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.
Keywords in Art
Consider the following when building your list of keywords:
- Brainstorm terms based on what words you hope to find in the perfect article.
- Consider synonyms for key terms or any terms that are interchangeable.
- What terminology suggests to you that the author knows what they're talking about?
- Broad concepts: three dimensional (or three-dimensional), sculpture, abstract art, figure or figurative, assemblage, naturalism
- Form: chair, clock, mobile, portrait, shoe
- Media: marble, wood, wire
- Movements: Optical Art, Kinetic Art, Minimalism, Surrealism
- Artist name: Alexander Calder, Sonya Delaunay, Frank Gehry, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Therrien
Art Search Examples
Many library resources offer the option to combine your keywords using AND, OR, & NOT. This can also be useful when searching online.
- AND = all words must be present; helps limit the search
- "Alexander Calder" AND wire
- OR = great for synonyms or variations of the same concept; helps broaden the search while staying within the subject area
- 3D OR "three dimensional" OR "three-dimensional"
- NOT = exclude an unrelated term, or to weed out irrelevant results
- "Alexander Calder" NOT sculpture
- Another example:
- "Alexander Calder" AND kinetic (NOT sculpture)
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!