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Researching in the Humanities: Step 2: Identifying Keywords

Steps, tips and library tools to help you with your Humanities Research

Select Keywords to Describe your Topic

Now that you have consulted background sources you should be able to identify key vocabulary associated with your research topic and are now ready to choose more specific keywords that you can use to search for even more specific information.  Using the “right” words will speed up your searching and help you to obtain relevent information.

Example Research Topic:  The Role of Women in an Islamic Society

Identify the main concepts or keywords that describe your research topic and write them down.  In this case the initial keywords are:  Women,  Islam

Next,  write down any synonyms, related words or concepts, broader (more general), and narrower (more specific) terms you have identified by brainstorming and consulting background material.  These will help you revise your search if your initial attempt is not successful.  TipNot every keyword will have synonyms, broader and narrower terms.  To provide yourself with searching options, brainstorm as many terms as you reasonably can.

Keyword  Related Terms Broader Terms  Narrower Terms
Islam Muslim, islamic religion, law Quran, Qur'an, Hadith
Women female, woman  gender, sex roles   girls, feminism


STEP 3: Finding Information-->