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Help yourself - How to research your assignment

Search strategy

Your search strategy can be dissected into key steps to help you retrieve more relevant results:

  1. Identify your main keywords to search
  2. Brainstorm synonyms or related terms
  3. Plan what resources you will use to search for information e.g. Library Search or ACU Library subject guides to select subject-specific resources. 
  4. Use search tips such as truncation, and phrasing when searching. 

Return Home for more detail on how and where to find scholarly resources suitable for your studies. 

Identify and brainstorm keywords

It is important to identify the important issues and topics (keywords) to focus on in your research. 

Once your keywords are established, include any synonyms or related terms. Credo Reference has a Mind Map feature that can help you identify related terms to expand your search. These will become your search terms.

For example:

innovation -- creativity

human resources -- personnel management

incentives -- rewards

word cloud representing key words

Search tips


Truncation allows you to search for all variants of a word.

  Truncated word

  What the database will search for


  ethic, ethics, ethically


  Australia, Australian, Australians, Australia’s


Wildcard symbols enable you to substitute a symbol for one letter of a word.  They are particularly useful for words with multiple spellings, and differences in British and American spelling.  The wildcard symbol is typically a question mark (?).

  Truncated word

  What the database will search for


  women, woman


  organization, organisation

Phrase searching

Quotation marks (“  “) will search for exact phrases, e.g., "emotional intelligence"

Connect your search terms

You may need to use connecting words (AND, OR) between your search terms in some databases

AND will search for both words in a record

e.g. "employee engagement" AND trust

OR will search for either term in a record.  Use for synonyms 

   E.g. reward* OR incentive*

Your search may look like this. (Note that you can apply limiters such as material type and date ranges, to your search results)

Keywords entered into a database