Once you've analysed your question and identified the key concepts, you'll need to identify what sources of information to use.

Types of resources

There are a range of resources you can use for your assignments. You must use scholarly sources for academic research in order to support your argument. Without supporting an argument by quoting or paraphrasing experts in a discipline, you are merely writing an opinion piece, rather than writing an academic paper. However, non-scholarly resources can also be used in certain situations. 

See the video below for more on scholarly versus non-scholarly sources.

When identifying content to support your argument, it's important to understand the level of authority of a source. There are two types of sources with varying levels of authority:

Scholarly resources are usually written by academics or researchers who are experts in their area of research. These researchers have authority in their field and produce highly credible work. 
The most common scholarly resource is a journal article. Peer reviewed journal articles go through a process of review by one or more experts in the field of study before they are published. They are the most reliable and authoritative sources of information. Lecturers often require you to use peer reviewed articles as sources for assignments. 
Peer reviewed articles can be found using Library Search by selecting the 'Scholarly & Peer Review' filter.  

Databases often have a Peer Review filter on the search page to limit results to peer reviewed articles. 

Books written by academic experts for an academic audience are considered scholarly. While they do not usually undergo peer review, they are subject to the scrutiny of the editorial process. 

Information from non-academic sources can also be used to support an argument. This can include news articles, government reports, conference proceedings, practice guidelines, company annual reports, and organisations such as the UN or the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. These types of non-scholarly materials are often referred to as "grey literature".

Grey literature is usually not subject to peer review and so must be evaluated to ensure reliable and accurate information.

Different sources are also written for different purposes. It is your responsibility to find out which types of resources to use for your assignment. Refer to your unit guide or ask your tutor for help.


These are good for background information to clarify the meaning of your topic and to check for synonyms for your keywords
Books summarise a topic or research in a coherent manner. They may include textbooks, collections of essays written by individual authors or an extended analysis of a specific topic.
Journal articles report current research within a specific discipline. They are published in journals on a regular basis, and include details such as year of publication, volume, issue and page numbers
Grey literature can provide credible supporting material to your other sources. Grey literature is content that is not formally published, like government and statistical reports, theses, company information and annual reports.

Find high quality resources

The Library provides a number of ways for you to find high quality resources for your assignments.

The unit reading list includes recommended readings and references compiled by the Unit Coordinator, including relevant journal articles, book chapters, books, video recordings, or links to websites. It also includes lists of textbooks for your unit.

Reading lists can be found in My Unit Readings. There should also be a link to My Unit Readings in each LMS unit

Library Search is a single search point on the Library homepage for sourcing books, journal articles, videos and more. 

Enter the search string created in Planning Your Search, or a combination of individual search words for a broad search.  

Using broad search terms in Library Search can return a large number of results. Results can be limited by using the search filters, located on the left on the Results screen.  For example, Peer Review and Date filters can be used to limit results to scholarly and peer reviewed journals, or to items published within certain dates. 

From the Results list, click on the Full Text Online links, or see the shelf locations for printed books and journals. 

More detailed instructions for Using Library Search include how to improve search results, using Quick Search, Advanced Search and other features. 

While Library Search can be used to search for general topics, databases are best for comprehensive searching in specific topics or to source specific types of content, such as case law, legislation, statistics, company information and newspaper articles. 

From the Library's Databases page, select a topic from the Browse databases by subject menu, or  select from the list of databases for specialised resources. The Library subscribes to hundreds of databases covering all subject areas. 

Paste the search string created in Planning Your Search to search for content relevant to the assignment topic. 

When searching for a specific article, book or book chapter, enter the title into Library Search - enclose the title in quotation marks / double inverted commas / speech marks  ("   "). Use the search filters on the left of the results screen to limit the results to articles or books. 

If an article search is unsuccessful, enter the journal title into Library Search, rather than the article title. The link to the journal in the results list will take you to the database holding the journal. When in the database holding the journal, search by article title, or navigate by volume, issue and page numbers, to locate the article within the journal. 

Search by book title, rather than book chapter title, if a chapter title search is not successful. The chapter may already be available from the unit's My Unit Readings

As you find resources, you will need to evaluate them for suitability for your assignment. See the next page for more guidance.

Need help?

Librarians can help you with finding resources: Ask our Librarians.