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EHR109 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.Charles Sturt University has a list of explanations for common instruction words.

Your EHR109 Assessment 3 question asks you to select a topic from the given list and:

  1. Write a 600 word essay demonstrating your knowledge of the selected topic.
  2. Construct a concept map that identifies the key issues/points that you need to address in your response paper that demonstrates your knowledge of this topic
  3. Use your textbook, lecture notes and other prescribed readings, as well as at least one academic journal article of your own finding, to gather information regarding your topic.

We'll use the first topic from Part A as an example:

Exercise can improve one’s mental health. Discuss this statement with evidence for and/or against it from research findings and examples of sport/exercise experiences.

The topic and instructions can be analysed as follows:

Instruction words Discuss
Qualifying words & phrases Evidence, research findings, examples
Key concepts Mental health, exercise, sport, improvement


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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