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CUS401 Research Skills Guide: Planning

Identifying what you need

identify imageIt is important to break down the requirements of your assessment task before you start searching for information so that you can plan your approach.

At this first stage, you need to work out:

  • what the assessment is asking you to do
  • how you are going to search for answers to the question

The best place to find this information is in your Subject Outline. You should carefully read all elements of the assessment information including:

  1. the task description,
  2. the rationale, and
  3. the marking rubric.

Reading through each element will highlight key terms or concepts that you are expected to demonstrate your knowledge of, and will also identify the types of information, or information sources, you are expected to use.

At first you may feel a little overwhelmed by all of the requirements. However, with some thought and planning, you can come up with a research plan that will suit your assessment tasks.

If you are confused or unsure about the assessment topic, please get in touch with your Subject Coordinator.

Topic Analysis

Let's start thinking about what terms you will use when searching for information. To do this:

  • Identify the key concepts of your topic (watch the topic analysis video for assistance); and then
  • Brainstorm as many synonyms and similar terms/phrases as you can.

This is a useful exercise because the language used to describe your topic may vary from source to source, and you don't want to miss out on a good source because it uses a different term to the one you are searching on.

From Assessment task 2, 3 and 4 some of the key concepts include:

  • customs administration
  • border management
  • roles and responsibilities
  • compliance management
  • regulatory frameworks, standards and agreements

Don't forget you are expected to discuss both  Australian and international perspectives, administrations and standards.


As you start working on each of your Assessment Tasks:

Write down the key concepts from your topic and have a go at brainstorming as many alternative keywords and phrases as possible.

Note:  In Assessment 3 you need to select a technology or processing initiative and in Assessment 4 you are comparing two countries (developed and developing). You will need to include keywords specific to your selections.

What type of information do I need?

When completing one or more of your assessment tasks you have been asked to identify and make reference to relevant:

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

The following pages will show you how to locate these types of resources using journal databases and the web.

Find additional keywords

Tip: Online dictionaries and thesauri can help you identify synonyms.

Find your definitions by searching Oxford Reference Online

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