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Assignment and Study Help - Degree Courses

How to find different types of information

Getting started

Now that you have found your instruction/direction words, keywords and developed your search strategy, you need to determine what types of information you need, as well as how to locate, evaluate and retrieve that information.

Get an overview an encyclopedia provides a brief overview of the topic and can lead you to other relevant resources
Get going a book gives you information specific to your assessment question
Finish strong print or electronic journals
Take notes record all relevant information
Reference your work
Ask a Librarian if help is needed

What are your information needs?

After you've analysed your topic and created search strategies, and before you begin looking for information, you will need to know what kind of information you require.


  • vary in scope and depth, and usually contain chapters that look at a topic in greater detail.
  • make a good starting point for research.
  • are available in print and electronic (ebook) formats.

Reference (dictionaries, encyclopaedias)

  • provide an introduction to a topic.
  • reference sources are a good starting point when you are not familiar with the subject.


  • are collections of information and provide you with subject related information found in journals, conference papers, newspapers, reports, and other publications.
  • will provide access to either the full text of the publication or sometimes only a summary.


  • are publications that contain original research which has been written by subject experts and peer reviewed by other experts

Library catalogue

  • tells you what materials are held by that library.
  • shows you where to find books, journals, ebooks, and DVDs on a variety of subject areas.

Lecture notes

  •  information presented in class containing central concepts of the course ideas.


  • report on current news and events, and analysis and opinion.
  • can be biased in their opinion.
  • are published daily or weekly.


You may need to consider:

How much information do I need to answer the question or complete the task?

You will need more information for writing an assignment or report than for a 5 minute powerpoint presentation.

Do I need current or historical information?

If you are required to find current information the sources you need will be different to those needed for a history-based task.

Do I need scholarly or popular information?

Assignment topics may require you to find scholarly, professional, academic or in-depth information, or you may need information from popular magazines, newspapers or websites.

You may also need to consider if you need to locate primary sources or secondary sources.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are records of events as they are first described, or materials in their original format.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources provide interpretation of information from primary sources.

In secondary sources the information from primary sources have been modified, selected or rearranged to suit an audience or purpose.

There are many different places you can look for information.

The TAFE Queensland Libraries catalogue can be accessed both on and off campus. 

The catalogue contains the details and location of all resources (print and electronic) held by the library.


What is a catalogue?

It shows you what resources are held by a library – all the books, DVDs, CDs, magazines and many other types of resources such as databases and electronic/online books.

Please note: You won’t find journal articles in the catalogue. For these you should search individual databases.


Where can I find the catalogue?

The library catalogue can be accessed both on and off campus.

On campus - each TAFE Queensland library has a computer you can use to access the catalogue.

Online - you can access the catalogue online anytime via the TAFE website in your region as long as you have an internet connection.


How do I log in to use the catalogue?

Log in to access online resources, including databases, streamed videos and e-books.


Your Username/ID is your TAFE Queensland student number.

Your Password/PIN is your date of birth (ddmmyyyy) or your Connect password if you have already set this up.


How do I Search?

For a Basic search you can enter your topic words (keywords) in the search box and hit the Search button.

  • The search results will be displayed showing brief details, including location and availability details.
  • Click on a title to display full details including location and availability details.
  • Click on the link to view electronic resources. You may need to be logged in depending on which resource you are accessing.
  • To find items in your local TAFE library, take note of the Call Number as this is where you will find the item on the shelves.
  • Also note any Access Details to see if there are copies available for loan.

The library also subscribes to many subject-specific and general databases that you should use to search for information.

What's in a database?

Databases can contain: journal articles, ebooks, book chapters, and video clips.

Why should I use a database?

Using databases allows you to:

  • Search quickly for information on a particular topic without having to spend a lot of time browsing through journals or books.
  • Find more dependable information than you would on the Internet. Articles in databases are likely to contain more reliable and more thoroughly researched information than material on the Internet.
How do I access databases? Our online databases can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days per week which means information is available to you at all times, even when the library is closed.

How do I choose the right database?

Choosing the right database to use can save you a lot of time.

Log in to browse and find databases relevant to YOUR studies.

Go to the Subject Guide relevant to your studies and find databases that have been recommended for your area of study

Need help?

