Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Education Resources: Identifying Keywords

Finding educational materials including books, articles and websites to help with your research.

Identifying Keywords

Once you have a topic in mind, it is time to start identifying keywords and phrases that describe your topic.  The terms that you come up with can be used to search in the online catalog as well as the library's online databases. For example:  

Research question:  What strategies & resources can schools use to deal with bullying?

Identify the most important concepts in your question:  children - bullying - schools - resources

Brainstorm alternate keywords and phrases.





Synonyms & AlternativeTerms 



Synonyms & AlternativeTerms 






Synonyms & AlternativeTerms 



Synonyms & AlternativeTerms 






Once you have identified your keywords, you are ready to string them together to locate articles and books. You can also look for ideas for keywords in your search results in the online catalog and article databases or check out the Library of Congress Subject Headings located at the reference desk.

If you are having trouble coming up with search terms, see a reference librarian who can help you find the best terms to use to find the information you need to write your paper. 

Online ERIC Thesaurus

The ERIC Thesaurus is a list of terms representing research topics in the field of education and can be very useful in identifying keywords when doing education research.  Descriptors from the ERIC Thesaurus are assigned to every document in the ERIC database and can be used when searching any of the library's databases.

Other Strategies for Identifying Keywords

Following are some additional strategies for coming up with keywords:

  • Look at your textbook, a periodical article, or an encyclopedia
  • Look for keywords in your search results in the online catalog and article databases:
    • Subject heading fields
    • Abstracts of articles often have lists of keywords or descriptors
  • Look at the database thesaurus or list of subject terms

Reference Librarian

Profile Photo
Linda Park
(315) 279-5208