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Keyword Searching

A guide to how to do keyword searching.

Forming a Research Question

In order to identify keywords, you need to have a research question. Having a research question is much easier than just a topic. Topics are often too broad to give you relevant results.

To create a research question, think about the parameters of your assignment. Is there an area that you are particularly interested in? Pick a broad topic that you find interesting--remember that you are going to be spending time researching this topic.

Say you picked the topic "video games." Now we need to focus your topic. To do this, ask the 4 W's:

  • When?
  • Where?
  • What?
  • Who?

So say you choose:

  • The last 10 years
  • USA
  • Violence
  • Children

Form this information into a question:

Are children who play video games more likely to be violent?

Identifying Keywords

To choose keywords for your search, look at your research question:

Are children who play video games more likely to be violent?

Choose words from within your question that are the most important to your search. So, in this example, you would choose "children," "video games," and "violent."


You can then use these words to search any of our databases. You might try typing "video games" in the first box and "violence" in the second search box. To narrow your results even further, try typing "children" in the third search box.

You can also try using alternative search terms for these keywords. Go to the "Using Alternative Keywords" tab of this LibGuide to learn more.