A topic analysis will help you to clarify and understand what your assessment question is asking you to do.
You should be able to break down the assessment task into three components:
Imagine you are required to write a literature review based on the following topic:
Discuss the effect of sports or energy drinks on the oral health of teenagers
|Qualifying words & phrases||teenagers|
|Key concept||sports or energy drinks, oral health|
Identify synonyms (alternative terms) to use in your search, e.g.:
|oral health||dental health, caries|
|sports or energy drinks||drinks, beverages|
For full details of your assessment task please refer to your subject outline.
In health/medical research, and particularly in the process of Evidence-Based Practice, it can be useful to express your research topic as a clinical question. That way you can focus clearly on exactly what you need to know and work out the concepts you need to search for.
The clinical question should be:
Using a search framework such as PICO can help you pinpoint your question, and from there your search strategy.
The PICO search framework tool is commonly used to formulate clinical questions around interventions and their efficacy. The PICO letters each stand for a key concept that you'll be looking for in the literature to help you answer the question:
|P||Patient/Population/Problem||Start with the patient, or group of patients, or problem|
|I||Intervention||What is the proposed intervention?|
|C||Comparison||What is the main alternative, to compare with the intervention (there may not be one)|
What is the anticipated, or hoped-for, outcome?
"I work in an aged care facility where urinary tract infections are a common problem. I've heard that cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs. I wonder if there's any evidence for that and whether it might help our patients?"
Now the clinical question can be framed as: Does cranberry juice help prevent UTIs in residents of aged care homes?
The question has been narrowed to its key elements, and includes words that can be used as search terms: cranberry juice; prevent*; utis OR "urinary tract infections"; "aged care home" OR "nursing home".
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.
Cooke, A., Smith, D., & Booth, A. (2012). Beyond PICO: The SPIDER tool for qualitative evidence synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1435-1443. doi:10.1177/1049732312452938
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