Planning an effective search strategy can save you time and retrieve more relevant results
At this first stage, you need to work out:
If you are confused or unsure about the assessment topic, ask your lecturer or tutor who will be happy to talk it through with you.
A topic analysis will help you to clarify and understand what your assessment question is asking you to do.
You will generally be given three key pieces of information:
Once you've broken your topic down into parts, it will be easier to work out what information you need to search for.
Here is an example of the topic analysis process, using a question adapted from Assessment 2:
Imagine that you have been working in your current position for three months in a State library. Your manager has asked you to prepare a report to bring to your probation meeting to demonstrate your understanding of the sector in which your organisation exists. Write your report introducing the sector, addressing:
Some of the keywords you might identify from this question include:
Demonstrate your understanding
|Key concepts||History of the sector
Current state of the sector
Role of information and knowledge within the sector
Professional roles and stakeholders
|Limits||State library sector|
Before you start searching, you should analyse your topic a little further to identify search terms.
It's important to brainstorm all possible aspects of the topic, to find key words and phrases to use in Primo or journal databases. You also need to think about synonyms and alternatives for words, as well, to broaden your search.
A few possible examples include:
|Key concept||Key search words and phrases|
|State library sector||State library, state libraries, state librar*
State government library, state library service, [names of specific libraries e.g. the State Library of NSW]
|History of the sector||History, origin, founding, foundation, development, change, cultural change, landmarks, milestones|
|Current state of the sector||Recent OR current
Trend*, development*, technology, politics, change
Collections, research, projects
You should try different combinations of these words and phrases with other limiters while searching, to find relevant books and articles. You need to experiment with which combinations produce the best results.
See the Search Strategies page for search tips and tools, and the Find section for more information about information resources.
Dictionaries and encyclopaedias can help you to find additional keywords and get an overview of the concept.
In the Oxford Reference search box below, enter some of the keywords you've identified from your assessment question and note down any alternate keywords that you find.
Write down the key concepts from your topic and have a go at brainstorming as many alternative keywords and phrases as possible.
Thinking about your topic in this way forces you to describe your topic in "other words", which will provide you with some useful keyword alternatives as well as help you to cement your understanding of the topic.
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