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PHM101 Research Skills Guide: Topic Analysis & Keywords

Topic Analysis OR Understanding Your Question

A topic analysis will help you to clarify and understand what your assessment question is asking you to do. Note that if your question has an evidence based practice foundation you may like to consider a PICO analysis before undertaking the more general topic analysis.

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.

PHM101 Assessment item 6: WPL Essay:

The task is to produce an essay of no more than 1000 words discussing communication of evidence based information within community pharmacy.

In your discussion, provide examples of practice observed during placement to support your argument and/or use examples from your own experience or from the professional practice literature.

An important component of any essay is the use of current research to support any viewpoint that you have presented. In this essay you are required to include a minimum of 5 current (no more than 5 years old) journal articles; you may also cite other sources (eg text books, newspaper articles, internet sources) that are applicable to the topic being discussed.

Note: Please refer to your subject outline for the full details of your assessment task, including marking criteria.

Instruction words discussing/discussion, illustrate
Qualifying words & phrases examples, current research
Key concepts evidence based practice, community pharmacy


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.

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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