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SOC101 Library Research Skills Guide: Plan your approach

What are you being asked to do?

In this assignment you are being asked to demonstrate your understanding of how society and social institutions operate and an ability to critically evaluate contemporary issues and problems from a sociological perspective.

For example, Assessment Item 3 asks you to: 

  • Choose ONE historical or contemporary 'social movement'
  • Conduct independent research to locate 5x scholarly resources and 1x media resource about the social movement
  • Structure the information you've found as an essay.

For comprehensive instructions, you MUST view your Subject Outline. Make sure you have a very clear understanding of what you're being asked to do. If you're unsure, ask your lecturer.

Where should you start?

1. Reading the Subject Outline thoroughly!
Your Subject Outline has information about the type of resources you need to locate, how to reference them and guidance about how to format your essay. Locate your Subject Outline in the left navigation menu of your subject site.

2. Review the module material in your SOC101 subject site.
The module content will help to inform your knowledge of social institutions, social categories and social theory. Refer back to previous subject readings if you need to.

3. Utilise this SOC101 Research Skills Guide.
Research requires planning, time and perseverance. This SOC101 Research Skills Guide contains tips to help make this process easier. Engage with the content in this guide by watching the video demonstrations and trying the activities.

The skills in this guide will help to make the research process easier. You will even be able to apply these skills to every research assessment you complete at university!

What type of resources do you need to locate?

You are asked to use and cite:

5x scholarly resources.
At least one will be a reading set for this topic. Work through this guide for advice on conducting effective research and evaluating information to locate scholarly resources.

1x piece of media.
Refer to the Use Journal Databases page in this guide for information about locating and using the Library's media databases. 

Charles Sturt Library to conduct research.
Along with using the information in this guide, the Library's Online Library Workshops will help you develop your research skills. Come along to a live session or watch the recordings on our website. 

Plan your approach

Planning your approach from the outset can keep your research focused and save you time. Below is an example of the steps you might take to conduct your research.

Keep in mind that the research process is not linear so you might find yourself moving backwards and forwards between these stages as you go along. This is why it's important to leave enough time to conduct your research.


1. Understand the Assessment Task.
Refer to your Subject Outline and your topic modules for clarity. 

2. Undertake a Topic Analysis. 
Taking a few minutes to consider what information you need to locate is a very useful exercise. Brainstorm a list of keywords you might try in Primo Search. Consider any synonyms or related terms too.

3. Conduct background research.
Seek general information on your topic first to develop your understanding. Write down other keywords you discover. Combine your keywords with search techniques to refine your results.

4. Conduct more targeted research. 
Conduct independent library research to locate scholarly resources. The Find tab will help you use Primo Search, the Library databases and Google Scholar to do this.

5. Evaluate the resources you use. 
Evaluating information is a critical skill. The CRAP Test evaluation framework will assist you to evaluate the resources you locate to ensure they are scholarly. Use Ulrichs Web Global Serials Directory to determine whether an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal.