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InfoSkills1: Defining Your Topic

Selecting keywords

Once you have done some brainstorming and background reading, you need to select the most relevant keywords for your topic. These keywords could be:

  • in your research question
  • synonyms (words with a similar meaning)
  • related terms
  • words with the opposite meaning, eg. While stress and well being are opposites, they may both return relevant results on strategies for dealing with stress


Managing keywords for future use

It's a good idea to organise your keywords to help you with the next part of the research process - searching!

You can do this by creating a mind map or concept map, table, list or whatever method works for you. Recording your keywords helps you remember which ones relate to the different concepts you need to search, and makes it easy to copy and paste your terms into the search box. This is especially helpful if you are repeating the same search in different databases.

You will probably discover more keywords once you start searching, and find that some keywords produce better search results than others. Feel free to add keywords to your list as you search, and highlight the ones you find particularly useful. 


handwashinghand washing, hand disinfection, hand hygiene …

patient carepatient safety, hospital, healthcare …

method, procedure, technique, program …

InfoSkills Toolkit

To keep going through the InfoSkills Toolkit, you can jump to:

Toolkit Home | Defining Your Topic | Searching for Resources | Evaluating Resources | Referencing

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