Skip to main content
Research Guides Databases A-Z Library Catalog Ask a Librarian Library Home Page SUNY New Paltz

Student Research Guide

Choosing Keywords

Keywords are words related to your topic that will help you find information when searching library resources. You will want to use more than one keyword in order to find the best information.

Separate your topic into concepts. If your research question is "Many college students work while going to school. Does their work life have any effect on their grades?" your keywords will include:

  • college students
  • work
  • grades

Brainstorm synonyms or related terms for each concept. Think about words that may be more or less "formal" than your initial keywords (for example, "employment" is a more formal way of saying "job" or "work")

  • college students -- synonyms: university students, freshmen, first-year students
  • work -- synonyms: employment, jobs, occupation, vocation, labor
  • grades -- synonyms: grade point average, achievement, academic success, graduation rates