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ACC200 Research Skills Guide: Keywords (Topic Analysis)

Topic Analysis

A topic analysis will help you to clarify and understand what your assessment question is asking you to do.

You will generally be given three key pieces of information:

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

Charles Sturt University has a list of explanations for common instruction words

Assessment item 3 asks you write a 1,500 word report on the following:

Brian and Candace James were impressed with the DFD you prepared for Bright Spark. They were, however, concerned, with the number of apparent internal control issues within their sales and cash collection process.  Brian and Candace has tasked you with reviewing the cash collection processes of the company and researching the potential implementation of Business Intelligence (BI). Brian and Candace have provided you with an overview of the cash collection process based on interviews with key staff.

Using the information provided to you and undertaking research as required, prepare a business report for the owners including the following:

  1. Identification of:
    • internal control weaknesses in Bright Spark cash collection process;
    • the impact these weaknesses could have on the organisation;
    • specific internal controls which could be implemented by Bright Spark in the coming weeks to mitigate the risks posed by the internal control weaknesses you have identified. The owners do not want theoretical controls suggested. They want practical controls that they can implement. [Note: all three (3) parts of question one (1) must be included as a table in your report]
  2. An overview of BI, including a discussion of digital dashboards.
  3. A comprehensive analysis of how BI would impact on:
    • management decision making within the organisation. 
    • the role of the management accounting team within the organisation. 

(See Subject Outline for full details of the assessment and marking criteria.)

Instruction words analyse, recommend, advice, review
Qualifying words & phrases accounting
Key concepts internal control weaknesses, business intelligence, digital dashboards

Topic analysis

Find additional keywords

Dictionaries and encyclopaedias can help you to find additional keywords and get an overview of the concept.

Oxford Reference Online is a huge repository of subject-specific dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and other reference-type material.


Write down the key concepts from your topic and have a go at brainstorming as many alternative keywords and phrases as possible.

Thinking about your topic in this way forces you to describe your topic in "other words", which will provide you with some useful keyword alternatives as well as help you to cement your understanding of the topic.