ELP Advanced Writing Tools

English Writing Program (ELP) Advanced Writing for Research

Library Research Guide

The Importance of Keywords

Good keywords are essential to good research. Many search engines and databases don't understand full sentences.  So you can't enter your full topic sentence and expect to get good results. You need to identify the most important words in your topic sentence and use those to search. For example, the most important words, or keywords, are underlined below:

Your topic sentence: 
The Current Effects of Deforestation on the Mountain Gorilla in South-West Uganda.

The more keywords you can think of, the more likely you will find what you are looking for. To accomplish this, you can use synonyms to expand your research.


Advice on Synonyms:

A synonym is a "word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase."

  • Synonyms make your list of keywords longer.
  • More keywords = better searching = more results.

Note: Not all of the results you get from synonym searching will be directly related to your topic, but they can broaden your understanding of a given concept.