Published on March 13, 2014
How to Search in a Database Generating Keywords
Databases can be searched using something called keywords. This presentation will show you how to come up with keywords.
Keywords sum up your topic in just a few words, but coming up with them can be tricky. Authors use different words to mean the same thing. If you use the wrong words when searching, you might find very little on your topic. Use the right words and you can locate much more on the subject!
Choosing a Topic Creating keywords is easier if you have a strong topic. If you have not determined a specific topic yet, you may want to look at encyclopedias, professional association websites, or a textbook on the subject.
Creating Keywords To determine your keywords, take your research question or a topic sentence and take out the words like and, the, a, an, and, etc. You can then remove verbs. Your research question is: Postsecondary education can have very positive effects on income and employment. Now you try! Answer on the next page.
When you are left with just nouns that describe your topic, write these down. Postsecondary education can have very positive effects on income and employment.
Now brainstorm 2-3 other words that are synonyms of the words left from your research question or topic sentence. Postsecondary Education College University Higher education Income Salary Earnings Benefits Compensation Employment Occupation Profession Recruitment Job
Choose the best words to search out of your list. Consider taking words that are plural and making them singular and always check the spelling of the word. If you have a phrase with more than one word, add quotation marks around the phrase. College, Higher Education Salary, Income Employment, Job
Next, combine different parts of your topic with the Boolean operators AND to find articles where the two ideas intersect. College AND Salary AND Employment
Put these keywords in to the database and search. If you are not finding what you are looking for, try one of your other synonyms for a word. You can also separate similar words with the Boolean Operator OR. College OR Higher Education AND Salary OR Income AND Employment OR Job
During the research process, your topic may develop and change in to something else. If it does, go through this process again to determine your keywords to reflect your new topic. If you have questions, Ask a Librarian! Remember
How to Generate Keywords Create a Research Topic. Enter your research topic below. Try to limit the topic to one sentence that fully describes your research.
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A library tutorial on coming up with keywords for searching databases for articles.