Appropriate sources and search techniques plus accurate referencing is a requirement for research of high standard. Start here for the best advice on making searches for literature, using a referencing style correctly and to find a tool or software application suitable to your needs.
Define your search question
Choosing a topic for a research project is a crucial first step. A good topic will develop from the following activities. This process is known as defining your search question, or framing an answerable question. This step reduces the amount of time spent sifting through irrelevant results and papers.
Develop your search strategy
A search strategy is a structured organisation of terms used to search a database. The search strategy shows how these terms combine in order to retrieve the best results. Different databases work in different ways, so you need to adapt your search strategy for each of the databases you use. This process is often referred to as "tailoring" your search. You may also decide to develop separate search strategies for different aspects of your research.
Documenting your search
This means recording where you looked for information, why you chose those sources, how you carried out your searches and how many results were found. Keep track of your activities as you search. It is much harder to justify the decisions you made and to remember the results you found in each source after the event.
Managing information and referencing
During the course of writing an essay, report or other assignment it is usual to support arguments by referring to, or citing, information produced by other authors. This information could be presented in journal or newspaper articles, government reports, books or specific chapters of books, research dissertations or theses, material over the internet etc.
Write a literature review
A literature review is usually just the first portion of a paper that plans to report a study. It surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic.