It might seem obvious, but the first step is to make sure you understand the topic.
1) Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question to help you develop a search strategy.
2) Work out why the topic is being been offered. Is it:
controversial ? complicated? what makes the topic interesting?
Use dictionaries and encyclopaedias to find definitions and background information. Articles from specialized subject encyclopaedias are authoritative and often substantial.
Read more on:
If you don't understand what you have to do for an assignment, ask your lecturer, your tutor or someone at the Learning Skills Centre.
Search the Library catalogue:
Read more on:
If you can't find the kind of information you want on these databases, ask a subject librarian - we can help you choose the right database and the right keywords to use.
The internet has a lot of information, but not all of it is useful or reliable. Consider the source of the page. Suitable sources are
Use the Advanced Search features of Google to restrict your search to results from reputable sources.
Do not use articles directly from Wikipedia, although you can use its content (eg keywords or phrases) to search other sources
Use Google Scholar to find reliable journal articles. Adjust the Scholar Preference to recongnise the University of Canterbury, and you will get full text whenever it is available through our library subscriptions.
For information on evaluating websites, see:
Evaluating Web Sites: Criteria and Tools (Cornell University)
Learning how to determine the relevance and authority of a given resource for your research is one of the core skills of the research process.
For information on analyzing sources, see:
Critically Analyzing Information Sources (Cornell University)