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Brainstorming Keywords

To discover keywords that can be used in a search, examine your topic, which you already have stated in the form of a question, and try the following steps.


First, isolate the key concepts within your research topic. For example, if my topic is "How does the portrayal of women within advertisements affect girls' self-image?" my key concepts are:

  • Women
  • Advertisements
  • Girls
  • Self-Image
  • Women: females
  • Advertisements: commercials, media, advertising
  • Girls: adolescents, young women
  • Self-Image: self-esteem, body image, self perception

Finally, think of terms that don't mean the same thing, but which are related to your concepts:
Images courtesy of Taki Steve
  • Women: feminine
  • Advertisements: supermodel, marketing, actress
  • Girls: school-aged girls, teenagers, children
  • Self-Image: weight, beauty standards

What is the point of this? Remember, you don't know how an author of a book or an article might have described the topic that you are researching. Creating a search by using many words, not just the first that pop into your head, will help you cast a wide net and retrieve relevant results.


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