Hi! I'm Jess, your embedded librarian and I've created this guide to help you with your research for HCS102: Communication and Human Services. 

Each section introduces the steps you should take when researching for an assessment. You'll find links to videos and resources that will give you the tools to find great information. Use the activities on the 'Test your knowledge' tab to see what you need to revise.

If you would like an introduction to our Library website and how we can help you, check out: 

Getting started with your assessment

The first thing is to make sure you clearly understand the task and what topic you are seeking information for, this is called topic analysis. Check your assessment task details in your Subject Outline. Also remember to carefully examine the marking criteria for the task. 

With an understanding of your task you then need to plan how you will search for information. This starts with identifying keywords, and then brainstorming synonyms or related terms to help build your search string. Below, you'll see an example brainstorm. See the section Create a search strategy to understand the next step in joining together these brainstormed words to create an effective search. 

For your second assessment task, you are asked to complete a presentation about an issue that falls within the area of human services. Let's take for example, the issue of youth homelessness. 

Keywords Synonyms or related terms
youth adolescent, young person, teen, teenager, young adult 
homelessness  homeless, couch surfing, sleeping rough, houseless 

Once you've brainstormed keywords and synonyms, also consider, does your task place any limits? These might be "in the last X years" or Australian content. We will add these into our search string later to narrow down our results to the most relevant content. 

For guidance in topic analysis check out:

Choose the right place to search

Before you start searching, think about what types of information you need and where you can search to find those types of resources.

Primo Search

Primo Search is a good place to start as it allows you to use one search box to bring back results from most of our Library collection including books, eBooks, journal articles, newspaper articles and more. You may get a large number of results and some of these will be from outside your subject/discipline area. Check the content is relevant to your assessment task before you use it.

Library databases

Databases will help you find academic resources and are often subject specific. You will get fewer results than Primo, but they will be more relevant to your subject/discipline. 

I recommend trying the following databases:

The Humanities, Social Work & Human Services list has more databases you can search.


Learn how to search efficiently in Primo and Library databases:

Create a search strategy

When you search using Primo Search or a library database use the keywords and limits you identified above to create your search. Combine the keywords with "search operators", rather than searching with a whole sentence or question. Search operators tell Primo or the database how to search with your keywords.

For the example assessment topic described above, potential search strings could include:

  • "youth homelessness" AND Australia* 
  • (youth OR adolescen* OR teen* OR "young person" OR "young adult") AND homeless* 
  • (youth OR adolescen* OR teen*) AND (homeless* OR "couch surfing" OR "sleeping rough") 
  • (youth OR adolescen* OR teen*) AND homeless* AND ("social work" OR "human services") AND Australia* 

Remember: you will need to try a range of searches. Don't stop after just one.

To understand how search operators work check out:


Using credible information will improve the quality of your assessment and may result in better marks, but how can you tell whether the resources you've found are credible and suitable for your assessment? Have you been asked to use peer reviewed, academic or refereed articles? Are you using authoritative websites?

The information below will help you evaluate the information you find, in books, journal articles, or online to make sure it’s reliable.

Keen for more?

If you're interested in finding out more, check out the following:

Reading, writing and referencing

The Academic Skills team can help you to build your writing, referencing and reading skills to be successful at Charles Sturt.

Explore resources from the Academic Skills team in the Learning Skills section of the Student Portal.

Here are some pages to get you started:

Your textbook

Good news!

Your textbook is available online through the library!

However access to your textbook is limited. Please access & download what you need ahead of assessment tasks. The video below shows you how to do this and includes other useful eBook skills. 

Watch these videos for an overview of essential library skills and how to search for information for your assessments.