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Library - Learning + Information skills: Step 1 - Question - Define your search

Keys to success Questioning Finding Selecting Creating Evaluating

Where to begin

STEP 1:   Question    

 What am I being asked to do?

 What are the keywords of the task? (Highlight)

 What information do I need?

What do I need clarified?

(Highlight) Instructional words

Do I need new IT skills to fulfill the task? (ask now)

What learning is being tested - for example - what have I already learned about in mathematics.

If there are any words you don't understand or need to be explained ask your teacher.

Refer to the Instructional words explanations

Question words

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6 W Questions

Instructional words - Highlight these


Show the essence of something by breaking it down into its component parts and examining each part in detail.


Present the case for and against a particular proposition.


Look for similarities and differences between propositions.


Place the two propositions in opposition in order to show the differences between them.


Give your judgement about the merit of theories or opinions about the truth or facts, and back your judgement by a discussion of evidence.


Set down the precise meaning of a word or phrase.  Show that the distinctions implied in the definition are necessary.


Give a detailed or graphic account of the characteristics of the subject.


Show the difference between two things by determining their distinctions.


Investigate or examine by argument, sift and debate, giving reasons for and against.


List or specify and describe one by one.


Make an appraisal of the worth of something, in the light of its apparent truth or utility.  Include your personal opinion, supported by evidence.


Make clear, interpret, and account for in detail.


Thoroughly inquire into a topic by examining and analysing every aspect of it.


Explain and make clear by the use of concrete examples or by the use of figure diagrams.


Bring out the meaning of, and make clear and explicit; usually also giving your own judgement.


Search, study and carefully survey all areas of the subject.


Defend or show adequate grounds for decisions or conclusions.


Give the main points or general principles of a subject, omitting minor details, and emphasising structure and relationship.


Demonstrate truth or falsity by presenting evidence.


Narrate or show how things are connected to each other and to what extent they are alike or affect each other.


Make a survey of, examining the subject critically.


Specify details fully and clearly.


Give a concise account of the chief points or substance of a matter, omitting details and examples.


Identify and describe the development or course of history of a topic from some point or origin.


To search effectively you need a clear understanding of the topics you want to search for. Here's an example question:

"Is Obesity associated with insulin resistance in teenagers?"

1. Break the question down into the key topics you need to search for:

"Is Obesity associated with insulin resistance in teenagers?"

2. Try and think of alternative words and phrases (synonymous)

University of Dundee

Why ask Questions


What am I being asked to do?

What are the keywords of the task?

What information do I need?

Do I need new IT skills to fulfil the task? (ask now)

Have I review the marking criteria? (so I know how to allot my time)


Always ask questions if you don't understand

When you get an assignment read it completely. If you have any questions ask the teacher straight away. Another student will be glad you asked.