Topic Analysis

Topic Analysis - text

Your assignment question will generally give you three key pieces of information:

  1. The key topic or concept words direct you in what to research.
  2. The limits or qualifiers tell you the specific focus of the topic or concept.
  3. The task or instruction terms tell how you are to deal with the content.

You have a better chance of finding information and answering your assignment question if you have a clear idea of the concept of your assignment. For example, imagine you had the following assignment topic

"Investigate and report on a single case of medical negligence in Australia, and the legal and ethical implications of that case."

The key concept is "medical negligence". Any information that you search for should be related to medical negligence.

However, on its own, it is too broad a term. You don't want to know about medical negligence on an international scale, just within Australia. You also don't want to know about the causes or how frequently it occurs - you are only interested in the legal and ethical implications of a single case.

Similarly, searching for information about the legal and ethical implications of a single case of medical negligence in Australia is probably far too narrow (although you could get lucky).

So it might work best to break it up into a series of searches, or search using your key concept but then narrow it down. You could search for:

"medical negligence AND legal"

"medical negligence AND ethics"

Once you have identified the concept, try using some subject specific dictionaries and encyclopaedias to understand the terms and find synonyms to expand your searches.

eg. You could search for "medical negligence OR malpractice"

More...

Use the Library Skills drop down menu above to go to the next topic.