Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

JST110 Research Skills Guide: Keywords (Topic Analysis)

Topic Analysis

A topic analysis will help you to clarify and understand what your assessment task 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.

Your JST110 Assessment 3 task is to write a research essay (1800 words) in response to the following statement:

Australian prisons provide the ideal place to rehabilitate offenders sentenced by the courts for illegal drug use or for offending associated with their illegal drug using.


Your Subject Outline has more details.

Instruction words discuss
Limits Australian, international
Key concepts prisons, imprisonment, prisoners, offenders, rehabilitation, treatment, drug use, drug-related, mental illness, recidivism, re-offending...

You need at least eight different academic quality sources for your essay and these must be referenced. See the FIND tab on how to search for academic quality sources and the USE tab for referencing help.


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.