Because every topic of discipline has its own jargon, coming up with lists of keywords will be an integral part of your search process. The more keywords you use to search, the more accurate and successful your search will be. There are a few different ways to find the right keywords to use in your search, but the first step is to consider your research topic and start there:
Think about what concepts you are looking for. For example, if you are interested in feminist books in nineteenth century England, you might search for feminism AND literature AND nineteenth century England.
- Try and come up with a list of synonyms or other related terms for your research topic. For example, you might search for
- feminism OR "women's rights"
- literature OR novels OR pamphlets
- "nineteenth century" OR "19th century" OR 1800s OR Victorian
- England OR Britain
- Do not worry if you cannot come up with a lot of synonyms or related terms on your own. This is a good time to start doing general background research on your topic to help find these words. Start on Google, or try an online encyclopedia. See if you can find related terms there. Encyclopedias might also provide ideas for narrowing down your topic. A typical academic paper does not cite encyclopedias. Use encyclopedias to find ideas for what to research.
- Once you gather some general ideas about your research topic, move on to more in-depth resources such as research articles, which you can find in places like the WPI Library Search, Google Scholar, and Library Subject-Specific databases. These articles will often contain additional helpful keywords you can use to expand your search.