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Sociology 245: Sociology of Health (Polonijo)

Updated for Spring 2024 by Bronwen Maxson

Brainstorming Keywords (Infographic)


  • Search exact phrases by using quotation marks
  • Use broader or narrower terms and related words as synonyms

Break Down Your Topic / Question

The words you type into the search box affect your search results. Not all authors use the same language to describe similar topics, so you will need to try a variety of searches.

  • Create a list of possible words that could appear in a book or article related to your topic of interest.
  • Come up with synonyms or related terms for those.
  • If you're researching a topic from an historical point of view, it may also be helpful to come up with historical terms that may be pejorative today.
  • Stick to using 2-4 concepts when searching.

How to Choose Keywords

McMaster Libraries (2:42)


Sample research question:

In adults, is screening for depression and feedback of results to providers more effective than no screening and feedback in improving outcomes of major depression in primary care settings?

The important terms related to my research question might include:

  • Adults
  • Screening
  • Feedback
  • Outcomes
  • Major depression
  • Primary Care

(From Lackey, M. (2013). Systematic reviews: Searching the literature [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from