ID651 - Design for Supportive Environments

This class guide supports student research for the Fall 2017 session of ID 651.

Keywords and Synonyms

Why Keywords?

  • Because good keywords are essential to good research.
  • The more keywords you can think of, the more likely you will find what you are looking for.

Why Synonyms?

Synonyms make your list of keywords longer. More keywords = better searching = more results. Look at the example below to get an idea of how synonyms can broaden your understanding of a given concept:

image of a synonym word map

Our Advice: 

  • Make lists of keywords for the main concepts of your research topic.
  • Use single words or simple phrases.
  • Be prepared that this may all change as you learn more information through your research.
  • Be flexible and adaptable in your thinking.
  • Use a thesaurus to help generate synonyms.

Design Search Examples

Many library resources offer the option to combine your keywords using AND, OR, & NOT.  This can also be useful when searching online.  Use quotation marks to search for a name or phrase.

  • AND = All words must be present; helps limit the search.
    • "Steven Holl" AND "Chapel of St. Ignatius"
  • OR = Great for synonyms or variations of the same concept; helps broaden the search while staying within the subject area.
    • "St. Ignatius" OR "Saint Ignatius" 
    • "Château de Versailles" AND "Palace of Versailles"
  • NOT = Exclude an unrelated term, or to weed out irrelevant results.
    • "Nigel Coates" NOT "book review"
  • Another example:
    • history AND ("universal design" OR "inclusive design")

Video: Finding Keywords for Your Topic

This brief video (0:59) from the University Library at UNC Greensboro explains how to turn your research question into useful keywords. 

If you would like more practice with keywords, check out the rest of their tutorial!

PATH: Lighting Your Way From Research to Writing (UNCG Libraries) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0