SAE Student Libary Portal

Search Tips

Information Resources | Books | Journal articles | Websites | Subject Guides

An information search strategy is outlined below. Follow the links for more information on specific sources of information.

Define your topic

Get a clear idea of what you are looking for:

  • Identify significant terms, key words, concepts?
  • Ask questions – what, when, where, how, why, which?
  • Draw a mind map of the main concepts
  • Cluster related ideas

Background information

Gain an understanding of your topic from:

  • Dictionaries for words you do not understand
  • Encyclopedias for an overview of your topic
  • Textbooks for background information and to place a topic in context

These resources are often located in the Reference Collection of the library.

Books, CDs, DVDs
  • Unit Guides list the texts and recommended readings for assignments. These items are often available physically and/or electronically within the Library's collections.
  • Use discovery to find out what resources are available through the Library & Learning Centre. Use Discovery's facets to limit search results.
    • Search by keyword or subject. Note: Library catalogues use a standard list of subject headings and often use US spellings and terminology.
    • Try synonyms and related words if you do not find anything at first.


Up-to date information can often be found in magazines and journals, sometimes called periodicals or serials in libraries.

  • Popular magazines contain entertaining or informative articles of interest to the general public.
  • Trade magazines provide news and information about new products aimed at practitioners.
  • Scholarly journals are written by subject specialists and often report on original research. Articles in peer-reviewed or refereed journals undergo a review by subject experts before they are accepted for publication.

A wealth of information can be found on the web, although it can be of dubious quality.

  • Check the credentials of any site you use.
  • Use different search engines as results can differ considerably.
  • Try subject directories and web portals for additional resources not found by search engines.

People and organisations

Sometimes the best place to get your information is from experts in the field or organisations. Personal contact can save time and yield fruitful results.

Evaluate the information

Once you have gathered information on your topic, review it to determine if any further information is required. Consider the following criteria:

  • Relevance
  • Currency
  • Reliability
  • Accuracy
  • Coverage.

Reference your sources

Record details of any source you use.

  • Details vary according to the type of resource: book, journal article, website or other. For example, a book requires author, date of publication, title, publisher and place of publication.
  • SAE Southern follows the style outlined in the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th corrected ed.). (2010). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

It is often very difficult to trace details of an information resource afterwards. Save yourself time and stress by taking note of all required details when you find resources.

Contact library staff for help finding information on an assignment topic

Last updated 4/3/19