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General Mathematics Education: Choosing Keywords

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Choosing Keywords

This section will walk you through how to choose keywords for your search strategy.

1. Extract single words or short phrases.

You will not use complete sentences as you would in normal conversation to search. Leave out minor words such as articles ("a," "an," or "the") and prepositions or verb phrases ("on," "in," or "going to").

Also, use nouns (person, place, or thing) as keywords. Avoid verbs (action words) and use adjectives (descriptive words) sparingly.

2. Experiment with different synonyms.

Try thinking of synonyms (words that have the same meaning as another word) of your keywords. For example, you start with the word "trash," but you could also experiment with using the words "garbage" or “waste.” An online or printed thesaurus is a great place to find synonyms.

3. Think of related terms to describe your topic.

What are some other topics or areas related to your thesis? These may be worthy of consideration if you are having trouble finding good keywords or if you want to further refine your research focus. For example, some related terms to "pollution" are "acid rain," "global warming," or "refuse water." The related terms may be more specific or less specific than the original terms in your thesis. Each combination will change the number and type of your search results.

Video - How Library Stuff Works: How to Choose Keywords

Electronic Books/Reference Works

MSU Libraries provides access to many electronic books.  Look in the library catalog to find them.  Included are e-books from these platforms: