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Getting Started

On this page, you will find a step-by-step guide on how to use the library for your assessment. You will also find links to more in-depth information along the way. Assessments can be daunting but we're here to get you on the right track!


Understand - Try these tips to better understand your topic 

Plan - Improve your search results with these strategies

Search and Find - Find information for your assessments

Evaluate - Make sure your books and articles are appropriate for your assessment task

Write and Reference - Get the best use out of the books and articles you found in your search 


If you have more questions, you can chat with us!

Understand your topic

Not sure where to start with your assessment? Here, we’ll guide you through how to break down your task into manageable steps.


1. Use the assessment question

You need to use your assessment question to identify the key topics. The assessment topics will inform the focus of your background reading and your search for further information.


Example question: Identify and discuss two ethical issues around AI-generated art.

For this example, the key topics would be ethical issues and AI-generated art.

visualisation of the question broken up into topics

Watch these Academic Success videos to learn more about what your assessment question and assessment brief are asking of you.


2. Do your background reading

Use your key topics from your assessment task to help you select relevant readings from your Reading List.

Look for the Reading List in your subject's Blackboard page (found in the left-hand navigation panel) that gives you quick access to all of your readings in one place.

screenshot of Blackboard navigation menu with Reading List highlighted

Plan your search

Want to get the most out of your search? You need to use high-quality, credible sources of information for University assessments, so plan ahead to get better search results.


3. Find your keywords

When we type a question into Google we are using natural language. Databases don’t understand natural language so you will need to break your search into key words or search terms. Use the topics you identified from your assessment question to brainstorm for more key words to search for.


Example question: Identify and discuss two ethical issues around AI-generated art


The two topics here are ethical issues and AI-generated art. Think about other related words that you can search for.

Topics Other key words
Ethical issues Ethics, social implications, controversy, unethical, intellectual property
AI-generated art Generative AI, artificial intelligence, AI art, computer generated art


4. Use Boolean operators


When searching, use AND, OR and NOT to connect your search terms and broaden or narrow your search. These operators tell the database's search engine what to do with your search terms.

  • AND - Each result contains all search terms
  • OR - Each result contains at least one search term
  • NOT - Results do not contain the specified terms


This table represents AND and OR operators for the above example.

Ethical issues AND AI-generated art



Social implications






Intellectual property


Generative AI


Artificial intelligence


AI art


Computer generated art

Learn more about Boolean operators in this video.

Search and find

Once you’ve brainstormed your keywords it’s time to put them in a search.   

Think about where the information is likely to be found. Credible information can be found in a variety of sources, such as the examples listed below.

Academic Sources

These sources are typically written by experts in the field, such as academics and researchers.

  • Scholarly books & eBooks - good for general, established information, on a broad range of topics and subject areas
  • Scholarly journal articles - where you will find the most up-to-date information and research, often peer-reviewed

Non-academic Sources

These sources are typically written by professionals in the field, such as practitioners and journalists.

  • Industry reports - provide overviews of industries, markets, or sectors
  • Government websites - good for population data, policy and government reports
  • Newspapers, Magazines and Trade journals - provide information about current industry trends


What is a library database?

Searching in library databases is different to searching on the internet. You will save time in your assessments by learning how to search library databases to access credible, academic research. 

Learn more about library databases.


Developing your skills

Want to search like an expert? Here are our ten top tips.

Searching is a skill you can hone with practice – don’t give up if you’re not getting the results you want: change your keywords, change the database, or change your search strategy.

For help contact library staff on Chat.


Find information using Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a search engine that finds scholarly literature. You may not have full access to all search results but you can link to Torrens University's databases by watching this video.

Evaluate your resources

By now you’ve probably found a whole lot of different resources – but how to know which are most appropriate for your assessment?

  • Credible sources – At university, you are required to find, evaluate and use information from ‘credible’ sources. Credible sources provide information that is factual and unbiased, and has been written by experts in the field of research. Learn more about credible sources of information here.
  • Peer-reviewed articles – You are often expected to use peer-reviewed articles. Peer-reviewed journals are considered the gold standard of academic publishing and contain high-quality content. Learn more about peer-reviewed articles here.


Evaluation tool: CRAP test

The CRAP test is a tool for evaluating the credibility of a source. Ask yourself these questions when evaluating your sources:

C Currency
  • How recent is the information?
  • When was the book or journal article published?  
  • When was the website last updated?
  • If it is older, is the information based on established knowledge, standards, or understanding?
R Reliability
  • Does the information seem balanced?
  • Is the information supported by research, evidence and references?
  • Does the information come from a peer-reviewed publication?
A Authority
  • Are the author and publisher qualified, and do they have expertise in the subject area? 
P Purpose/ point of view
  • What is the intent or purpose of the information?
  • Is there any bias?
  • Is the information relevant for your purposes?


If you need clarification about the credibility of a particular source, ask your Learning Facilitator or contact the library via Chat.

Write and reference


Referencing refers to the process of acknowledging the sources you use in your assignments.

You need to include both:

  • in-text citations, and
  • a reference list

Torrens University uses a modified version of the American Psychological Society 7th edition referencing style. Visit our APA Referencing Tool for examples of how to reference different formats.

Learn more about referencing with these videos.

To help you manage your references, Torrens University supports Mendeley Reference Manager.

Assessment writing

Learn about the requirements of different types of assessments with these Academic Success videos: