Hi. I'm Sandra, your embedded librarian and I've created this guide to help you with your research for SCI101. 

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.

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

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

Your SCI101 assessment task requires you to choose your topic from one of 4 topics. For the sake of demonstration, we we will focus on a hypothetical task:

Write an essay that discusses the use of vaccination to control infectious disease. Include in your essay the scientific basis for the efficacy of good vaccination programs. You must also present an accurate perspective of the ethical issues associated with vaccination programs and potential alternative medical controls.

Keywords Synonyms or related terms

inoculation, immunization, vaccine, vaccination programs

infectious disease infection, virus, disease, illness
ethical issues standards, moral, principles
efficacy effectiveness, success, benefit, advantage

What are the instruction words for your task? Have you been asked to describe or identify or discuss? The Common instruction words guide below may help. Does your task place any limits? What is the specific focus of the topic or concept? In assessment two, you have been asked to discuss an example of a real business, either a place you have worked at or a workplace you are aware of.

For guidance in topic analysis check out:

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 potential search strings could include:

  • vaccin* AND "infectious disease*"
  • vaccin* AND "infectious disease*" AND (efficac* OR effectiveness)
  • vaccin* AND "infectious disease*" AND (efficac* OR effectiveness) NOT animal
  • vaccin* AND program AND efficac* 
  • "vaccin* program" AND "infectious disease*" 

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

To understand how search operators work 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.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar allows you to locate resources such as articles, theses and books.

Unlike Primo Search, which is set to search the Library's holdings only, Google Scholar searches beyond Charles Sturt University Library and will include resources that are not available to you.

Set up library links to access the Library's online resources using these instructions.

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:

Learn how to search efficiently in Primo and Library databases:


The Science list has more databases you can search.


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:

Highly recommended text

Good news!

Your highly recommended text is available online through the library!

However access to this book is limited. Follow the best practice in the video below to ensure you have access to what you need without disadvantaging other students in your subject.

Keen for more?

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