Keywords are the main concepts of your research topic and/or question.
For example, What are the causes of global warming? The keywords are causes and global warming. But there are other words that might help you.
Terms that mean the same thing (synonyms) are also worthwhile keywords.
Why Keyword Searching? Why not just type in a phrase or sentence like you do in Google,Yahoo! or Bing?
The bottom line: you get better results in a database by using effective keyword search strategies.
To develop an effective search strategy, you need to:
Because there is more than one way to express a concept or idea. You don't know if the article you're looking for uses the same expression for a key concept that you are using.
Consider: Will an author use:
Don't get "keyword lock!" Be willing to try a different term as a keyword. If you are having trouble thinking of synonyms, check a thesaurus, dictionary, or reference book for ideas.
To build an effective search for a database it is best to use keywords or short phrases which represent the main concepts of your research question.
A good strategy for building a keyword search is:
1. Begin with your research question
|Topic: What role do nurses play in mental health care for children?|
2. Draw out the concepts from the topic statement. In other words, eliminate every thing but the main ideas of the question.
Main Concepts (Keywords) of Topic:
__nursing role_____AND______mental health_________AND____ children_
Note: Searching is a process and may require trying several different combinations of keywords or short phrases. For example, you might also choose to search: Nursing AND role AND mental AND health AND children.
3. Create a list of synonyms for each of the principal concepts. Think of different ways to express the same idea (children vs. kids). But remember that every synonym need not be an exact synonym. Broader or related terms, even antonyms can be useful too.
Nursing AND assessment
Nursing AND care
4. As you go through the research process you will need to add more synonyms to your list as you encounter them. Remember to be on the watch for new terms and to keep your keyword lists as "running lists."
5. If you would like a blank keyword worksheet to document keywords and synonyms for your own topic, click the link above to download.
Understanding "Boolean" connectors is fundamental to database searching!
Boolean logic uses the operators AND and OR to connect search terms when using catalogs, databases, or a web search tool.
A research question with a Problem AND Intervention: Does handwashing among healthcare workers reduce hospital-acquired infection?
Combine the two terms with AND for a preliminary literature search.