6 Using Keywords Effectively

Keywords help guide your searches, but how do you come up with them?  Get started by writing your topic as a question or statement.  Circle the main concepts, and think about synonyms for each of the main concepts.  We do this in order to determine which keywords or short phrases to enter into search boxes for the library’s catalog (WorldCat, in our case) and databases.

Be flexible and creative in your thinking, do some background reading to clarify terms, and experiment with your keywords in WorldCat and library databases.  When you successfully find sources that are relevant to your search, pay attention to the keywords and subject terms/descriptors in the database record and the source itself.  This may lead you to additional sources. Ask a librarian if you need help!

Here is a useful thinking tool to get you started with your keywords.

Here is a concept map worksheet to guide you in thinking about keywords and synonyms.

More information is available through the library’s DIY Research Process guide. DIY Research

“Find” © 2020 Bucknell University. All rights reserved.
“DIY Research” © 2020 Bucknell University. All rights reserved.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Information Literacy Foundations by Nancy Frazier and Research Services, Bucknell University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book