What are Keywords?
A keyword is a word or phrase that is relevant to your topic. With a keyword search, you can search all parts of a source for the words you enter in the search box. This type of searching uses "natural language" and is one you're probably already familiar with--you simply enter words or phrases into a search box that you think are relevant to your topic.
The library has several books and ebooks in our collection which can help answer your questions about using keywords. Check out the books and web resources below for additional information.
Helpful Books from the Library:
The Oxford Guide to Library Research by Thomas Mann
The Creative Guide to Research by Robin Rowland
To find more books and ebooks on using keywords, please search the Online Library Catalog.
Helpful Web Resources:
These web resources may be helpful if you need help with using keywords. However, be sure to evaluate any sources you use--the Shapiro Library cannot vouch for the accuracy of information provided on external websites.
When choosing keywords for your topic, you'll want to consider the major concepts addressed by your research question(s) and come up with a list of synonyms or related terms. For example:
If your research question is: What is the connection between smoking and depression among teenagers?
Major concepts for this topic might include:
Synonyms or related terms might include:
When doing a keyword search it's a good idea to try a number of different search terms and phrases. Don't be discouraged if your initial keyword search brings back too many, too few, or irrelevant results--you'll want to try multiple keywords, synonyms for your keywords, different combinations of keywords, etc. to bring back the best results. Check these videos for more help choosing and using keywords:
Tips for Using Keyword Searching Effectively
When doing a keyword search it's a good idea to try a number of different search terms and phrases. Don't be discouraged if your initial keyword search brings back too many, too few, or irrelevant results--you'll want to try multiple keywords, synonyms for your keywords, different combinations of keywords, etc. to bring back the best results.
As with any search strategy, you may want to consider what keyword searching is most useful for and anything you should be cautious about when using this searching technique:
For example, if you are looking for information about the dangers of texting and driving you may start out with keywords like: texting, driving, distracted driving, danger, cellphones, etc.
But you'll also want to try using synonyms for keywords (e.g. cellphones = mobile phones, smartphones, iphone, etc.) and combining keywords (e.g. texting and driving, distracted driving and danger, etc.) to get better, more thorough results.