Answered By: Corey Buttram
Last Updated: Jan 25, 2016     Views: 92

Keywords are an important part of doing research. Most of our databases will find fewer results if you type in a whole phrase or question and will find more and better results if you type in a few essential words. 

For example, if your research question is "How does gun violence impact schools in Virginia?" it would be best isolate a few important words from that phrase rather than typing the whole question. So a few good keywords might be gun violence, schools, Virginia. You can also try brainstorming some related terms such as shootings, firearms, etc. Then try to organize these keywords from more specific to less specific to your question.

Once you have a list of possible keywords, try different combinations in the database. A database like EBSCO is a good way to try different combinations using the multiple search boxes. Your best bet is to start simple and use one or two of your most specific key words. If you get too few results, take away your least specific keyword; if you get too many results, add another keyword. You can also narrow your search using the options on the right hand side of the screen (by date, article type, language and more).

We hope this helps you get started on your research! If you have more questions or need more help with this topic, ask us, call the library, or visit the library research help desk.