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Use the Library to get started with your assessment

Analyse the topic

When you first receive your assessment it can be difficult to know where to start. Understanding your topic is the first step.  

This section will cover:

  • How to identify instructional (task) content and limiting terms in your assessment topic
  • How to identify your topic keywords and alternative terms
  • Activity: Plan your search strategy

Understand your assessment question

If you have ever tried to cut and paste your assessment topic into LibrarySearch or Google, you will know your results aren't always very relevant. 

A better option is to break down your assessment question into concepts and keywords. 

The following assessment question has the concepts and keywords highlighted: 

Discuss the effects of climate change on bushfires in Australia

Identifying keywords

When you search for a keyword, the search engine will only show results that include that specific term. It will omit results where authors have written about the same topic, but have used different keywords.

For example, a search for 'climate change' may mean that you miss articles in which the authors have used the keywords 'climate crisis' or 'global warming'.

It is important to expand your list of keywords by thinking of other words that describe your topic. This includes synonyms, related words, abbreviations, acronyms and words that are specific to your area of study or research.

Keywords can be found in the following locations:

  • listed separately within a reference (often underneath of near the abstract)
  • within a database record (often in the 'details' section)
  • in a thesaurus (a resource that lists keywords and their synonyms and related terms)

Here is an example of keywords and alternative terms for the topic above.


Activity: Plan your search strategy

Complete the following activity to plan your search for keywords for your own assessment topic.