Hi! I'm Jess, your embedded librarian and I've created this guide to help you with your research for COM120. 

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. Use the activities on the test your knowledge tab to see what you need to revise.

If you would like an introduction to our Library website and how we can help you, check out: 

Getting started with your assessment

The first thing is to make sure you clearly understand the task and what topic you are seeking information for, this is called topic analysis. Check your assessment task details in your Subject Outline and the subject site. 

With an understanding of your task you then need to plan how you will search for information. This starts with identifying and brainstorming keywords.

Your assessment tasks for COM120 allow for some choice in topic. This means that you will need to carefully identify and consider keywords and synonyms to construct an effective library search. Your subject outline states that you will be presented with an ethical topic that will become the focus of an academic paper.

See my example brainstorms below - I have expanded each topic into its key elements (keywords) and then drawn out synonyms or related terms for each keyword. This will help me search for and find literature whether it has used the keywords, or framed the topic using slightly different language. 

Example topic Keywords Synonyms or related terms
Artificial intelligence and cheating 

Artificial intelligence 


AI, machine learning, ChatGPT, text generators 

Cheat, plagiarise, copy, infringement, academic misconduct 

Censorship or book banning in libraries 

Book censorship 


Prohibit / prohibition, restriction, banned book, banned literature

Library, school library, public library, academic library, librarians 

Also consider whether you need to refine your topic by applying limits. These might be "in the last X years" or Australian content. 

For guidance in topic analysis check out:

Choose the right place to search

Before you start searching, think about what types of information you need and where you can search to find those types of resources.

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. 

I recommend trying the following databases:


Learn how to search efficiently in Primo and Library databases:

Create a search strategy

When you search using Primo Search or a library database use the keywords and limits you identified above 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.

For our example topics above, potential search strings could include:

  • "artificial intelligence" AND "academic misconduct" 
  • ("artificial intelligence" OR AI OR "chatGPT" OR "text generator") AND (cheat* OR plagiaris* OR "academic misconduct")
  • chatGPT AND educat* AND (cheat* OR plagiaris*) 
  • (censor* OR ban*) AND book* AND librar*
  • censorhip AND librar* AND ethic* 

Remember: you will need to try a range of searches. Don't stop after just one. Remember to also consider the filters in the left menu; for example, literature on artificial intelligence should be current, so the date filter will be relevant in this search. 

To understand how search operators work check out:


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, academic 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.

Keen for more?

If you need one-on-one support, don't forget that you can book an appointment with a librarian, or an academic skills advisor. Look for 'Support Services' on the Student Portal. 

If you're interested in more self-paced learning or attending a live workshop, check out the following:

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:

Academic writing resources

Your prescribed text is available via your Interact 2 site or your Readings & Resources list. 

Above, you'll find some additional eBooks that may help you prepare for your assessment tasks and develop your academic writing skills. 

Follow the best practice in the video below to ensure you have access to what you need without disadvantaging other students in your subject.

Watch this video for an overview of the library services and how to search for information.