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PHC190 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 has a list of explanations for common instruction words.

In your PHC190 Subject Outline you are supplied with Jo's Case, and you are required to answer the question "What would you do in this case and why?"

Your Assessment 2 task is:

Demonstrate in a brief essay that you have an applied understanding of why having knowledge of ethics is important for paramedic practice. This task will also demonstrate that you can undertake an ethical calculus and that you can synthesise ethics with the Code of Conduct and apply it to a case.

We will now look at how we could conduct a Topic Analysis for more effective and efficient research.

Instruction words Essay style discussion
Qualifying words & phrases Importance of ethics to Paramedics
Key concepts Ethics of patient care, Paramedicine/Prehospital care, Decision making


Note: The activities and example searches in this tutorial are based on the above example topic. When working through the activities and searches in this tutorial please feel free to replace the examples provided with your own topic if you prefer.

Keyword Activity

""Using synonyms can assist by broadening your search, thereby helping you locate appropriate and relevant information resources. You can identify alternate keywords or synonyms, like those listed below, that may be useful during your information searching process by looking in general dictionaries.

For example, some alternate keywords for the concepts we identified above might include:

  • Emergency workers = paramedic, ambulance officer, emergency personnel
  • Prehospital care = Prehospital emergency medicine, prehospital trauma care, paramedicine, immediate care.
  • Ethics = conduct, integrity, standards, "ethical issue"

Keyword Activity

Write down the key concepts from your chosen assignment 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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