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 contributions do female playwrights make to New Zealand theatre companies?

In the research question above, the most important keywords are: "female playwrights", "theatre companies", 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: Playwright Keyword 2: New Zealand
Synonym: Dramatist Synonym: Aotearoa
Broader: Theatre practitioner Broader: Australasia, Common Wealth
Related: Dramaturg 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.