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English Composition 1001

Research made easy.

CHOOSING KEYWORDS

This unit explains the concept of keywords, why we use them for efficient searching, and how to brainstorm keywords for your own topic. 

What's in this unit?

  • A video that introduces the concept of keywords
  • Links to several resources for digging deeper into keywords for your topic
  • A sample and blank concept map for brainstorming keywords

How will this help me?

Library databases can be tricky to navigate, so it's useful to be organized when you start researching. Having a list of prepared search terms that describe your interest in your topic and that frequently come up when you read about your topic will be a great starting point for gathering scholarly sources.

INTRODUCTION TO KEYWORDS

After you have developed a research question, you'll need to break that question down into "keywords"--the most essential elements of the research question.  These terms are what you will search with in library databases.  It also is important to brainstorm related words and concepts, so that you have multiple terms to mix and match--this will maximize your chances of finding sources.  

DIG DEEPER

When you are trying to find arguments for a particular side, the words "pro" and "con" may not work and words like "for" and "against" may be ignored by the search engine.

Here are some terms to try:

Both sides of the debate "Pro" arguments "Con" arguments

argument*

aspect*

opinion*

controvers*

debate*

advocate*

champion*

proponent*

support*

sympathize*

 

advantage*

benefit*

opponent*

antagonist*

 

 

 

 

disadvantage*

drawback*

shortcoming*

The background reading you did when choosing your topic is also  relevant to selecting keywords--look through what you have already read to get a sense of the language others have used to describe this topic.  Use this vocabulary as a starting place for listing keywords.

APPLY LEARNING

Complete this concept map with the primary topic in the center and secondary concepts in the smaller bubbles; identify like terms (synonyms) for each secondary concept. (See the example below).

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