Health: HLTH 1029: Foundations of Health

Foundations of Health: Academic paper

This workshop will get you started finding resources and writing Assessment 1: Academic paper. You should use a range of quality sources to support the argument that you are presenting in your essay. These might include books, journal articles and reputable web sites. 

Before you start

  • Read all the information on Assessment 1 in your Course Guide and LearnOnline site
  • Read the Assignment Feedback Sheet
  • Scan the Frequently Asked Questions section in your Course Guide. There are really useful tips here about what your lecturers and tutors are looking for when they are marking your assessments!

Your essay title and instructions (taken from your Course Guide)

World Health Organisation (WHO) issue – a critical comparison across two countries

This assignment should demonstrate your ability to find information, analyse it critically, reference it correctly and write well. The essay title is very broad – you will need to narrow it down to a particular health issue. A list of WHO health topics can be found at For example, with the topic of Food Safety, you could narrow the topic to surveillance, contamination or prevention in the two countries of choice.

Steps to get you started

  1. Choose any health topic of interest
  2. Choose 2 countries
  3. Create a title to identify your topic and countries of comparison
  4. Meet the following expectations and assignment format
  1. Find the task word(s). These words tell you what kind of job or thinking you need to do (e.g. compare, discuss, outline, explain).
  2. Find the content words in the task. These words indicate the 'what' – the content area that you will be thinking about
  3. Find the limits, e.g.:
    • Are there limiting words like 'in Australia' or 'in the hospital sector' or 'in the last 5 years'?
    • How much time do you have to produce it?
    • How long does it have to be?
    • Are there any particular instructions about the resources you should use?
    • What percentage of your course is it worth?
  4. Make a 'guesstimate plan' using the word limit.

Suggested analysis for this assignment

World Health Organisation (WHO) issue – a critical comparison across two countries

1. Find the task word(s)

    • Note the use of the word 'critically'. What does this mean? This is not just about listing the similarities and differences. You need to analyse the information about the two countries in more depth.

2. Find the content words in the task. You can find these by taking the task word and adding the question 'What?'

  • CRITICALLY COMPARE WHAT? – a World Health Organisation issue
    • Try to think beyond the obvious when choosing your World Health Organisation issue. If you think more creatively, it may lead you to interesting discussions and research. Choose a topic from the WHO site and think about how you can narrow the focus.

3.  Find the limits

  • Limiting words: Compare TWO countries – How will you choose which two countries to focus on? As you are reading about your chosen topic, notice which countries are mentioned or researched in the literature. Which countries are you interested in? Which countries have a lot of information that you can use to support your ideas?
  • Time limit: Check your due date – How much time do you have to research, think, plan and write the assignment?
  • Word count limit: 1,500 words in length – How much detail and analysis will you be able to go into in your paper?
  • Limits on resources: Must be a WHO issue – Which issue will you choose and how can you narrow it down? Must use academic, scholarly resources – How will you find these?
  • Percentage limit: Worth 35% of final grade – How much time and energy should you put into the assignment?

4. Make a 'guesstimate plan' using the word limit
You are required to write an essay for this assignment. Use the information gathered in the 3 steps above and your knowledge of essays to plan the structure and content of your assignment.


    • Approximately 10% of the total word length = 150 words
    • Provide general background to the topic
    • Outline the focus and structure of your essay


    • Approximately 80% of the total length = 1,200 words
    • Divide into 'chunks' of information – one topic/area of analysis per paragraph (one paragraph could be around 200-300 words depending on the focus, so aim for around 3 to 4 body paragraphs)


    • Approximately 10% of total length = 150 words
    • Summarise the main points discussed throughout your essay

NOTE: Some students like to start writing their essays by drafting an introduction first to get the structure clear. Others like to draft the body paragraphs to get a clearer understanding of their content and then write the introduction and conclusion. Do what suits you best!

To search effectively in the Library catalogue, databases, and the Internet, first prepare a strategy to give you the best chance to get the most relevant results.  

If you break the question down into several parts or concepts it will be easier to define. Your topic and its concepts form the basis for the keywords (important words) that you will use to search for information.

An example topic: Diabetes and its prevention in Australia and India 

1.   Break the topic into concepts (or parts) and choose the important keywords (or topic words) from each concept. You would not usually write the whole assignment into the search box.

  • Concept 1: diabetes
  • Concept 2: prevention
  • Concept 3: Australia, India  

2.   Think of alternative words or spellings for each concept

  • Concept 1: diabetes, diabetic, diabetics
  • Concept 2: prevention, intervention, control
  • Concept 3: Australia, India  

3.   Use truncation or wildcards in databases to automatically find different endings and spellings of words, e.g.: diabet* finds diabetes, diabetic, diabetics 

Note: If you truncate the word India* you may find some articles about North American Indians as well as articles about Asian Indians.

4.   Combine concepts using the connectors AND, OR.



prevent* OR control* or intervene*


Australia* OR India*       

Hint: For this assignment, you may find it better to run two searches: one for Australia, and one for India.

Watch the video below on how to develop a focused research question from a topic of interest found on the World Health Organisation website.

