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HRM210 Research Skills Guide: Plan your search

Where to start researching?

You may like to start by looking up information through Charles Sturt University databases listed on the following pages, to get some authoritative background information or profiles on a company.

The EBSCO Host database Business Source Complete provides company profiles and some large companies have company SWOT analysis reports already prepared by MarketLine. The IBIS World database provides a range of information on the 2000 largest Australian and New Zealand companies that includes key personnel, segments and industries that could help to formulate your PEST analysis. The Factiva database provide company snapshots as well as links to the latest media reports about the company.

To gain information about a company's mission statement and values, you may need to look at the company's own information on the web. Remember that any information you find, in particular internet information, will need to be thoroughly evaluated using the C.R.A.P test. See the Evaluation tab for more information.

Once again you can use the Library's databases to assist you find journal articles about human resource research written by academics or experts to help support your arguments. Using Primo Search can also help you to find Books and eBooks as a background or overview of your topic.

Common Search Tips

There are a number of techniques you can use while searching to get better and more relevant results.

Basic and advanced search

Basic search usually involves one search box, with a few options about searching a specific collection or field. This is great for general searching. When you have multiple keywords or complex search queries, using Advanced search can be helpful. This usually involves several different boxes for your different keywords, built-in search operators, and more options for field searching and limiters.

Most databases will have a link to Advanced Search next to their Basic search option. Advanced Search in Google Scholar is accessible from the menu.

Search operators

Use these with your keywords to refine your searches and specify exactly what you want to find. These are most useful in journal databases and Primo Search. (Some of them won't work as well in Google Scholar.)

Search Operator Example
Use AND to retrieve results that contain both of your search terms. HRM AND "soft approach"
Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms. soft OR humanistic
Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results. intelligence NOT articifial
Group terms or equivalent keywords with parentheses to create complex searches. (personnel management OR HRM) AND humanistic
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase "hard HRM"
Search for terms with different word endings using an asterisk. manag* = manage, managed, managing, management
A question mark can be used to replace a single letter within a word. analy?e = analyse, analyze

Field searching and limiters

Most databases will allow you to specify which field you want to search. Common fields include author, title, dates, and subject headings/topic, and these are usually available in both basic and advanced search. 

Once you've searched, you can also limit your results by some of these fields. This is extremely useful if you want all of your articles to have been published within a certain date range, or for them all to be peer-reviewed. Look for these in the menus beside your search results. 

Get better search results

Proximity Searching

A proximity search forces a database to find results where one search term appears within a certain number of words of another search term. The proximity operator varies according to the database. 

Examples from an EBSCOhost database:  

employability N3 higher education  (N=near) This will find results where employability is within 3 words of higher education in any order

employability W3 higher education (W=within) This will find results where employability is within 3 words of higher education  in the order in which you entered the search terms