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BIO216 Research Skills Guide


Hi. I'm Lyndall, your embedded librarian. This guide has been created to help you with your research for BIO216. 

Each section introduces the steps you should take when researching for an assessment. You'll find links to videos and resources that will give you the tools to find great information. If you would like an introduction to our Library website and services, check out:

Your textbook

Unpack your topic

A topic analysis will help you to clarify and understand what your assessment question is asking you to do.

Identify three key pieces of information in your assessment task by answering the following questions:

  1. What is the topic or concept that you need to research?
  2. Does your task place any limits? These might be "in the last X years", a geographical location or resource type etc.
  3. Which instruction word is used to indicate how to proceed with the task? 


Analyse how novel diseases are affecting Australian native species. Use peer-reviewed journal articles to corroborate your statements.

Instruction words Analyse
Key concepts native species
Qualifying words & phrases novel diseases, Australian, peer-reviewed journal articles

For guidance in topic analysis check out:

Brainstorm search terms

Keywords are the terms you'll search with to find relevant information in Primo Search and the library databases.

Start with the key concept words, then make a list of:

  • synonyms
  • spelling variations and
  • related terms or short phrases.

To find alternative search terms:

  • use a dictionary from Oxford Reference online to define your keywords and clarify your topic.
  • consider alternative spellings i.e. programme vs program.
  • review your search results for additional terms
  • note how your topic is described within the resources you read.
  • after running a search in Primo, review the terms under 'Topics' in the filter pane for alternative keywords. These terms will change as your search does.


Analyse how novel diseases are affecting Australian native species. Use peer-reviewed journal articles to corroborate your statements.

Keywords from the task Alternative terms
native species consider colloquial and scientific names for the specific species or ecosystems
novel  new, emerging, consider colloquial and scientific names for specific diseases
diseases pathogen, virus, viral
Australian Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Northern Territory, Tasmania

* Searches for Australia will yield results about South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. No need to add these as terms. 

Create a search strategy

When you search using Primo Search or a library database, use the keywords and limits you identified to create your search. Combine the keywords with "search operators", rather than searching with a whole sentence or question. Search operators tell Primo or the database how to search with your keywords.


Use Boolean Operators, phrase searching and parenthesis to combine search concepts.
Bilby AND "emerging disease"
"novel disease" AND "native species" AND
(Australia* OR "New South Wales" OR Queensland OR Victoria OR "Northern Territory" OR Tasmania)
("Myrtle Rust" OR "Austropuccinia psidii") AND "native species"

Remember: you will need to try a range of searches. Don't stop after just one.

Where to search

Primo Search

Primo Search is a good place to start as it allows you to use one search box to bring back results from most of our Library collection including books, eBooks, journal articles, newspaper articles and more.

You may get a large number of results and some of these will be from outside your subject/discipline area. Check the content is relevant to your assessment task before you use it

Library databases

Databases will help you find academic resources and are often subject-specific. You will get fewer results than Primo, but they will be more relevant to your subject/discipline. Journal databases are the best source of academic or scholarly information for your assessments. 

I recommend the following database from the Environmental Studies & Outdoor Recreation database page.

Some key journals include:



Using credible information will improve the quality of your assessment and may result in better marks, but how can you tell whether the resources you've found are credible and suitable for your assessment? Have you been asked to use peer reviewed or refereed articles? Are you using authoritative websites?

The information below will help you evaluate the information you find, in books, journal articles, or online to make sure it’s reliable.

Reading, writing and referencing

The Academic Skills team can help you to build your writing, referencing and reading skills to be successful at Charles Sturt.

Explore resources from the Academic Skills team in the Learning Skills section of the Student Portal.

Here are some pages to get you started:

Charles Sturt University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which its campuses are located, paying respect to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.Acknowledgement of Country

Charles Sturt University is an Australian University, TEQSA Provider Identification: PRV12018. CRICOS Provider: 00005F.