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WAB Faculty & Staff

ES PYPX: Inquiry Process: Creating keywords


Before you start searching for information (sources), you need to choose good keywords for your search. Keywords are common words (but not words such as: of, and, the) that describe the main idea of your topic or question. Three or 4 keywords are usually most helpful.  

It doesn't take too much time to choose good keywords. Plus, it will save you heaps of time and frustration later in your research process. The right combination of keywords can be the difference between finding good information and finding nothing. 

The easiest way to choose keywords is to write out your topic sentance or research question and select only the words that describe your topic/question: 

What are the causes and consequences of a harsh environment?

For example:

What are the causes and consequences of harsh environments?

The words that are left are:

causes consequences harsh environments

Next, come up with as many words that words that:

  • mean the same thing (synonyms) (Hint: Try using a thesaurus) or
  • are similar words or
  • are related words

For example:

causes consequences harsh environments
sources effects severe habitat
origin result extreme conditions

Keyword practice