Hi. I'm Toby, your embedded librarian and I've created this guide to help you with your research for CUS401. 

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 page to see what you need to revise.

Some of the skills on this page may be familiar to you from previous subjects. Read over the content below to refresh your skills, and if you're feeling confident in your searching ability take a look at the Extend your skills page for advanced search tips.

The examples below are drawn from your Assessment task description, however the skills and strategies can apply to any assessment where you need to demonstrate research skills and source relevant literature.

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.

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

Keywords Synonyms or related terms
customs administration customs regulation, customs office, customs management, border management, national security, border patrol, protection, agencies, boundaries
technology ICT, IT, computer technology, information technology
compliance management policy, operational practice, international standards...

Don't forget you are expected to discuss both Australian and international perspectives, administrations and standards. In Assessment 4 you are comparing two countries (developed and developing). You will need to include keywords specific to your selections.

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.
When completing your assessment tasks you have been asked to identify and make reference to relevant:

  • literature
  • statistics
  • case studies
  • international standards and agreements

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 database:

The Customs, Excise and Security has a collection of databases you can search.

For more recommendations check the Customs and Border Protection Library Resource Guide.


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.

Search operator Example
Use AND to retrieve results that contain both of your search terms. passenger AND processing
Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms. international OR domestic
Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results. customs NOT traditions
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase. "cargo clearance"
Group keywords, terms or phrases with parentheses to create complex searches. border (management OR control) AND Australia
Search for terms with different word endings using an asterisk.
manag* = manage, managed, managing, management
question mark can be used to replace a single letter within a word. analy?e = analyse, analyze


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.

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:

Search skills demonstration

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

You can download a PDF of the slide deck below.

Find additional keywords

Dictionaries and encyclopaedias can help you to find additional keywords and get an overview of the concept.

Keen for more?

If you're interested in learning more, check out the following: