UMGC Library

Research Tutorial

What Are Keywords?

Once you have a working research question or thesis statement, you can begin to identify keywords for searching the library databases. These words, often nouns, express the key concepts (main ideas) of your research question or thesis statement. The more specific your keywords, the better chance you will have of finding the most relevant sources for your research. You will want to avoid using verbs, adjectives, or adverbs because they are not specific enough words to find useful sources. If your research question is: 

What are the effects of using social media in the online classroom?

 

The key concepts identified as most important would be:

social media
online classroom

 

You will want to avoid the vague term "effect" from your list of keywords.

What are the effects of using social media in the online classroom?  The word "effects" is crossed out. The phrases "social media" and "online classroom" are circled.