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Communication: Keyword Selection and the Research Question

Keyword Selection Tips

1. Determine your research topic. Often times, this can/will be phrased as a research question.

2. Identify the main ideas or concepts of your topic.

3. Build a keyword list. Start with your main ideas or concepts, and then try to come up with as many synonyms or related terms for each main idea or concept that you can.

4. Following this, it's time to search! Selecting the proper database(s) to perform your search will drastically impact your results. If it's your first time trying this style of search, or you just want to take a peek at what's out there, try Academic Search Complete. Subject LibGuides, your librarian, and professor may be able to help you select appropriate databases.

Don't get discouraged if your search returns few results: depending on how specialized your research topic is, you may need to try a more specialized database, alter your keywords, or try different combinations. Visit Bailey Library's Research Services or Request an appointment with your Personal Librarian for assistance!

Sample Keyword Selection Process

Determine Your Research Topic or Question

Do high school student athletes have higher or lower grades than their non-athlete peers?

Identify Main Ideas or Concepts

Do high school students athletes have higher or lower grades than their non-athlete peers?

Build a Key Word List

Concept 1: High School Main Idea 2: Student Athletes Main Idea 3: Grades

secondary school

interscholastic

Grades 9 - 12

athletes

sport or sports players

**you may want to try individual sport player i.e. football players, basketball players, etc.

Marks

Test Scores

Scores (this might get tricky)*

Grade Point Average

Grading Scale

Search using combinations of the above terms

At this point, you may want to make a list of where you're searching or where you plan to search. You could also work out how to combine these search terms in different ways, perhaps with Boolean Operators.

Video: The Research Question

Video: Keywords are Critical

Video: Article Database Searching