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History: Researching

Searching the Melbourne High School Catalogue

Choose Author, Title or Series searches if you have accurate details relating to specific resource, otherwise choose Subject or Keyword. A Subject search will check the Subject headings attached to a record, a Keyword search will search the word or phrase in the author, title, series, notes and subject fields of a record.

Power search can be used to refine searches by restricting to a particular format, eg. DVD, or by Type, eg. Non-fiction or Location,eg. Reference.

State Library of Victoria - Ergo


Stakeholders are the people who stand to lose or gain in your topic.

For example, if you are writing about thyroid cancer, stakeholders would be victims of thyroid cancer, pharmaceutical companies that sponsor research about thyroid cancer, health insurance companies that pay for treatment of thyroid cancer, the government because it makes health policy to protect citizens who might get thyroid cancer, and probably others.

The advantage of knowing the stakeholders is that when you evaluate information a stakeholder produces, you already understand why they produced information, so you understand their bias, or perspective.

If you don't know who the stakeholders are, you can read some periodical articles (from a database), find stakeholders' names, and then use Google to determine if they have a web site. 

Deep Web

The "deep web" or "invisible web," refers to the vast web content that goes untapped because traditional search engines can't "see" it.

Below are some search engines that access the deep web:


Researching and Citing

Understand your assignment
Read your assignment thoroughly. What are the deadlines? How many pages and sources are required?

Select a topic from the choices provided.

Get an overview of your topic
Begin with a general reference source such as an encyclopedia to get an overview

Develop a list of keywords
Using the information you read to get an overview, create a list of keywords that will help you in the next stages of information gathering

Find, review and evaluate resources
Search the library and other local library catalogues for book and other print resources. Search the library databases for magazine and journal articles. Evaluate resources for validity, accuracy and usefulness. Create a working bibliography of potential sources.

Focus in on the detail of your topic and if necessary develop a research question.

Read first, then take notes
It is easier to take notes after reading through the material once. You will be better oriented and have a greater overall understanding. Use a systematic approach to notetaking

Develop an outline
Now that you have a few notes and a better understanding of your topic you're ready to turn your focus question into an outline for your paper.

Revisit notes and identify where you need more information. Now that you have an outline, take notes on your different sections. Evaluate your notes to ensure you have enough information to write each section.

Write, Edit and Review
Review the citation guide so you can be sure to avoid plagiarism. Refer to your assignment for formatting specifications.

Power Searching - Merspi


Once you have an idea, or have been given the topic, brainstorm some words that authors could use to describe that idea. These will become your search terms. A mind mapping tool will help you develop these ideas.

Mindmapping Tools

Mindmapping is a good tool for brainstorming and generating ideas for your keywords.

Apps for mobile devices

Smarter Google Searching

Don't worry ... you're not alone ... librarians even use it!

Google can be very helpful but it is much more useful if you know how to use it effectively.


Some basic search tips:

  • Use quotation marks when searching for a phrase e.g. "climate change"
  • Use the I'm feeling lucky button to find the most popular website on a topic

Search website titles:

  • e.g. allintitle:climate change

Search specific sites or domains:

  •  eg: site:edu            (searchs .edu sites only)
  • eg:         (searches only government sites)

Search for specific document types:

  • eg: filetype:pdf          filetype:ppt               filetype:xls

Find a definition:

  • eg: define: nanotechnology

Advanced search option:

  • You can combine many of the above commands and add date restrictions, if you start your search in the Advanced Search screen

Video: Why Google when you can Google Scholar? (Just remember that you should never pay for an article. See the Why Not? box above).

    Melbourne High School History Databases

    Below is a list of the library's online databases containing articles which are useful for the study of History. These databases are available both on and off school campus. To open these links and search the databases off campus. Visit the Melbourne High School Library Databases for login details
    With over 73,000 articles, Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition is one of the most complete and accurate information sources in the world. It contains both short and book length articles on every subject.
    EbscoHost - The Australian and New Zealand Reference Centre is an online index of journals and newspapers. A great deal of content is available in full-text. It does provide full-text of The Age, The Australian and the Herald-Sun.
    Modern World History Online Covers the people, places, and events in the broad expanse of history—from the mid-15th century to the present.
    Milestones of Modern History: Online access to this title on Salem History: 
    Click on this direct link to Salem History 
    ClickView Online is a digitised video library available across the School Network and from home. It provides access to approximately 10,000 titles which can be searched by category or keyword. ClickView also enables a movie clip to be exported in a format that can be inserted easily into Powerpoint or Word.