Skip to Main Content
University of Wollongong Australia

Finding information

How to find information for your assessments, and how to get the most out of your sources once you've found them.

Effective searching

What you can learn from this page:

  • How to use search strategies and tips.
  • How to understand and identify keywords.
  • How to find relevant information.

Take a look at this diagram and see what steps you need to follow to begin researching for your assignment.

Profile view of a stylised head with two gear inside it. Multi-coloured circles radiating from a central, red, circle. A stylised light bulb. Red, white and blue circles falling into a filter. A stylised profile of a person sitting at a computer.

1. Look at your assessment task or question 2. Connect your search words 3. Use search tricks 4. Improve your results 5. Practice searching

What are the main ideas?

What concepts or theories have you covered in your subject?

Write down your main ideas, synonyms, related words and phrases.

Use OR

adolescent OR teenager

They mean the same thing. This search will find both (or either) of the search words.


adolescent AND "physical activity"

These words represent the main ideas in the question. This will find results with both of the search words.


The asterisk symbol (*) helps you search for words with different endings.

teen* will find words like teen, teens, teenager and teenagers.

“ ... ”

Quotation marks (e.g. "physical activity") will find common phrases to make your results more relevant.

You can narrow your search results in databases by filtering the appropriate fields.

For example:

  • year (for up-to-date research)
  • type (e.g. article or book)
  • subject (for relevance)

1. Practice searching by using your own assessment question.

2. Our Search Word Generator will help you think of relevant words and phrases to use with AND or OR.

3. Take this 5-10 minute database searching tutorial for guided help with Library's SEARCH.

Understanding keywords

Identifying the keywords in your assessment question can help you create an effective search and find relevant information.

Additional resources:

How to find relevant information

Searching is a process and there may not be that one perfect source to answer your assessment question.

You'll have to look at many sources and think critically about how they might support your argument.

Video Transcript

A-Z databases |  Library SEARCH |  Learning Co-Op

Opening hours |  Printing, copying & scanning |  Services for students |  Subject readings

Borrowing information |  Borrowing from other libraries |  Frequently Asked Questions |  Give feedback