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ITC595 Research Skills Guide: 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.

Assessment 3 Task 1  asks you to identify a relevant cybersecurity podcast pertaining to information security and write an abstract (short summary) on the content of the podcast.

Assessment 3 Task 2 asks you to provide a complete report of your research topic that you selected in Task 1. For this assessment, you will need to locate and cite at least 3 journal or conference papers

Example of a topic analysis

Biometrics for authentication: security and privacy implications

Instruction words provide an overview
Qualifying words & phrases authentication, key security challenges

Key concepts

biometrics, security, privacy

 

Example of these search terms using Boolean operators (See Common search tips below):

((biometrics AND authentication) AND (security OR privacy))

From Topic Analysis to Database searching

Searching databases in a consistent, structured manner will save you time. As your searching progresses and your searches are refined, keeping a record of your search terms can be extremely useful.  It can also improve the relevancy of results obtained, as you reflect on your keywords and synonyms and how these influence your search results.

To develop a good search strategy you could use your Topic analysis to:

  • identify, and keep a record of key words, terms and phrases
    • brainstorming your main discussion points to create concept/mind maps can help tease out themes and keywords
  • identify keyword synonyms, use database Thesauri or Subject Headings;
  • determine a timeframe from your research, if needed
  • consider what type of material you will include and why
  • identify where you will search for the information

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

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.

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