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Referencing reminders

Adapted from 'Lines, Background, Abstract, Light, Irrlichter, About' by Geralt. Licensed under CCO 1.0

Academic writing is based on wide reading of academic sources and you MUST acknowledge the writings and ideas of other people by using a referencing system.

The referencing in your assignment shows two things:

§  the range of ideas and approaches to a topic that you have found and thought about; and

§  your acknowledgement of where these ideas came from.

Three main rules

 1. Each reference must be shown in the text of your assignment each time it is used (the in-text reference)

 2. Each reference must be listed once in the reference list at the end of the assignment. This listing has full details so that your reader can find the reference. 

 3. References must be included every time you use someone else’s ideas or information. When you:

  • paraphrase (express someone else's idea in your own words)
  • summarise (express someone else's idea in a reduced form in your own words
  • quote (express someone else's idea in their exact words) or
  • copy (reproduce a diagram, graph or table from someone else's work).

Harvard UniSA referencing resources and guides

Use the Harvard UniSA referencing system as explained in the UniSA resources. See:

Finding information

The Internet can be a useful source of information for this assessment. For example, information from the World Health Organization. Check the Health Topics tab to get some ideas about a topic, then see the Data tab for some statistical information.

Google Scholar

Try Google Scholar to find more material from educational and government web sites.

The Advanced Scholar Search option (click the down arrow in the search box then select Advanced Scholar Search) gives more searching options.

Evaluating web sites

It is important that you evaluate a web site to ensure that the information is reliable. Consider:

  • Authority
    • Who wrote it?
    • What are their qualifications/credentials?
    • Is it from an authoritative source?
  • Timeliness
    • When was the information published?
    • Is it updated regularly?
  • Bias
    • Is it fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Relevance
    • Is the information relevant to the assignment topic?
    • Does the information actually cover your topic?

To find out more, watch the below video 'You be the judge: learn to evaluate'

The Library Catalogue can be a useful starting point in locating information. It is like a search engine which searches across the Library’s collection of print and electronic books, DVDs, journals and theses, together with journal and newspaper articles from numerous databases.

Use the Library Catalogue:

  • to find a book or ebook by its title
  • to find a journal article by its title, or use a combination of article title and author
  • to find information in books, journals and other materials on a topic
  • Use the down arrow next to the search box to select All fields, Title, Author or Subject. All fields is similar to doing a keyword search, and is the default search option.

Our example topic:

          Diabetes and its prevention in Australia and India

To do a search on this topic, try using

  • double quotes for phrases
  • truncation * to find the plural and other forms of a word

At the results list you can:

  • Limit to articles from Peer Reviewed publications 
  • Limit by Date, e.g. 2012 to 2017
  • Limit by Subject – this will ensure the article has a major focus on your subject, e.g. diabetes


  • See the full text for many items by selecting the title, then look for the Online link. There may be several options to choose from. This is because we may have access through more than one publisher or database.
  • Sort by Date (newest) to see most recent items first.
  • If you still have too many results, you may need to further refine your search. For example, only look for information about Type 1 diabetes, and/or focus on a particular age group, eg teenagers, older adults, or children.
  • See Library Catalogue Help for additional searching tips.

Fast facts about Library databases:

  • databases can have a general or subject-specific focus
  • they may index the details about journal articles, reports and news stories
  • many databases provide the full text of the article
  • most databases can be accessed 24/7 on and off campus. Off campus you will need to log on using your UniSA username and password

The Library has a wide range of health-related databases, but start with Academic Search Premier, Emcare (via Ovid) and Scopus.


Here’s an example of a search in Academic Search Premier about diabetes prevention in one of our chosen countries, India. 

A useful feature of this database is to use truncation or wildcards to automatically find different endings and spellings of words.

Refining the results


A useful option at the results list is to Refine Results to show only Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals, and to limit to a Publication Date range, eg 2012–2017.




Results list

Below is an example of some search results. Click on the magnifying glass next to the title to read an abstract (summary) of the article.

Saving references

Use the white plus + sign to select multiple items and then go to Folder View to print or email them for viewing later. If you use the email option and the PDF is available, it will try and send the PDF in a separate email.

Finding full text

  • Where possible, links to the full text will appear as PDF attachments.
  • When there is no immediate access to the PDF, use the Find it link. This will automatically search the Library Catalogue for your reference and may provide some access options, e.g. 'Read this article' or 'Browse this journal'.
  • For more information, read the Find a full text article using Find it guide.

Other Health databases

Try these for more information on your health issue:

Watch the following videos to help you plan your search strategy and search for information.

Articles from Peer reviewed journals are of high quality and can be used to support the argument that you are presenting. Articles in peer reviewed journals must go through an evaluation process with experts in the field before being published. The term refereed is also used.

The terms scholarly and academic are also sometimes used to indicate quality journals.

Watch the Scholarly sources explained video – it takes under 3 minutes and features an academic from the School of Health Sciences.

View the guide How to find peer reviewed articles for more information.

Watch the below video 'Peer Review in 3 Minutes' by NCSU Libraries. Published under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license.

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