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Guide to the Research Process: 1c. Identify Keywords

This guide provides an introduction to the skills needed to conduct research, with particular reference to the field of education.


Make a list to keep track of keywords related to your topic. Keep it with you while you do your research.

The keywords you use can have a profound impact on the results of your research. Using the “right” words will speed up the research process, while the “wrong” words may result in a lot of wasted time.

If the keywords you choose initially do not give you the results you need, try the others on your list.

Despite care in choosing keywords, your choice may not coincide with those used in the resources you consult.

Identifying Keywords

Before you can begin searching for information in a print or online resource, you need to identify keywords or concepts related to your topic. Key terminology can be easily be found by scanning:

  • your initial research question,
  • encyclopedia and other articles used when conducting background research, or
  • bibliographies found at the end of books and articles.