ENGL 1102 - Abbott (Online) - Fall 2023

Keywords - A Quick Guide

One Perfect Source?

One thing to keep in mind when you are doing research on your topic is that there is NO SUCH THING as a single perfect source that you will be able to cite to support your thesis. Researching and writing is a process of learning about your topic, thinking critically about what you've learned, and supporting your thesis through referencing a variety of sources. 


Why Keywords?

Why Use Keywords?

Keyword searching is the core building block of doing good research. If you choose solid keywords, your results will be stronger and more focused!

The video Keywords - A Quick Guide offers a look at developing keywords from a topic sentence or research question. The information in Searching 101 will guide you through the steps of choosing keywords, key phrases, and synonyms.

Finally, there's the One Perfect Source? video, reminding you that you will rarely find one source that answers all your questions!

Searching 101

THINK first, SEARCH later.

  • What kind of resource are you searching for? (Book? Video? Website? Academic article?) 
    • This tells you WHERE to search: Galileo, GIL, or in a web browser!
  • Are there other important things you need to consider?
    • Something written by a specialist? Go for Peer Reviewed!
    • Something written during a specifc time? Check out the date range!
  • What information are you searching for? 
    • This is where keywords come in. 

Make a list. Check it twice!  (Don’t know anything about keywords? Watch the Keywords:A Quick Guide video on this page!) 

Always remember: KEYWORDS are critical!

Here's an example.

My topic is "Text messaging is harmful to teen literacy."

My keywords in this topic are "text messaging" and "harmful", "teen", and maybe "literacy". (We will discuss that last one in a minute!)

My "related words" (synonyms!) lists might look like this:

  • Keyword: "text messaging". Related words: "texting", "chatting", "messaging"
  • Keyword: "harmful". Related words: "damaging", "unhealthy", "negative"
  • Keyword: "teen". Related words: "teenager", "young adult", "adolescent", "youth"
  • Keyword: "literacy", Related words: "reading", "writing", "proficiency", "ability"

Now I can mix and match - pick two or three words from different lists and use those as my initial search.

Sometimes you have tricky words like literacy. There's no one word that means the same thing, but you can make PHRASES out of other words, like combining "reading" and "proficiency" to make a key phrase: "reading proficiency".


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