This page provides information on getting started on your assignment and keyword searching strategies.
Keywords (or key words) are words that tell you what approach you should take when answering an assignment question.
Keywords can include content (topic), limiting (restricting), and task (instruction) words.
"Research different types of jib cranes and apply fundamental mechanics and scientific skills in the design of a crane boom structure. The boom will be designed to allow for a gantry style sliding."
When you are searching for information for an essay question, assignment or project, use the identified content and limiting keywords to search for information sources in our Library Search and online.
Sample assignment topic: "Research different types of jib cranes and apply fundamental mechanics and scientific skills in the design of a crane boom. The boom will be designed to allow for a gantry style sliding."
Once you have analysed your topic and done some preliminary reading, you are ready to break down the chosen research topic into key concepts selected from both the topic and your readings. It is best to identify 2 to 4 key concepts, with each concept containing up to 2 words, which will serve as keywords or search terms you'll type in Library Search to find relevant resources. You might need to build separate search strategies for different aspects of your research as well as use a variety of keywords to ensure you cover all aspects of the topic.
For example, focusing on the assignment topic, listed are the main concepts or keywords: 'jib cranes', 'boom', and 'design'. Alternatively, you could use more encompassing or inclusive concepts, as well as synonymous terms, such as:
jib crane design
boom structural design
crane boom design, etc.
Apply the following strategies to combine them:
jib crane AND (design OR construction OR structural analysis OR structural optimisation)
Boolean Operators are the words AND, OR, and NOT used in library databases that can make searches more precise, and save you time by removing the need to go through all the search results in order to find the most relevant articles. For example, for searching for certain types of renewable sources of energy, you could apply the following terms and operators:
AND narrows the search resulting in more focused results, for instance, searching for “fuel cell” AND "solar', all articles in your result will include both concepts (keywords)
OR broadens the search by instructing the database to search for any of the words, which is particularly useful for synonyms or related terms, i.e. “fuel cell” OR “solar” OR “lithium”
NOT narrows the search by instructing the database to remove all unnecessary search results, for example “fuel cell” NOT “solar”
Search the library
Do you know what you are looking for?
Think about what types of information you would require in order to tackle your assignment, e.g. textbooks, handbooks or manuals, ebooks, research articles, standards, government publications? Write down any significant words (keywords) that describe your topic.
Course or unit coordinators generally provide a list of references (reading material) linked to a unit that is a good starting point for getting familiar with the topic. If the reading list is not provided, then you can start with a textbook, encyclopedia or a subject dictionary to gain a basic understanding of the topic.
Know where to look for information sources
Use the Library Search, the library’s discovery platform to find library resources. The Library Search enables you to search across the range of library’s online and print resources in one search. View the results of your search in the retrieved list of records. Each record gives brief bibliographic details of the item and either a link that provides the full access to the item, or the information about the item’s location including how many copies are available.
The classic library catalogue is still available and convenient as it allows for field searching (e.g. unit code) that the Library Search does not allow for. It is also the fastest tool for looking up the exact title or the author you are looking for.
Browse the shelves
A number of useful print material is available on the library shelves. A book is shelved according to its call number. Call numbers group similar subjects together on the library shelves. View the subject areas and call number ranges that are typically relevant to Mechanical Engineering.
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