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DOH206 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. 

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.

DOH206 Assessment item 4 - Case Analysis - Behaviour Change:

Using the case information provided on i2, you will be required to investigate the relationships between your patient’s demographics, diet, dental condition and medical history. These relationships will help you to identify and discuss the social determinants impacting your patient’s health outcomes. You will then be required to further elaborate on how you plan to manage this patient by treatment planning, implementing preventative strategies and applying models of behaviour change.


Please note: 

  • This is a condensed version of your assessment topic, please refer to your subject outline for the full details of your assessment, including the marking rubric.
  • The "Your patient" example used throughout this guide will be an Indigenous Australian patient, please refer to your subject I2 site for detailed case information required for this task.


Instruction words investigate
Qualifying words & phrases your patient
Key concepts dental condition, medical history, diet, social determinants, health outcomes, treatment planning

Keyword Activity


Using synonyms can assist by broadening your search, thereby helping you locate appropriate and relevant information resources. You can identify alternate keywords or synonyms, like those listed below, that may be useful during your information searching process by looking in general or subject specific dictionaries.

Some alternate keywords for the concepts we identified earlier might include:

Concept Synonym
Social determinants of health disadvantage, health inequalities, healthcare disparities
Indigenous Australian Aboriginal, First Nations

Keyword Activity

Write down the key concepts from your chosen assignment 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.

Charles Sturt University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which its campuses are located, paying respect to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.

Charles Sturt University is an Australian University, TEQSA Provider Identification: PRV12018. CRICOS Provider: 00005F.