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International Relations

Thinking about your topic

Take some time to make sure that you understand your assignment question.

It can be helpful to highlight the keywords in the question and to think about the wider concepts that are relevant to the topic. These keywords and concepts will help you search for information.

For example, your essay question may be:

What are the main points of difference between Realist and Liberal approaches to explaining the causes of war and peace?


Keywords Realist Liberal War and peace
Alternatives Political realism Liberalism Causes of war or Causes of peace

And by combining your keywords you will increase the relevance of your search results.

Example; realist AND Liberalism AND causes of war.

Use the Advanced search function in MultiSearch and it will look like this

Think about the research you will do

Ask Yourself:

  • What do you already know about the topic?
  • Are there parts of the topic that you need to learn about?
  • How much information do you need?
  • What information has already been provided? e.g. in lectures and course readings
  • Has your lecturer provided you with any guidelines? e.g. word length, referencing style, types of sources you need to use

How recent?

Do you need current information, a historical overview or a combination of both?

What type of sources?

  • Australian or international sources or both?
  • Newspaper articles or websites?
  • Data or statistics?
  • Books or journal articles or both?
  • Peer-reviewed articles? Peer-reviewed articles are known as scholarly or refereed articles. They have been reviewed by subject specialist researchers working in the academic community.

You might think differently about your topic once you start researching it. This is normal. Just redefine your topic as you go and adjust your search strategies.