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Education Research Methods

A guide to assist students in EDU 650: Research Methods in Education


Keywords are the words, phrases, and terms we use to describe whatever it is that we're researching.  You'll need a list of keywords to successfully and efficiently search in research databases and other library search tools.

Your research question can be a great framework for brainstorming relevant keywords.  Isolate the main ideas of your research question, and then consider the hints below in thinking about keywords.  Library search tools are very powerful, but they're not intelligent enough to translate your research question into useful results.  Instead, you have to search using words and short phrases.

  1. Think about the topic you want to research. Write down your thesis statement or research question, if you have one.
  2. Now write down any concepts, people, and places that relate to this topic - as single words and short phrases
  3. Write down related words and phrases. Think about words that mean the same thing as the words you've already written.
  4. Write down any dates, acronyms, and abbreviations which relate to this topic.
  5. Use these words alone and combined in different ways to begin searching the databases.
  6. Keep an eye out for additional words and phrases you see as you start searching - add them to your list.

Choosing and Using Keywords

This video from USC San Bernadino does a great job at explaning what keywords are and how to think about them when searching.