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Writing 10 (Varnot): Brainstorming Keywords

College Reading & Writing

How Do I Decide What to Type in the Search Box?

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 might not be commonly used today.
  • Stick to using 2-4 nouns when searching.


How can schools reduce racial bias in school punishments?

  • What are the two main concepts?
  • Can you come up with related words for these?







How to Choose Keywords

McMaster Libraries (2:42)

Worksheet Actvity

  • Write down the 2-4 key concepts from your current topic / question across the top row.
  • Write down any related words for each concept in the columns below that you think would be helpful for you to search.
  • Switch papers with a partner. For context, tell your partner a little bit about your research question or topic.
  • Partners, are there are other words or phrases that could help your partner? Please list those for them.