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JST456 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.CSU has a list of explanations for common instruction words.

Your Assessment 1 question is:

Select one of the below two essay topics;

1. Explain the spiritual significance of each of the five pillars of Islam. Include in your explanation a discussion of the benefits and/or challenges for western Muslims in practicing each of them in a western context. The benefits and challenges identified and discussed can be individual and/or social.


2. Discuss situations that law enforcement personnel may encounter in western countries where it may be necessary tp adapt their response in consideration of Islamic beliefs and practices, as well as situations where a change of response or behaviour is not appropriate. Include in your answer an explanation of the beliefs and practices you have identified supported by appropriate referencing.

NOTE: Post-graduate participants will be expected to undertake the assessment item at the indicated greater length, including a higher level of:

  • explanation
  • analysis
  • use of academic resources
  • personal research
  • application and use of knowledge

reflecting the increased expectations of participants undertaking post-graduate study

Instruction words Explain, discuss, analyze, research, apply
Qualifying words & phrases Islam, Islamic practices, Muslim
Key concepts Western context, law enforcement, 


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.

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.

Topic analysis

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.Acknowledgement of Country

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