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NRS221 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. CSU has a list of explanations for common instruction words.

Let's take a look at the following example:

Question 1 asks you to discuss the impact post operative pain can have on the older person and identify and discuss one evidence based nursing related assessment tool suitable for use with an older person. 

Instruction words Discuss, identify
Qualifying words & phrases evidence based, nursing related, post operative
Key concepts Pain, pain assessment, impact of pain, older person, assessment tool

KEYWORD ACTIVITY

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.

For example, the concept of "the older person" or "older people" can be described a number of ways. Some alternative keywords may include: elderly, aged, geriatric, older

Keep in mind that your assessment is asking for Australian information from a Nursing journal, so you will need to think about how you can adjust your search terms to fit these criteria.

Topic analysis

Find additional keywords

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.

Find your definitions by searching Oxford Reference Online