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Animation: Plan Your Search

A guide for Animation students. Includes finding, evaluating & referencing academic sources, films, images & where to find guides and tutorials for learning animation skills.

Why plan your search? 


At university you are expected to find and use scholarly information:

  • in your assignments
  • to prepare for class
  • to explore new theories and ideas

However, to find scholarly information you need to search in a particular way to get good results.

Use this page to learn how to plan your search and find the best scholarly information sources to use. 

Step 1: Identify your key concepts


Before you find any information, identify the main ideas (or key concepts) in your assignment question or research topic


Discuss the techniques used to portray culture in animated films. 

The key concepts are: 

Techniques Culture Animated films

Step 2: Brainstorm keywords & synonyms


Different words can be used to describe the same concept.

Think of other words that could be used to describe your key concepts.

  • Add synonyms for terms that are used to describe the same thing. 
  • Add related words that are in the same categories, or are included in the same topic area. 


Techniques Culture Animated films










movie / movies




Some resources to help with brainstorming: 

  • Google & Wikipedia
  • Dictionaries & Thesauri
  • Reference books & Encyclopedias

Step 3: Build your search


Boolean Operators are a way of telling a database or search engine how to do your search. Watch the video to learn how.

Use Boolean Operators to combine your keywords & synonyms into a search.

Use AND to combine key concepts 

Use OR to combine synonyms & similar words in (brackets)

You can build broad or specific searches using different synonyms & keywords.

Example 1: Broad Search

(techniques OR method) AND culture AND (animation OR anime)

Example 2: Specific Search

(colour OR lighting) AND culture AND Pixar

Step 4: Start searching


You will need to find different types of information during your studies. These may include: 

  • Books & book chapters
  • Journal articles
  • Reports
  • Images

The type of information you are looking for will determine where you search, and how you search. 

Using the steps above will help you find most of these information types, but there are also other places to look.

Explore this study guide or ask a librarian to discover more. 

Step 5: Review your results


Not all the information you get from a search will be useful. A successful search will show results relevant to your topic. If your results are not relevant go back and try different keywords in your search.

Find relevant results by checking the: 

Even if your information is relevant, it might not be good quality. Check if it passes the C.R.A.P. Test before you use it.