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ENG W131: Reading, Writing, & Inquiry

Generating Keywords

This short video covers an example of how your might walk through the keyword brainstorming process..

Turning Concepts into Keywords (aka "Search Terms")

As you can see below in #2 on the infographic, this research question contains some nouns or noun phrases that are key to defining this topic. These key concepts will become powerful keywords or search terms when you begin your searching. Remember to avoid the "fluff words" or vague words that could appear anywhere; instead focus on those words that will appear in the articles or resources that you are targeting.

Now, think about your own topic, and pick out the main concepts. I've laid out space here for three, but you should typically have anywhere between two and five:

Concept A _______________________

Concept B _______________________

Concept C _______________________

When you've identified the key concepts in your topic, think of synonyms or related words for each concept. They don't have to be perfect synonyms, and, in fact, sometimes antonyms can be useful search terms. This idea is illustrated below with the "air quality" and pollution pairing. More later on why "air quality" appears in quotations...

Concept A _______________________ OR __synonym __ OR __narrower term__ OR __antonym__ OR __related word__

In my example below, I have listed some related words for climate change. As you know, greenhouse gas is not a synonym for climate change, but it is often cited as a contributing factor. It is a narrower term related to a subset of ideas within this topic that I can use when I begin to search.

Concept: "Climate Change"        OR "Global Warming"    OR "anthropogenic global warming"    OR "greenhouse effect"