Bachelor of Dermal Sciences: Overview

About this Guide

This guide will introduce you to physical and online resources. It will also help you to develop a search strategy to locate useful material to complete assessment tasks.

Steps to a successful assignment

1.  Collect all your information about the assignment

  • the handout on the assignment (due date, word limit, formatting, presentation, marking rubric)
  • the type of resources required for your Reference List, e.g. books, journal articles
  • notes from classes on how to do the assignment

​2.  Analyse and prepare

  • read your notes and class readings for direction
  • do a mind map on the topic- use questions to expand the ideas and knowledge you already have
  • do some preliminary research to expand your ideas
  • from your mind map, write some points grouped under general headings (see the free mind map software)
  • where there are gaps in information (or more detail or examples are needed), write down some questions that you can research
  • identify keywords and alternative search terms and search the Library for additional resources, e.g. books, journal articles (see the video in this guide on searching for journal articles). If you can't think of any synonyms or related terms yourself, try searching a thesaurusdictionary or encyclopaedia. For search strategies, check this content.
  • write a plan for your essay 
  • what information do you already have? What further information do you need?

3.  Read for Information

  • read Required Reading and make notes
  • read the additional articles etc., for information not in the Required Reading,
  • prepare each Reference as you read it, and ensure it is written in the APA referencing style. See the APA referencing guide for further assistance

4.  Start writing

  • collect notes from your reading and start to build your essay
  • write the correct References for each of your readings for your Reference List

For more tips on writing better university assignments, check here

Keywords and search tips for finding information

Watch this video to learn how to identify keywords when searching for information on a topic

Successful keyword searching requires applying search techniques such as using operators to join search terms, specific phrases or relevant word variations. Use the tabs at the top of the panel to explore them.

The three most commonly used operators are ANDOR and NOT.   They can broaden or narrow your set of results and exclude unwanted search terms and concepts.

For example:

AND will narrow your search returning results that contain all of your search terms 

poverty AND homelessness

OR will broaden your search returning results that contain any but not all of your search terms. It is useful for finding synonyms or where different words are of equal value in your search 

poverty OR low income OR poor

NOT will narrow your search by eliminating words from your search results. It should be used with care as it can easily exclude relevant results.

homelessness NOT mental health

To search for two or more words in exact order, place double quotation marks " " around the words. The database will only return articles containing that specific phrase rather than articles containing each word found individually anywhere in the text.


The phrase "low-income groups"   will retrieve articles with all words as you typed them in with no other words in between.   

Truncation is also known as stemming, is a technique that broadens your search to include alternative word endings and spellings.

To use truncation, enter the root of a word and put the truncation symbol * at the end.
The database will return results that include any ending of that root word.
For example:
child* = child, child's, children, children's, childhood

It is important not to shorten the root too much as it may retrieve too many irrelevant results. For example chil*  will bring up childless, chiller, chilly, and Chile.

Writing Skills e-Books

Acknowledgement of Country

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Ancestors, Elders and families of the Kulin Nation (Melbourne campuses), the Eora Nation (Sydney campus) and the Yulara/Yugarapul and Turrbal Nation (Brisbane campus) who are the traditional owners of University land. As we share our own knowledge practices within the University, may we pay respect to the deep knowledge embedded within the Aboriginal community and recognise their ownership of Country.

We acknowledge that the land on which we meet, learn, and share knowledge is a place of age-old ceremonies of celebration, initiation and renewal, and that the Traditional Owners living culture and practices have a unique role in the life of this region. Learn more from our Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Unit.


     This content is licensed to Victoria University under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.