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ITC105 Research Skills Guide: Identify & plan

Identifying what you need

Planning an effective search strategy can save you time and retrieve more relevant results.

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

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.

Topic Analysis

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:

  1. The key topic or concept words direct you in what to research.
  2. The limits or qualifiers tell you the specific focus of the topic or concept.
  3. The task or instruction terms tell how you are to deal with the content. Check this list of explanations for common instruction words.

Your ITC105 Assessment 2/3 requires you to prepare and write a report on one of the following topics:

  • Mobile Phones in High School
  • Companion and Service Animals
  • Occupational Health & Safety

From your assessment task descriptions in your Subject Outline we can identify the following:

Instruction words write, review, research, paraphrase, argue, recommend
Qualifying words & phrases last 3 years
Key concepts

mobile phones, smartphone, mobile computing, iPhone, high school, secondary school, students, teenagers

companion animal, service animal, human-animal interaction, animal assisted therapy

occupational health & safety, OH&S, industrial safety, safety and security measure, workers

As part of these tasks you are expected to find and use:

  • three journal articles from the Library's databases, published within the last 3 years
  • three (or more) additional articles (media articles, magazines, newspapers, reports, etc) from the Library databases or from Google. These can be older than 3 years.


Please note: As ChatGPT isn't part of the Library's resource collection we won't address that component of your Assessment.  See your lecturer and Academic Skills for direction in relation to this part of the Assessment.

Topic analysis

Find additional keywords

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

Oxford Reference Online is a huge repository of subject-specific dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and other reference-type material.


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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