Keywords are words or short phrases that represent the main ideas in your research topic or question.
In Google, you can search using full sentences. Library databases are not as smart as Google and do not understand full sentences, spelling mistakes or conversational language.
Instead, you have to consider the words that authors are using the write about a topic.
To come up with keywords, identify the most important words in your research question or topic.
|Does racial profiling against black men in America play a role in increasing poverty within black communities?|
In the research question above, the most important keywords are: "racial profiling," "America, "poverty" and "black communities."
You could start searching the library's databases with just these keywords, but you may need to expand your search by brainstorming related words for each keyword. These could be:
Take a look at the table below to see what other words we could use for 2 of our keywords.
|Keyword 1: Racial profiling||Keyword 2: America|
|Broader: Racism||Synonym: USA, United States|
|Broader: Racial discrimination||Broader: North America|
|Synonym: Ethnic profiling||Narrower: New York|
As you search for sources using the keywords, you will identify new keywords from abstracts, subject terms and titles. You can revise your searches with new keywords and continue the process until you find relevant sources.