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Search skills

The first step in any search is to have a clear understanding about what it is you are being asked to research, write about, or answer.

It is often helpful to consider:

What is the focus of the question?
What is your understanding of this topic?



Putting this into practice: Example 1

You have been given the following essay question to write about:

How has England's relationship with Australia changed since 1945?

What is the focus of the question?

We might say it is as simple as saying: England and Australia’s relationship changed post 1945. But we need to be more specific. What element(s) of the relationship is the focus? For example, is it political, economical, anthropological, etc.


What is your understanding of this topic/focus?

You may need to consult some background material, such as encyclopaedias or general works to help you. Your answers may depend on the context in which the question is being asked. For example, you may be studying military history, or perhaps law. This will affect your perspective.

Putting this into practice: Example 2

 

Topic: "Many experts in the information technology field believe that it is impossible to try to develop effective protection against computer viruses because detection always lags behind the development of viruses. Discuss."

 

What is your understanding of this topic/focus?

In this example we have been given a statement and asked to discuss. We still want to identify the focus of the topics and our understanding of them, but this is often harder to pick out of a statement. If your topic is hard to analyse, it can help to rephrase it as a question.

 

Phrased as a question, this could become:

"Can effective protection against computer viruses be developed?"

This makes it much easier to recognise the key concepts and focus of the discussion, e.g. developing effective protection against computer viruses.

 

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