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AHT101 Research Skills Guide: Keywords (Topic Analysis)

Before you begin

The activities and example searches in this tutorial are based on the example topic detailed in the Topic Analysis box below. When working through the activities and searches in this tutorial please feel free to replace the examples provided with your own topic.

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.

This Guide is based on the following example assignment question:

Prepare a report  and discuss 'Will selection for increased muscle score in beef cattle, effectively lift herd profits in Australia? '                  

Instruction words Prepare, report, discuss
Qualifying words & phrases Australia
Key concepts muscle score, beef cattle, herd profits

Topic analysis


Once you have decided on a topic you need to think of words and phrases to use in your information searching.

Write down the key concepts from your topic and have a go at brainstorming as many alternative keywords and phrases as possible.

Dictionaries and encyclopaedias can also help you to find additional keywords and may provide an overview of a concept.


Search the Macquarie Dictionary for the keyword cattle and take a look at the alternative terms suggested, these terms, including bovine, beef cattle and livestock are synonyms which could be used as alternative keywords in your information searching.

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