While most databases have many common features and functions you may need to familiarize yourself with buttons or search options specific to the database you are using to get the best results and save time. Some easy ways to do this include:

  • Ask a Librarian - You can always ask a librarian for assistance in person, over the phone or via email. Contact details are available on the library website.
  • Online help - All databases have an online Help section. In most cases help is available from the initial screen, providing a general explanation of how the database works, search tips, and other useful features.

Journals are publications issued on a regular basis (eg weekly, monthly, quarterly).  They are often referred to as serials, magazines or periodicals.

There are many different kinds of journals.  they can include popular magazines, trade publications, news magazines, newspapers and scholarly journals.  In addition to print form, many journals can be accessed electronically in fulltext via database.


What are journals used for?

Journals can be used when you are searching for current information, as journals are often the place where research is first published.  Information is usually published in journal articles before it becomes available in books or reference resources.

Journals can also be used for specific information that is more focussed to your topic eg: opinions and reviews on a particular issue or subject.

How to find journal articles on a specific topic

If you are looking for articles on a specific topic or by a particular author, the most efficient way to search is using a database. 

TAFE Queensland subscribes to a range of databases that can be accessed through the library webpage.  For more information on how to search databases, refer to the Database tab in this section.

How to find journal articles within the library


For those articles that are not available in fulltext on a database, you will need to note down the citation or details of the article.  This usually includes the author, article title, serial title, volume, issue number, year, and the page numbers.  You may already be familiar with these citations or references from your course reading lists.

The example below will help you to identify the parts of a citation:

Winder, Davey(Author) (2006)(Date) 'Internet reloaded',(Article Title) PC Authority,(Journal Title) May 2006,(Volume) (102)(Issue Number) pp24-28(page numbers)

From your citation, you will need to check whether the library holds the journal that your article is published in.  To do this, you will need to search the library catalogue for the journal title - not the article title!

For example, to find out if the library holds the journal above, you would search the catalogue using the title search option and type in PC Authority as your journal title.

TIP - Individual serial articles are not indexed in the library catalogue. This means you cannot search the catalogue using the 'article title' or the 'author's name'. You can only search the catalogue using the journal title.

How to find journal articles within the library


Locating journal articles is different from locating books.  The library catalogue will tell you whether the TAFE Queensland Libraries hold a particular journal, but it will not tell you what articles are in the journal.

Look at the holdings information in the catalogue record to ensure that the library holds the particular issue you want, then write down the call number to locate the journal on the shelves.

You can browse issues and select the year that you're interested in locating.

eJournals, or online magazines, can be viewed by logging into the library webpage using your student number (username) and your date of birth (password).  Search for the magazine you would like to read and click on the link to access content.

Depth of coverage is a good indication of the usefulness of the information.


  • Is it based on proven facts?
  • Is it published in a scholarly or peer-reviewed publication?
  • Is the overall quality good?
  • Is it a primary or secondary source?
  • Is it comprehensive?
  • Its ease of identification - whose website is it?
  • Stability of information
  • Is it easy to use and navigate?
  • Its quality of text- are there spelling or grammatical errors?
  • Its quality of graphics - are they clear?
  • Its usability of links - are there any broken links or errors?


Who has written it?

  • Is the author associated with a reputable university, organisation or company?

Who published it?

  • Is it a scholarly or peer reviewed publication?

Is this a trustworthy source of information?

  • What is their area of expertise?
  • Are they trying to sell you something - an idea or product?

Who is the author?

  • Does the author/webmaster provide contact information?


Determining the intended audience can help decide the usefulness of information. Consider the following:

  • Is there jargon directed at specific groups?
  • Is the target audience clearly indicated? General public or academia?
  • Is the content light-hearted or serious?
  • Is the language level appropriate for your needs?
  • Does the page have a corporate sponsor?
  • Can you figure out what the site is about quickly?


  • Argumentative or persuasive?
  • Are both sides presented?
  • Facts or opinions?
  • Personal viewpoints expressed?
  • Are you being sold something?
  • Links to outside websites & their opinion?


  • When was the page written/updated?
  • Is the information current?
  • Are there newer editions of the information?
  • Check the dates of items listed in bibliographies or works cited in pages - if they are old then the information may no longer be current.
  • Can information be verified at other similar sites?
  • Is there a contact link for questions and/or comments?
  • Are there contact details of page owner?


You also have access to the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) databases.

Visit the SLQ website link below to learn how to join to be able to access the databases.

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