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MGT100 Research Skills Guide: Plan

Identifying what you need

Planning an effective search strategy can save you time and retrieve more relevant results.

At this first stage, you need to work out:

  • what the assessment is asking you to do
  • how you are going to search for answers to the question

If you are confused or unsure about the assessment topic, ask your lecturer or tutor who will be happy to talk it through with you.

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:

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

From your Subject Outline the Report assessment task:

You have been given an article that discusses CSR

For this assessment task:

  • Define the key term 'CSR';
  • Discuss the key developments in CSR over the last decade (as described in the article);
  • Discuss why CSR is now important for companies and whether CSR should be an explicit or implicit managerial responsibility; 
  • Choose an organisation and briefly describe this business and recommend whether or not this company should implement CSR. Incorporate and apply the theory of CSR in your discussion
Instruction words Define, discuss, recommend, incorporate, apply
Qualifying words & phrases last decade
Key concepts  corporate social responsibility (CSR), managerial responsibility, CSR developments

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.

Topic analysis


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.


Keywords Synonyms or related terms
CSR corporate sustainability, sustainable business, corporate conscience, corporate citizenship, responsible business, business ethics...
corporate company, business, organisation...