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CNX 100 - Information Literacy Guide

What is a Keyword?

Keywords describe the main concepts that you are researching. Enter Keywords into search engines to find useful resources. The right keywords can make your search easier. Searching will use different combinations of keywords to find different resources. A good keyword search will involve a degree of trial and error as you experiment with finding the best keywords for your topic. 

Video brought to you by Rebecca Crown Library at Dominican University. 

Words Matter - Keywords and Bias

The words we use to describe what we are looking for directly relate to what we find. If you are searching with terms that only one group of people uses to describe an issue, you will only find resources written by these people. 

For example:

What do you call a sugary, carbonated beverage? 

Depending on where you are from, you'll likely use words like pop, soda, or coke. If you search for articles with google using these words, you'll likely find articles from various parts of the country, because journalists will use the terms that their audience is familiar with in their writing. 

However, if you try to search for pop or soda in one of the Library's scholarly databases, you will have a hard time finding what you are looking for. This is because scholars don't tend to refer to these sugary beverages as colloquial pop, soda, or coke. They tend to use more formal language where "soft drinks" is the keyword that you will want to use when looking for scholarly articles on soda pop. 

What you can do:

  • Run multiple searches with a variety of terms. 
  • Review course readings for terms used
  • Evaluate the sources you find for bias
  • Consider using a Boolean "Or" search. (What's that? Take a look)