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This is a generic guide to help students with research projects and to learn how to navigate through the wonderful collection of Library resources.

What are keywords?

Keywords are the most important terms about or describe aspects or elements on your topic of research. 


To illustrate this, let's think of the subject "Technology is destroying society."


In order to determine keywords, ask yourself questions about the subject area, like:

  • What kinds of technology are destructive?
  • How are they destructive? How are they non-destructive? (Be specific.)
  • What parts of society does technology impact? And what can you specifically focus on within the parameters of your assignment?

Gather Background Information

Are you an expert? Do you know everything there is to know about your topic? Probably not. 

Finding background information at the beginning of your research is important to help familiarize yourself with the topic. It will allow you to identify a way to approach the topic or question(s) that you may seek to explore or answer in the course of your research and in your paper. Information that may give you more context include:

  • Broad overview of the subject
  • Definitions of the topic
  • Introduction to key issues
  • Names of people who are authorities in the subject field
  • Major dates and events
  • Keywords and subject-specific vocabulary terms that can be used for database searches
  • Bibliographies that lead to additional resources

Here are some great places to start:

We have more to recommend...but that would be TMI! Instead, we encourage you to explore our Research Database pages. They are organized by subject areas. Each page is then separated out based on the type of information need.


Try some of the Reference, Background, and Overview databases.

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