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How to Write a Research Paper: Identifying Keywords

Need help with your research paper. Check out this LibGuide to find out how to get started.

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:  Does watching violent movies affect teenagers?

Identify the most important concepts in your question:  movies - violence - teenagers.

Brainstorm alternate keywords and phrases.

Keyword 1:  Movies

Keyword 2:  Teenagers

Keyword 3:  Violence

Synonyms & related words


Synonyms & related words



Young adults

Synonyms & related words



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.

Once you have identified your keywords, you are ready to string them together to locate articles and books.

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. 

Reference Librarian

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Linda Park
(315) 279-5208