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Writing 10 (Porter, Spring 2024)

College Reading & Composition

Selecting and Using Keywords

University of West Florida, John C. Pace Library, 3:50

As you watch the video, consider:

  1. What do you put in a database’s search box?
  2. What is a keyword?
  3. How do you go from a research question to a keyword?
  4. How many keywords should you use?
  5. What are some strategies for developing related keywords?

Identify Key Concepts and Terms

Identify the key concepts in your topic:

How do hacking and cyberattacks on banks in the United States impact bank customers and banking services?

Brainstorm for related terms:


  • cyberterrorist
  • cyberpunk


  • banking
  • financial institutions: insurance, finance, investment firms


  • clients
  • services

Try Academic Search Complete > Subject Terms to find subject headings for your topic.

Tips for Finding Keywords & Subject Headings

  • Use a visual thesaurus like GraphWords. Snappy Words, Visuwords, or CREDO's MindMap.
  • Use references sources like Credo Reference to get background information and key words.
  • Most EBSCO databases have a tool to help you discover subject terms. See EBSCO Academic Search Complete > Subject Terms
  • Most ProQuest databases have a tool to help you discover subject terms: See PsycInfo > Thesaurus
  • When you find a useful article, look at the database Subject Headings and record them as possible search terms.