Why do university students need to learn basic academic research skills?

Are you a university student?

Are you preparing to study at university for the first time in social work, social welfare, community welfare, nursing or an allied health course?

Are you aware that you will need to have acquired skills in researching, analysis and writing essays as part of the requirements for obtaining your degree?

These are the core academic literacy skills you will need to master as part of your development as a competent and qualified health professional.

Even more importantly, developing these three core skills will help to improve your chances of being successful at your program of study and being offered a position once you graduate. In addition, these kinds of skills can help to set you apart from other candidates.


Why do some university students find studying at the university level challenging?

Being accepted to study at university is the easy part.

Many students underestimate the amount of effort needed when embarking on an ‘academic career’. The key word here is ‘career’ because, as fulltime students, you’re expected to approach your study as your primary job.

Often, however, you may find it difficult to juggle study with other competing interests such as part time work, family and relationships, as well as your general health and well-being.

As the pressure to perform well at university and to balance all of the other responsibilities outside of study build, you can start to feel overwhelmed and struggle to keep up with the competing demands.

If you aren’t sure how to research, analyse and write in the way that is expected at university, things can start to fall apart.

To cope you may start taking shortcuts, retrieving whatever you can find on Google and hastily putting together information that may not necessarily answer the question set. Finally, you will end up submitting work that is difficult for your lecturer to understand.

The result is a series of poor grades. You may even become disheartened.

You may say to yourself, ‘Next time, I will do better. I will be better prepared.’

The problem is that, if you have not developed the necessary skills that would save them time in the long term, this process becomes a vicious cycle.

The key is for you to ‘work smarter, not harder’.


What research skills are expected of students studying social work, nursing or one of the allied health professions?

If you are a student of social work, nursing or an allied health profession, you need to develop basic research skills.

This involves learning how to research the following databases for your essays and written assignments:

When searching these databases, many students apply the same techniques they use when searching on Google.

If your research skills don’t extend beyond this level, you may end up with a huge pile of material that may or may not be relevant to what you’re doing. As a result, you may be unsure about what to do next.

When you are researching an essay or assignment, you want to be as systematic and efficient as possible. As a student, you are pressed for time. You don’t have days or weeks available to trawl through pages and pages of results trying to work out what is and isn’t relevant to your research.

While Google Scholar always throws up a lot of records, there are techniques you can use to refine your searches and make them more focused.

Databases such as CINAHL, EBSCO and ProQuest (which you can access via your university account) work on Boolean logic. This means that you can be highly strategic in your searching and focus on the question that you’re being asked to explore in the essay or assignment.


How I can help you to research more efficiently and effectively?

I can teach you systematic and logical research techniques that, in a very short time, will make you not only more effective, but also more efficient, in the way you search for material.


Learning how to research is an important life skill

Research skills aren’t useful only for your university studies. They’re useful and important life skills. As a health professional, you may be called upon to provide staff presentations, attend conferences or write case studies or research papers. Having the ability to retrieve relevant information using electronic databases will help you succeed in delivering the most relevant information in an efficient manner. 

Are you a university or post-graduate student? Do you need help in developing or refining your research skills? Give me a call on +61 (0)438 611 251 or email me at so we can discuss how I can help you.