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The Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: 1c. Identify Keywords

This guide walks you through the steps of the research process.


Make a list to keep track of keywords related to your topic. Keep it by your side when you start your research.  Think of your initial topic, then come up with similar terms, broader terms, narrower terms, and related terms.

The keywords you use can have a profound impact on the results of your research. Using the “right” words will speed up the research process, while the “wrong” words can bring to it to a screeching halt.

If the keywords you choose initially do not give you the results you need, try the others on your list or use the search strategies listed under Step 2.


Identifying Keywords

Before you can begin searching for information in a print or online resource, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Key terminology can be easily be found by scanning:

If you are still struggling, then try these suggestions:

  • Use a print thesaurus or an online thesaurus tool to identify synonyms
  • Find pictures related to your topic, then describe the picture
  • Brainstorm keywords with a librarian, your instructor, or a friend

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Michele Nicole Johnson
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College of Coastal Georgia