Preparing to search
One of the most important steps in the researching process is to understand your topic.
During your university career, you will be required to write essays and submit a variety of assignments. One of the most important tasks is to understand and interpret the question and, in particular, to recognise what your information needs are.
There are a few steps you can take to make sure you understand what is being asked of you:
- analyse the question
- look up any unfamiliar words in a dictionary or thesaurus
- use encyclopaedias and other reference material to gain basic statistical or background information
- review what you know and identify what further information you need
Once you have a clear understanding of the assignment and the extent of information you need to draw on, you can start searching for resources in a more focused and considered way.
Analysing the topic
Imagine you've been given the following assignment:
Land rights in Northern Australia is a contentious issue. Trace the history of land rights in Northern Australia and briefly comment on a Northern Territory contemporary land rights example..
What steps might Sarah take to get started?
>Type your ideas in the box below.
The first step in any assignment is to analyse the topic.
unpack the question in manageable pieces
brainstorm the essay question - ask Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Identify the keywords / concepts
List words that are similar (synonyms)
Broaden the topic: look at the bigger picture
Narrow the topic: investigate a specific example
Look at the essay topic below.
One of the hallmarks of a profession is its willingness to establish ethical standards to guide practitioners’ conduct. Discuss why ethical standards are so important to professions and professional life.
What are some keywords you could use to search for books and journal articles on this topic?
Type your answer in the box below:
What synonyms, or alternative terms, can you think of to broaden or narrow your search?