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COLS 101: College Success: Using Keywords

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What Are Keywords?

Keywords are a short significant word or phrase that describe the research you need to do. Another word for keywords is search terms. You use keywords when searching periodical databases.

Identifying Keywords

The easiest way to identify keywords is to first put your research topic in the form of a sentence or question.

Example: Texting while driving is a dangerous activity.

The most important keywords in this sentence are:

Texting while driving is a dangerous activity.

You usually don't want to use more than 3 keywords when looking for articles, so pick out the most important and relevant keywords.

Another hint for keywords is that you remember to identify synonyms, or words that are similar and could mean the same thing.

Example: Teenagers should not text while driving.

You might think of the word teenagers.

The periodical databases may think of that word differently, so also try:

Teens
Young adults
Adolescents

Every time you search with a different word, you will get different results, so it's important that you identify different combinations!

Use quotation marks for phrases! "Young adults" and "texting while driving."