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SCI101 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 SCI101 assessment task requires you to choose your topic from one of 4 topics, or to decide upon a research topic of your own. For the sake of demonstration, we we will focus on Topic A:

"Write an essay that discusses the use of vaccination to control infectious disease. Include in your essay the scientific basis for the efficacy of good vaccination programs. You must also present an accurate perspective of the ethical issues associated with vaccination programs and potential alternative medical controls."

Instruction words Write; discuss; include; present
Qualifying words & phrases efficacy; ethics; alternatives
Key concepts Vaccination; vaccination programs; infectious disease control

KEYWORD ACTIVITY

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.