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MRS120 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:

  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.

Your MRS120 question is:

Assessment item 3

Part A: Referenced Essay (20%)

The portfolio and reflection are crucial aspects of personal and professional development for both students and qualified practitioners. Consider the following quotes.

Educating the mind without the heart is not education at all. Aristotle

The more reflective you are, the more effective you are. Hall and Simeral

Write a fully referenced essay discussing the role of reflection and the portfolio in student development and learning. Students can elect to adopt either a narrative, descriptive, expository or persuasive essay style. Students should keep in mind that development of writing style, evidence based investigation and understanding of the concepts (reflection, portfolios and professionalism) are being evaluated.

Instruction words Discuss
Qualifying words & phrases Student development and learning
Key concepts Reflection, portfolio, professionalism

Keyword Activity


Using synonyms can assist by broadening your search, thereby helping you locate appropriate and relevant information resources. You can identify alternate keywords or synonyms, like those listed below, that may be useful during your information searching process by checking subject textbooks or dictionaries & encyclopaedias such as Oxford Reference Online.

Some alternate keywords for the concepts we identified earlier might include:

Concept Synonym
Reflection Reflective learning, reflective practice
Portfolio Student portfolio, professional portfolio, folder, collection
Professionalism Professional practice

Keyword Activity

Write down the key concepts from your chosen assignment 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.

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.

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