Selecting & Developing Keywords

When searching the library catalogue or databases, using keywords is much better than using full sentences. Here’s how to select and generate keywords for your searches.

Identify your research topic/question:

For example, “What role does nature  play in Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake?”

Identify the major concepts in your topic:

Nature, “Oryx and Crake”, Margaret Atwood

Create a list of keywords:

Build upon some of your major concept keywords with related words and synonyms. A thesaurus can help with this.

For example, Nature:  natural, environment, landscape, natural world, ecology, ecosystem…

Do background research:

Sometimes some background research is needed to identify a few more keywords. For example, genetic engineering,  “MaddAdam Trilogy”, Crakers…

These keywords were found by looking through the novel  “Oryx and Crake”

Keep a working list of keywords:

Keep adding and crossing out keywords as you learn more about your topic and learn what keywords work best for the information you need.

Start simple:

Start with simple searches and add in or change the keywords in your as you go on.. For example, “Oryx and Crake” AND Nature OR Natural

Selecting Keywords