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Business Studies: 1. Understand your question

Understanding your task

Before you start your research you need to understand the requirements of your assessment task. This is called a Topic Analysis, and will help you when you to plan your approach to your search for information.

The best place to find your assessment information is your Subject Outline. You should carefully read all elements of the assessment information available. 

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

Let's start thinking about what terms you will use when searching for information. To do this:

  • Identify the key concepts of your topic (we call this a Topic Analysis) and then
  • Brainstorm as many synonyms and similar terms/phrases as you can.

This is a useful exercise because the language used to describe your topic may vary from source to source, and you don't want to miss out on a good source because it uses a different term to the one you are searching on. A topic analysis also helps you clarify and understand what the assessment question is asking you to do.

This resource shows you how to Develop a Search Strategy (from Monash University).

In your assessment you will generally be given three key pieces of information:

  • The key topic or concept words direct you in what to research.
  • The limits or qualifiers tell you the specific focus of the topic or concept.
  • The task or instruction terms tell how you are to deal with the content.

You will develop a list of keywords you can then use for searching.

Subject specific dictionaries and encyclopedias can help to define terms and find related terms see the Accounting, Economics & FinanceManagement and leadership and Project Management Library Resource Guides for links to resources. Charles Sturt has a list of explanations for common instruction words too.

Use the key concepts - or keywords - to start searching Primo Search and the library databases. For help using the keywords jump to the Plan Your Search page. Then use the Find Scholarly Information drop down menu for specific instructions and links.

Topic analysis video

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.

Library Word Meanings

Common Library Words is an explanation and translation of words and phrases you might come across when using the Library or the Library's resources.

Created by the University of Newcastle Library, it includes translations of these words into Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Arabic.

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