Brainstorming keywords

Come up with specific keywords before you start searching.

Brainstorming keywords

To come up with keywords, identify the most important words in your research question or topic.

What is the relationship between the New Zealand film industry and the New Zealand tourism industry?

In the research question above, the most important keywords are:"Film industry", "Tourism industry", and "New Zealand".

You could start searching the library's databases with just these keywords, but you may need to expand your search by brainstorming related words for each keyword. These could be: 

  • Narrower words
  • Broader words
  • Ideas that are related to your topic 
  • Synonyms (words that mean the same thing)

Take a look at the table below to see what other words we could use for 2 of our keywords. 

Keyword 1: Film industry Keyword 2: New Zealand
Broader: Entertainment industry Synonym: Aotearoa
Narrower: Weta Studio Broader: Australasia, Common Wealth
Related: Peter Jackson Narrower: Wellington

As you search for sources using the keywords, you will identify new keywords from abstracts, subject terms and titles. You can revise your searches with new keywords and continue the process until you find relevant sources.