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IDIS 435: Keywords

Discovering Keywords

What are Keywords?

Keywords or key phrases are used to locate books or articles in the library catalog or journal databases. Before we start deploying them, it's helpful to get an understanding of how people are talking about your topic. That way, you will be able to be specific. For example:

Your topic might be GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). 

There is a lot of information about GMOs. More than you would be able to use in this project. You will need to refine your topic to something smaller in order to focus on the scholarly conversation. The module in the  Discovering Keywords box (to the right) will help you do just that. 

How to use keywords:

Use keywords when searching the web:

Use keywords when searching for a book:


Keywords are especially useful when searching library databases for articles. Based off what you are focusing your search on, combine different keywords and plug them into the search boxes.

Try multiple searches and different combinations of keywords to get different results. Some common tricks when searching databases: use quotations to search for the exact phrase (video games versus "video games") or use an asterisk (wild card) to search all forms of a word (using advertis* to search advertise, advertising, or other forms).

To expand a search, try changing the drop-down from AND to OR (these are called Boolean Operators). This is an instance you may want to use a synonym or similar word.

If you are getting too many irrelevant results try changing the drop-down to NOT (another Boolean Operator) to exclude that word or set of words from the results.