Breaking down your assignment topic will help you with your research and keep you on target to answer the assignment question
Determine your topic keywords
Develop a search strategy
Task words are usually verbs and they tell you what to do to complete your assignment. As you research and write your assignment, check these words occasionally to make sure you are still doing what you have been asked to do.
Don't try to use them in your research - they aren't things to find, only things to do.
The task words in our sample question are summarise and discuss.
So, you would need to briefly explain what handwashing is and then evaluate some different handwashing strategies.
Content words are the main ideas and concepts in the question. You can use them in your search and to generate similar and related search terms.
The content words in our sample question are handwashing or handwashing regime, methods and public health.
You may or may not choose to use methods as a search term as leaving it out will still return results that include methods, however you may wish to include it to focus your search if you are getting too many results. The word "methods" is likely to be too generic, anyway. A much better approach would be to brainstorm actual methods and use those for your search terms, rather than the word "methods"
You probably won't use public health as a search term, as the question instructs you to research one industry within public health. Check what these areas are using the Limiting Words tab. But think about related terms like "viruses" that can be more applicable.
Limiting words allow you to focus on a particular aspect of the topic, and prevent your search from being too general and unwieldy.
The limiting words in the sample question are hospitality, child care, patient care. You are asked to choose only one industry from this list. You would include one of these as a search term.
You should also limit your research to appropriate handwashing methods. You won't include appropriate as a search term but you could use a similar term like effective.
Context words or sentences provide the setting or background for your research question.
In our example, the first sentence provides context - Handwashing has been shown to dramatically reduce the spread of viruses.
You may or may not choose to include context words in your search. For example, you could include virus or infection control as part of your search string, or you could simply keep the context in mind when selecting relevant articles.
It is easy to get distracted and go off on tangents when doing your research. Refer to the context words to help keep your focus where it should be.
Before you can successfully search catalogues, databases and the Internet you will need to develop a good search strategy.
This involves the following steps:
Click across the tabs on this box to explore the basic building blocks of constructing a good search.
Before we begin searching, we need to make sure we have already come up with the appropriate keywords to use. Keywords are identified when we unpack the question which form the main ideas and concepts for our research.
Keywords will help us find the information we are looking for. If you still have to come up with your keywords, head to Defining Your Topic module, to help you get started.
TIP: Keep an eye out for new keywords once you begin searching.
Boolean Operators are the words AND, OR and NOT. When these words are used between keywords in a search string, results are more relevant to your topic which will save you time.
Trucation is a way to efficiently broaden your searches and saves you time.
To truncate a keyword is to remove the ending of the word and add an asterisk (*) in its place. Be sure to end the word at the most appropriate place so to retrieve relevant and useful results.
Tip: Be careful where you insert the asterisk (*)
Too soon in the word can retrieve irrelevant results
Too late in the word can miss useful results
Phrase searching is a powerful, easy to use tool that will save you time.
When keywords are a phrase (combination of two or more words), use "quotation" marks to lock them together. This will ensure that the search results will find information related to those words combined, in that same order and not search for each word individually.
Search strings are a combination of your keywords, truncation and boolean operators. An effective search string can save you time by returning accurate results faster.
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