Hi! My name is Jennifer, and I am your embedded librarian for this subject. This guide has been created to help you with your research for HCS406: Social Work and Human Rights. 

Each section in this guide 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 useful and relevant information. Use the activities on the Test Your Knowledge tab to see what you need to revise.

If you need a refresher on key Library skills, look at the SOC101 Research Skills Guide

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. Remember to always check the assessment task details in your Subject Outline.

Once you have an understanding of your task, you then need to plan how you will search for information. This starts with identifying and brainstorming keywords.

Here's an example, using keywords from your first assessment task: 

Keywords Synonyms or related terms
human rights civil rights, freedoms, natural rights, universal rights
social work  social welfare, social practice, social services

Also consider: does your task place any limits? These might be "in the last X years" or an Australian content.

For this task, you also need to include the following in your discussion: 

  • the three generations of human rights, including the strengths, limitations and implications of Vasak’s framework in understanding human rights
  • human rights theories
  • anti-oppressive social work theories.

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. 'ANZ Newsstream' and 'Factiva' will be useful particularly for the second assessment where you are required to discuss a human rights issue currently in the media:

The Humanities, Social Work & Human Services databases 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 your assessment topic, depending on your chosen area of focus, potential search strings could include:

  • "feminist theory" AND "social work" AND "human rights" 
  • ("social work" OR "social welfare" OR "social services") AND "human rights" AND Australia*
  • (refugee* OR "asylum seeker") AND "human rights" AND "social work"
  • (wom?n OR female) AND "human rights" AND "social work"

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

To understand how search operators work look at these resources:


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.

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!

Search skills demonstration

Watch this video for an overview of the library services and how to search for information.