Keywords and Synonyms
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- hospital AND design
- psychology AND color AND healing AND architecture
- dementia AND "home environments"
- OR = Great for synonyms or variations of the same concept; helps broaden the search while staying within the subject area.
- "universal design" OR "inclusive design"
- "office setting" OR "office space" or "offices" OR workplace OR "work environment"
- "healthcare environments" OR "healing environments"
- NOT = Exclude an unrelated term, or to weed out irrelevant results.
- "Lois Weinthal" NOT "book review"
- "learning environments" NOT digital
- Additional examples:
- history AND ("universal design" OR "inclusive design")
- ("interior design" OR architecture) AND color AND healing
- (classroom OR "learning environment") AND (AHD or ADHD)
Video: Finding Keywords for Your Topic
This brief video (0:59) from the University Library at UNC Greensboro demonstrates 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 Closed captioning added by K-State Libraries.