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Library Research Skills for Land and Food Systems

Keywords = search terms

How can I use this?

Learning to brainstorm keywords leads to better searches, which allows you to find what you need more quickly and more efficiently.

Keywords = search terms

To start your research paper, you need to begin looking for sources. For an effective search, you need to use keywords, which are the building blocks of academic searching. There are two steps to good keyword formation:
  • Pinpoint the main concepts that compose your question
  • Expand each of those terms by brainstorming synonyms, related words and/or variant spellings.
RESEARCH QUESTION: For example, here is a research question:
WHAT ARE THE KEY ISSUES
IN FOOD SECURITY
FOR CANADA?
MAIN CONCEPTS: The main concepts of this question are:
  • FOOD SECURITY
  • CANADA

We start with our first concept: food security. Then we brainstorm for similar keywords by using a concept map.

 
KEYWORDS: If you were to include synonyms, related words and variant spellings, the search terms might be:

WHAT ARE THE KEY ISSUES
IN FOOD SECURITY
FOR CANADA?

 

Image Credits: [1] [2]

1. ↑ Gaber, S. Horn of plenty [online]. Available from http://openclipart.org/detail/8717/horn-of-plenty-by-johnny_automatic-8717/
2. ↑ SunKing2. Canada map [online]. Available from http://openclipart.org/detail/148351/canada-map-by-sunking2