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Ornithology Research Skills Guide: Understanding the question

Finding keywords

When starting your research, coming up with useful keywords can be difficult. Using a dictionary to find definitions can sometimes help the process by uncovering terms and synonyms.

Try typing the keywords 'foraging' or 'seasonal' into the Oxford Reference search box below and explore some of the entries. You might find some keywords or concepts you can use in your assessment tasks.

For example

The  important words within your assignment question can generally be separated into three categories:

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

    You have a better chance of finding information and answering your assignment question if you have a clear idea of the concept of your assignment. For example, let's take a close look at the following task: 

    Evaluate how seasonal changes affect the foraging behaviour of King Penguins. Specifically include Macquarie Island in your evaluation.

    Instruction words evaluate
    Key concepts; seasonal changes; foraging behaviour; King Penguins
    Qualifying words & phrases   Macquarie Island


    Topic analysis

    Try it now

    Read a couple of the entries for an overview of the concept, and see whether they suggest any alternate terms that you can use in your information searching.

    Find your definitions by searching Oxford Reference Online

    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.Acknowledgement of Country

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