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JST311 Research Skills Guide: Plan

Identifying what you need

identify imageIt is important to break down the requirements of your assessment task before you start searching for information so that you can plan your approach.

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

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

  1. the task description,
  2. the rationale, and
  3. the marking rubric.

Reading through each element will highlight key terms or concepts you are expected to demonstrate your knowledge of, and will also identify the types of information, or information sources, you are expected to use.

At first you may feel a little overwhelmed by all of the requirements. However, with some thought and planning, you can come up with a research plan that will suit your assessment tasks.

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

A topic analysis 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 key topic or concept words direct you in what to research.
  2. The limits or qualifiers tell you the specific focus of the topic or concept.
  3. The task or instruction terms tell how you are to deal with the content.CSU has a list of explanations for common instruction words.

Your JST311 Assessment 3, Essay One question is:

The exclusion of evidence is a significant factor in the failure of many criminal trials. The reasons for this are varied and include, but are not limited to; a failure in policing practice brought about by a misunderstanding of the law, a failure to follow, or oversight of relevant policy or extant direction, deficiencies in training, equipment and technical devices, or a combination of these factors.

It can be argued that the exclusion of evidence at trial is a failing by investigators to do the right thing, but is this always the case? Are there circumstances where the exclusion of evidence is brought about for other reasons?
In your essay, using appropriate case studies to support your argument:

  1. Explain why an ethical investigation is an integral part of the Criminal Justice process.
  2. Identify how and what safeguards can be applied to investigations pre-trial to minimise the risk of evidence being excluded at trial.
  3. You are required to apply the law and relevant policy/principles relating to the exclusion of evidence citing legislation applicable to your jurisdiction where appropriate.

Note: Please refer to your subject outline for the complete details of your assessment task.

Instruction words explain, identify, apply
Qualifying words & phrases your jurisdiction
Key concepts exclusion of evidence, criminal trials, policing practice, ethical investigation


Write down the key concepts from your topic and have a go at brainstorming as many alternative keywords and phrases as possible.

Thinking about your topic in this way forces you to describe your topic in "other words", which will provide you with some useful keyword alternatives as well as help you to cement your understanding of the topic.

Topic analysis

Find additional keywords

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