Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

BMS162 Research Skills Guide: Get Started

Topic Analysis

Analysing your assignment topic 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 instruction words tell you what you need to actually do. Charles Sturt University has a list of explanations for common instruction words.
  2. The key concept words direct you in what to research.
  3. The limiters/qualifying words tell you the specific focus of the topic or concept.

Your BMS162 Assignment question is:

Your aim for this assignment is to write a report that demonstrates you understand the physiological mechanisms regulating a specific physiological factor ...

  • You should include the significance of these mechanisms in maintaining body homeostasis and the common conditions that can occur when there is an alteration in your chosen physiological factor.
  • You will describe how this physiological factor, and changes in the factor, are specifically relevant to your chosen Allied Health discipline and how the knowledge of this is important to your future professional practice.


Instruction words Demonstrate [your understanding]; Include; Describe
Key concepts Physiological mechanisms regulating a physiological factor
Qualifying words/phrases
  • significance of these mechanisms in maintaining homeostasis
  • conditions when there is an alteration in the physiological factor
  • how this factor and changes in it are relevant to an Allied Health discipline

Search Techniques

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 limited options for searching. This is great for quick and general searching. 
  • Advanced search usually has multiple search boxes, options for the fields in which you search, and extra limiters. You can use Advanced Search to build quite complex searches, especially if you have more than one concept in your search.

Most databases will have a link to Advanced Search next to their Basic search option. (Primo Search has this too.)

Search operators

Use these to combine your search terms to specify exactly what you want to find. 

Search Operator Example
Use AND to retrieve results that contain both of your search terms. cortisol AND physiology
Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms. pathophysiology OR physiopathology


Other techniques

Use round brackets to specify how operators will be used in a complex search (adrenaline OR epinephrine) AND physiology
Use double quotation marks to search for a phrase "blood pressure"
Search for words with different endings by using the asterisk (*) physiolog* = physiology, physiological, physiologist, physiologically


Field searching 

Most databases - and Primo Search Advanced Search - allow you to specify which field you want to search. The most useful fields for general searching are title and subject.



Once you've searched, you can usually refine (filter) your results. This is useful if you want results only from a certain date range, or all in full-text, or you want only peer-reviewed articles. The refiners usually appear to the left of the results list. 

Topic analysis

Get better search results

An Actual Search

How might you translate all this into a search?

Keyword Alternative terms Actual line of search
cortisol hydrocortisone cortisol OR hydrocortisone
regulation control regulat* OR control*
homeostasis balance homeosta* OR balanc*

For more, see the pages in this guide on Primo Search and Databases.

Charles Sturt University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which its campuses are located, paying respect to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.

Charles Sturt University is an Australian University, TEQSA Provider Identification: PRV12018. CRICOS Provider: 00005F.