ENGL 200 - Expository Writing II - Salina Campus

This is an Expos II research guide for students enrolled on the Salina Campus. This guide is built around core assignments in the class.

Library Research Guide

Choosing Keywords

This page will provide some strategies for keyword selection. Once you've identified your topic, it will be necessary to break down concepts within the topic into keywords that can be used to search for sources. 

Why Keywords?

  • Choosing and varying your search terms or keywords is essential to quality research. It's what separates a superficial search of sources that anyone can find from a thoughtful, thorough search that answers an interesting question.
  • Using different combinations of synonyms, phrases, and broad and precise terms will yield the best results. Don't stick with one set of keywords. Use the tags and vocabulary from the close-enough sources to help you find more specific, relevant sources.
  • Using Boolean operators: Dogs AND cats is a more limited search for material with BOTH terms. Dogs OR cats is a wider search for anything with either word. Pets NOT dogs will remove results with the word dog, but include all other pets.

Why Synonyms?

Synonyms help you work from broad to narrow and back to broad searching. Sources written for general audiences will use different terms from sources written for scholarly audiences. Look at the example below to get an idea of how synonyms can broaden your understanding of a given concept.

Keyword: Behavior

Synonyms (alternate keywords): Temperament, Demeanor, Conduct, Bearing, Etiquette, Comportment, Conduct, Attitude, etc...

Using Punctuation in keyword searching:

  • Use quotations marks for phrases, such as "climate change."
  • Most other punctuation is ignored.
  • See "wildcard" searching info to expand searches or when spelling has many variations:

 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 be adaptable in your thinking.
•    Use a thesaurus to help generate synonyms.