Skip to Main Content

Academic Writing


Critical Thinking

The most important aspect of research is being critical.  Critical thinking means constantly evaluating what you are reading for inaccuracies, bias, mistaken thinking and anything else which could undermine its value as evidence in your argument.

You will be assessed by the insight you show into the sources and the quality of reasoning for your judgment.  You are unlikely to be assessed for the judgment you make.  Academics are not expected to agree with each other.  What matters is the quality of the justification you provide.


The key to successful searching is limiting your results.

The best search engine for source material is the library search.  In the first instance, spend a few moments reflecting on what it is you how to find through your search. The best approach is to run an initial search in the  search box on the main library homepage, then refine the results using the filters you will see on the left.

For further detail on searching please view our successful searching guide.


Research involves finding sources, reading them, understanding them, and making notes. 

SAGE Research methods: content for all faculties

Take a look at SAGE Research Methods database, specifically, the dedicated Faculty page here.

  • Reading lists

Instructors can customize and embed reading lists for their students featuring specific chapters, articles, cases, datasets, and videos.

  • Embedded video

Instructors can easily create clips to customize content for their teaching needs and embed them into their online learning environment.

  • Content mapping

Instructors can browse recommended research methods content by discipline to help them find the best resources for their students. You can also: 

You can print off 20 copies of resources per class. Alternatively, share the link to the full text content with all of youScreenshot of Sage Research Methodsr students, in your reading list, or by email. 

Taking Notes

Taking notes as you research is essential.  Recognise note-taking is a skill, just like researching and writing.  It is a skill which can be improved with study and practice.  

It is essential you record the citation information for any notes you take.  If you want to use that material in your essay, you will need to cite it.  You do not need to record the page number unless you wish to use the material in a direct quote.

The university provides a number of note-taking tools:

Microsoft OneNote

PDF extraction

Other Highlight Extractions



You will need to locate quality sources to support your argument. 

The general rule is that a source must be “peer-reviewed.”  Peer review is a process by which someone’s work is checked by other academics before it is published.

Academic journals are peer-reviewed, so papers published in academic journals will be acceptable as sources for your assignment. Journals subscribed to by the Library are of high quality so you should begin your research process by consulting the Library catalogue.

Literature Review

Each discipline has its own approach to literature reviews. Make sure to consult the guidelines within your discipline. 

They require you to provide a critical summary of the relevant published material.  You must summarise the contents, and identify key features and trends, such as implications, inconsistencies or how it relates to other sources.

Literature reviews are not always required, even in dissertations and theses.  If you are not sure if a literature review is appropriate when working at this level, check with your supervisor.