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JST409 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.


This guide will focus on the requirements for Assessment 1, but you can apply the same techniques for all of your assessments in this subject.

Your JST409 Assessment 1 question is:

Using the scenario provided, assume the role of lead Investigator and respond to the following action items: 

Your Chief of Police has requested that you prepare a comprehensive report (2500 words) regarding the disappearance of Claire Hughes. In your report you are required to provide information under the following sub headings:

1. The identification of your primary ‘Golden Hour’ fast track actions, together with an explanation of  the rationale behind each one.

2. Explain the development of  your short to medium term investigative strategy for this investigation. You are expected to justify each of your actions, taking into consideration the potential investigative and organizational risks you may encounter for pursuing your chosen courses of action.

3. Using the ‘3 step investigative model’ (Hypothesis Development), develop, articulate and fully justify your initial hypothesis for this incident. 

4. Consider the potential impact heuristics and bias could play on this investigation and outline your strategy for mitigating the risk of them developing.

Instruction words explain, justify, outline
Qualifying words  - 
Key concepts ‘Golden Hour’ fast track actions, Hypothesis Development, heuristics, bias


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.


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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