Skip to Main Content

The Research Process of Information Literacy

Select Your Search Terms

In order to effectively search for information, whether in the library databases or on the Internet, it is best to use keywords instead of questions or long phrases. Keywords are the most important words in your topic statement; they define what your topic statement is about. Keywords are in bold in the following topic statement: 

"Impact of the Black Death on the cultural and economic life of medieval Europe"

The more keywords you can think of to describe your topic, the better! Each database or index uses different keywords to describe particular subjects, so the more keywords you identify to use in your searches, the more likely you are to find information that is related to your topic. One database may use the keyword "Black Death," while another may use "Black Plague." Make a list of keywords for each main idea in your topic statement.

Watch the following video and use the accompanying handout below to help you identify keywords from your topic to use in your searches.

Developing Keywords for Database Searches - Video

Developing Keywords for Database Searches - Handout