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How to Research: Select Search Words

Just getting started on a research paper or project? Don't know where to start? This is the guide for you!

Select Search Words

When doing research, your chances of finding relevant information can be improved by brainstorming and selecting good search words or keywords.

Keywords are:

  • typically nouns
  • the main points of your topic

Don't forget to think of synonyms for your keywords as well.

Start With Your Research Statement or Question

Getting Started!

Step 1

Take a look at your research question or statement and note the main terms.

What is the effect of sleep deprivation on the grades of post-secondary students?

Words highlighted in green are the main terms.

Step 2

Think of synonyms or related words. E.g.:

  • Sleep deprivation: sleep disturbance, sleep difficulty, sleep loss
  • Grades: academic achievement, academic performance
  • Post-secondary students: college students, university students

Be sure to consider:

  • alternate spellings
  • abbreviations
  • plurals
  • synonyms
  • alternate scientific or technical terms


Brainstorming keywords doesn't stop! 

As you research your topic, be sure to make note of relevant search words that you come across along the way. 

    How to Improve Your Search

    Short video of tips from Brock University Library.