Copyright laws can be confusing. It is important to understand how to correctly reference, acknowledge or gain permission for any work you are referring to in an assessment. Generally, you will not be infringing copyright if you are using the work for research purposes and acknowledge the work by referencing in the correct format.  However, it is best to understand the rules, and to be certain before submitting work. 

For more information see the Australian Copyright Council's website at



The Whitehouse Institute understands that a great deal of information is available to you about your study topics: on-line, in journals, books and magazines. However, to present the ideas in these works as your own is plagiarism, and runs counter to the teaching and learning philosophy of the Institute where you are being encouraged to develop your own creativity as well as your capacity to critically analyse other people's ideas. Plagiarism is prohibited, where plagiarism is formally recognised as the ‘presentation of thoughts or works of another as one's own' and this may include (but is not limited to):

  • Copying or paraphrasing material from any source without due acknowledgment
  • Using another's ideas without due acknowledgment
  • Working with others without permission and presenting the resulting work as though it was completed independently
  • Working with others with permission and not accurately crediting each person's contribution to the final work

Should it be alleged that you have plagiarised, the matter will be investigated in accordance with the Institute's plagiarism policy and procedure. Should it be found that you have plagiarised; penalties will apply and your enrolment could be terminated.


Understanding assessment questions

Before you start searching for information for an assessment it is important to fully understand the question that is being asked, this is often called Topic Analysis.

Generally speaking, there are three parts to an assessment question:

  • Instructional terms
    This will tell you how to approach the assessment. Is the assessment asking you to define, research, construct, design, etc?
  • Key concept terms
    This is the main focus or the topic you need to understand to be able to complete the assessment
  • Qualifying terms
    This (or these) term will narrow down your point of research from the key concept term. This will be a geographic location, time frame, specific size, etc

Evaluating information on the web

It is now easier than ever for anybody to create a website and post information on it, which may not be valid or authoritative. Therefore it is of great importance that students are able to assess whether information is scholarly for use in the Bachelor of Design.

The following questions are a good starting point for learning how to effectively evaluate information from websites:

  • Who wrote the information?
  • Does the author hold any qualifications in the field? Or does the author work as a professional in the field?
  • How is the information written?
    Newspaper and glossy magazine style articles are not scholarly. Read through the information and make a judgment, based on the language, whether the intended audience is scholarly. If the writing is more colloquial be aware that the information may not be as in-depth/scholarly as needed for assessments
  • What is the website address?
    While you cannot base your evaluation solely on the website address, you can make general assumptions about the information. 
    Information on .Edu (educational), .gov (governmental) or .org (organisational) websites are generally authoritative, while information on .com (commercial) may be influenced by the company's activities.
  • When the information was last updated?
    The field of design is constantly changing, so it is important to check how recently the information was updated. Generally authoritative websites will state the date the information was last updated/reviewed
  • Which other websites link to the information on this website?
    If a government, educational or organisational website links to the information you have found, it will generally mean that the information is relevant or authoritative. However, you still need to check how current the material is, as the page may have been linked a long time ago
  • How long is the piece of information?
    If the piece is only brief, the information may be superficial
  • Does the author/website cite any references?
    If the information has been referenced from other sources, it is generally speaking of a scholarly level


Searching for information

For quick but effective searching choose the relevant keywords or search terms from the assessment question. Use AND to combine all the relevant keywords when searching (explained further in Boolean Logic). Use synonyms or alternative versions of the keywords to make sure your search has not been limited

Boolean Logic

if you use more than one keyword most search engines and catalogues will automatically assume AND eg if you type in cat dog and they will search for cat AND dog – unless it specifically says it is a browse search, and then it will search alphabetically.

OR can come in handy when there is more than one spelling e.g. color OR colour, globalisation OR globalization.

NOT comes in handy if you are after one particular term not in relation to another e.g. chocolate NOT cake.

If you are searching for a phrase use quotation marks “Eveleigh railway”.

If you are unsure of exact spelling, or want different tenses (waiting, waited, etc) from your search using an asterisk (*) allows for different endings to words e.g. run* will find any word that begins with “run” including run, runner, running. However, this is better with longer words, as run* could bring back runway, runabout, runny, rung and many more. The more specific you can be, the more relevant the results will be, e.g. globali* will return less possible word combinations than run* (although in some search engines they symbol used is not an asterisk – if an asterisk does not work, check the help file to see if a different symbol is used).

In some search engines you can specify the type of site you want results retrieved from. You can either go into advanced search, or you can just type site: and then the suffix of the sites you would like to retrieve eg. will only return pages of Australian educational institutes or will only return pages from Australian government sites.

Library catalogues do not include “the” or “a” in their browse search so if you are looking for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and you do a browse search you would drop the “a” and search for “midsummer night’s dream”.



The accepted style of referencing used at Whitehouse Institute of Design is Harvard. This referencing style requires that you include the following two elements in your assignments:

  • In-text referencing
  • Bibliography, the list of references at the end of your assignment

A guide for this style of referencing is available from the resources page in the student zone. Remember that it is a requirement of all assessments that all information used is referenced correctly - including websites.

Make an Enquiry