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Typing in the whole research question will get me what I need, right? Wrong!

Identifying Keywords

The keywords you use to find information will help you find the information you need.  Using the “right” words will speed up the research process, while the “wrong” words can make you frustrated. 


Before you can begin searching for information, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Key words can be easily be found by scanning: 

  • Your research questions
  • Articles found from background research
  • Bibliographies found at the end of books and articles

If you are still struggling:

  • Use a thesaurus to identify synonyms.
  • Find pictures related to your topic, then describe them.
  • Brainstorm keywords with a librarian, your instructor, or a friend.

Mental Keyword Exercise

Think of an apple. Picture it clearly in your mind!

How would you describe that apple to a friend without using the word "apple" at all?

"Red", "fruit", and "fall" all might come to mind. Those are your keywords! 

Now, try thinking about your research topic. What words would you use to describe your topic to a friend? Those might be some keywords! 

Snappy Words!


Ms. Cidney Mayes | Memorial Middle School | 120 Wescott Road | South Portland, Maine | 04106 | Tel: 207-773-5629