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Westcourt iCentre: Research Skills

Middle & Senior School Library Home

Where Do I Start?

Generative AI tools can be useful in range of ways, including assisting with skills in time management, organisation, creativity and problem-solving.

It is important to note that these tools should NOT be used to write, or produce, any part of your assessment response unless it has been explicitly required in your assessment task. 

Ways to us generative AI in your study

The Research Process

Paraphrasing, Quoting and Summarising

Paraphrasing, Quoting and Summarising

Paraphrasing involves putting information from a source into your own words, without changing the meaning of the source you used. You must then acknowledge that source in your essay or report. An easy way to remember paraphrasing is to imagine you are telling your next door neighbour what you have just read in your own words.

Summarising involves putting the main idea(s) from a source into your own words, but including only the main point(s). You must then acknowledge the original source in your essay or report.

Quoting involves using a brief segment of a source, word for word, in your essay or report. You let the reader know you have quoted directly from the source by enclosing the text in inverted commas. You must acknowledge that source in your essay or report.

Rules of paraphrasing:                                                  

Don’t interject your own views            Do make sure you understand the original
Don’t change or distort the meaning or intent of the original text   Do use your own words and sentence structures
Don’t leave out significant information   Do identify the source
Don’t quote large sections that could be rephrased   Do enclosed quoted words and phrases in quotation marks
Don’t present paraphrased material as your own


Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search  

TIP: You can use filetype:pdf in your search e.g genetics filetype:pdf to find PDF versions of articles. If you find an article in Google Scholar that you can't access, try searching for it in our library databases.

Google Scholar Search Tips

Credible Sources

Primary, secondary and tertiary information source

Primary sources are first-hand accounts at the time of an event
e.g. news reports, podcasts, diaries, census and statistics.


Secondary sources are second-hand accounts of an event or topic
e.g. journal articles, textbooks, newspaper articles and books.


Tertiary sources combine primary and secondary sources
e.g. fact books, almanacs, dictionaries and encyclopaedias.



database is an online collection of electronic journal and newspaper articles, research papers and much more. Most databases offer Advanced Search functions, so you can use your search strategy.

You will find peer-reviewed and scholarly journal articles in databases.



Because it is easy for anyone to publish anything on a website, you need to find websites that contain reliable information.

Websites with these domains (the URL ending) generally have reliable information:

  • .org (a registered organisation)
  • .edu (an educational institution)
  • .gov (a government agency)
  • (an Australian government agency)

Websites with .com or .net. are not unreliable, but they should be used with caution.

In Google's Advanced Search, you can limit your searches by domain.

You still need to evaluate any information you find (see Step 5) no matter what source you use.


Boolean Operators

What are Boolean operators? How can I use them to improve my searches?


Boolean is a set of commands that can be used in almost every search engine, database, or online catalogue.  The most popular Boolean commands are ANDOR, and NOT.  Other commands include parenthesestruncation, and phrases.

Narrow your search using AND

Using the Boolean command AND in your search tells the search engine to give you results that contain all of the words you have entered.  


media AND violence: only those results that contain both media and violence will appear in your search results list.

Expand your search using OR

Using Boolean command OR in your search tells the search engine to give you results that contain any of the words you have entered.


teenagers OR adolescents:  any results that contain either teenagers or adolescents will appear in your results list.

Narrow your results using NOT

Using Boolean command NOT in your search tells the search engine to give you results that contain the word(s) you entered except the word following NOT. 


Psychology NOT Developmental:  any results that contain the word "psychology" will appear in your results list except those results that also contain the word "developmental".


Capitalize your Boolean commands. Some databases only accept these operators when they are capitalized.


This video has been created by LaTrobe University Library. Although it addresses university students, it is just as relevant to us (although we are not always looking for peer-reviewed articles, but we are always looking for authoritative information.)

Pros and cons of Google search:

Pros of Google: Google is free and easy to use. Advanced Search allows you to refine your results.

Pros of Google Scholar: Google Scholar includes peer reviewed content, although some results are behind a paywall. Results include citations and references. 

Cons of Google: Google search results can be overwhelming and therefore confusing. You will have to evaluate the results for relevance and credibility. In addition, since Google benefits from advertising, be careful to recognise the ads which are at the top of the search results. You will have to evaluate your results.

Cons of Google Scholar: Not everything is freely accessible in full-text. 

Read more about Google Scholar search tips

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