Planning an effective search strategy can save you time and retrieve more relevant results
At this first stage, you need to work out:
If you are confused or unsure about the assessment topic, ask your lecturer or tutor who can talk it through with you.
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:
Once you've broken your topic down into parts, it will be easier to work out what information you need to search for.
Here is an example of the topic analysis process, adapted from a question from assessment in a previous session:
Demonstrate your understanding of at least three (3) of the issues and challenges in data management for academic researchers at present and in the near future. Issues you could explore include research data standards, research data ethics, publishing and licensing, and challenges imposed by the legal and regulatory framework around these issues.
Your initial topic analysis might look like this:
Demonstrate your understanding
|Key concept/s||Research data management|
(3 selected issues)
This question involves choosing 3 areas to focus on, and once you've made your selection, you can start developing keywords. You might like to review background information about your topic e.g. Wikipedia articles, non-scholarly articles, to find keywords. (You wouldn't use these sources in your essay.)
|Key concept||Key search words and phrases|
|Research data ethics||
Human research ethics, data sharing ethics, sensitive data
|Open access||Open data, open research data|
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.
Dictionaries and encyclopaedias can help you to find additional keywords and get an overview of the concept.
In the Oxford Reference search box below, enter some of the keywords you've identified from your assessment question and note down any alternate keywords that you find.