Skip to Main Content

WR121 Ormandy

A Course Guide for Leslie Ormandy's WR121 students.

What are Search Keywords?

Search Keywords are mostly nouns and short phrases (2 or 3 words that make up a single idea). Keywords are not full sentences.

Write out your prompt

The first step to brainstorming search terms is having an initial topic or thesis statement to work with. Not there yet? Spend five minutes choosing a focused topic, then come back here.

Ready?

Step 1. Take a piece of paper or open up a document and write down your topic or thesis statement.

Example:

Research question: What is the relationship between COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and vaccination rates?

Step 2. Circle or highlight the most important individual ideas that make up your topic.

Example:

Research question with key terms circled: COVID-19, vaccine misinformation, and vaccination rates.

Words you don't need to search for and why: 

  • it, to, and, of - articles and prepositions can usually be ignored because they are so common.
  • should, be, use, for, relationship - adjectives and words that indicate a relationship between two ideas can usually be ignored because they may eliminate otherwise relevant results from your search. The more search terms you add to your search, the fewer results you will get.
  • pro, con, for, against - rather than using words that convey opinions about topics, use nouns that help you learn about your topic(s) from every angle.

Brainstorm Search Keywords

Step 3. Think about other words or phrases that have similar meanings to each idea – basically, brainstorm synonyms. Write down at least one similar or related term for each idea.

Brainstormed search terms. COVID-19, coronavirus, COVID pandemic. Vaccine misinformation, conspiracy theories, rumors, disinformation. Vaccination rates, immunization rates.

If you’re having a tough time thinking of terms, do a basic search on the main idea. (In this example, COVID vaccine misinformation might be the main idea.) Skim through an article or webpage for additional or alternate terms – sometimes seeing how an author writes about a topic helps.

Clackamas Community College Library - 19600 Molalla Avenue, Oregon City, Oregon 97045
Reference: 503-594-6042     |     reference@clackamas.edu     |     Circulation: 503-594-6323
Library Hours     |     Moodle     |     myClackamas     |     FAQ
Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, content in these research guides is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Link broken? Information need updating? Have website feedback? Please email reference@clackamas.edu