Identify Keywords

You can search for information much more effectively when you take the time to break down your topic into concepts and find keywords related to them.

This will give you the search terms needed to search the various information sources: databases, eBooks, or the web. Let’s see this process step by step.

Step 1.

First, pick out your main concepts. Your concepts are the most important aspects of your topic or research question.

To find them, ignore the “small” words (what, are, the, etc.), words connected to time (sometimes, always, perhaps, often, etc.) and words that show relation (effects, lead to, increases, etc.)


What are the effects of media on bullying among children?

The  main concepts are:     media                   bullying                children


Step 2.

Now, find some synonyms. Different authors will use different words to write about their topics. Therefore, you must come up with synonyms and related words for each concept.

Don’t forget to include spelling variants (behavior & behaviour) and singular / plural variants (goose & geese).  Your concepts, along with the synonyms and related terms, become your keywords.


Tip: Can’t think of any words? Use these tools to find synonyms.


Step 3.

Finally, fill in a keyword chart with the words you have collected.


Examples of filled-out keyword charts.

Download this keyword chart and fill it out yourself to keep track of your own keywords.


Continue to the next step