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NUT201 Research Skills Guide: Keywords (Topic Analysis)

Library Information Literacy Task

What is 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.

You have a better chance of finding information and answering your assessment question if you have a clear idea of the concept of your assessment. For example, let's take a look at the following task:

The diet and nutrition of school-age children in Australia has changed. Discuss

Instruction words Discuss
Key concepts The diet and nutrition of children
Qualifying words and phrases Australia and "school-age children"

For more information about this process, watch the Topic Analysis video on the right.

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.

Topic Analysis

Let's start thinking about what terms you will use when searching for information. To do this:

  • Identify the key concepts of your topic (watch the topic analysis video for assistance); and then
  • Brainstorm as many synonyms and similar terms/phrases as you can.

This is a useful exercise because the language used to describe your topic may vary from source to source, and you don't want to miss out on a good source because it uses a different term to the one you are searching on.

Here's another example - your 4th assessment asks you to choose one of the following topics:

  1. Implementation of a sugar tax on sugar sweetened beverages
  2. Stronger legislation of advertising and marketing of food to children

Your academic also asks you to:

Make a 200-300 word post (word limit does not include references) to the relevant discussion board on i2 that describes another country's implementation of the strategy of your choice. Please provide references where appropriate (references are not included in the word count).


Keyword Synonym / Similar term or phrase
"sugar tax" sweetener*, levy, tariff
implement* application, enact*
Another country international

You'll notice the use of the asterisk (*), and inverted commas (" ") in these terms - find out more information about using these search tools on our Search Strategies page.

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