Library Catalogue, which can make it easier to focus your search and find relevant material. A full list of databases is available via the Databases page on the Library website.

We recommend starting with a search in the ProQuest database, using the keywords from your search strategy.

Watch the video below to learn how to search the ProQuest database.

Search tip! If the database you are searching does not provide access to the fulltext of the article, use the red Find it button to see if the fulltext is available in another database.

You may also find the following databases useful for searching on your topic:

CINAHL is a database of nursing and allied health literature.

Provides access to peer-reviewed journal articles and other resources in a range of subject areas with a focus on Australian content.

Searching for government reports on the web

Government departments mainly publish their reports online. It is best to check out the government department or agency website to search for reports.

The following websites are useful sources for reports:

Tips for searching for reports

Search engines such as Google are useful when searching for reports. You can limit your Google search to look for information from specific types of website (e.g. government websites) or specific filetypes (e.g. PDFs):

  • health funding will search Australian government websites for health funding information
  • health funding filetype:pdf will search Australian government websites for PDFs on health funding

Note: Google searches will often return large numbers of results, so consider using the Advanced Search option and limiting your search by date (e.g. last 5/10 years).

Searching for statistics

For your assignment, you may be required to find and report on relevant statistics related to the health funding system or health issue of Australia and/or another country.

Statistical data is not always easy to locate 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 and databases.

The following sites are useful sources of statistics:

Australian statistics

International statistics

Tips for searching for statistics

  • When you are searching for statistics in a database, try adding the term statistics to your search.

Example: heart disease AND Germany AND statistics

  • You can also try searching using other keywords related to statistics such as incidence, prevalence or epidemiology.

Example: heart disease AND incidence OR prevalence OR epidemiology AND Germany

  • If you are having trouble finding statistics for a particular country, try searching for the broader region.

Example: heart disease AND statistics AND Europe

  • It may be difficult to find accurate statistics for some developing countries. International agencies such as the World Health Organisation or United Nations may offer statistics for these countries based on their research or projections.

Evaluating sources and lateral reading

It is important that you evaluate the information you discover on the internet to ensure the source you are using is credible. A key consideration when deciding whether to include a source in your assignment is whether the author and the information is credible. As you critically read a text, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who? Perform an assessment of the author or organisation responsible for the information. Are they suitably qualified to be writing on the topic? Is there evidence of any bias or a conflict of interest?

  • Why? Why was the content created? Is its purpose to inform, persuade, entertain or sell a product? Only giving one side of the story or using emotive or incendiary language could suggest a goal to persuade or manipulate a reader.

  • When? For some research areas, the timeliness of the information will be important and many assignment briefs will note a timeframe of publication that is acceptable. You need to know when the information was published or updated.

When you are evaluating a source you may need to validate the author’s claims and conclusions by looking for confirmation or support elsewhere on the Internet, a technique known as lateral reading. Watch the video below to learn more about using lateral reading to evaluate information.