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Subject and Keyword searching: Keyword Searching

This guide how to search using keywords and how to choose the right keywords

Keyword Searching

Searching the world wide web and search engines using keywords is easy and built on a principal that keywords can be used to locate and collect information. 

Searching for a product name in search engines is easy because normally here the product name is the keyword see example

But on the other hand using keywords in the practice of research is not that simple because research topics rarely if ever comes in a single word statement like; you don't usually search for energy using one word it research topics usually comes in the form of a phrase, question, or statement such as: 

The economics of wind energy

What are the renewable energy strategies for sustainable development?

What are the advantages of using solar energy in cooling?

As researchers you have to identify the keywords in the phrase, question, or statement.

How to be a good keyword artist?

The first step is to start simplifying complex ideas.

Look at the phrase or question you need to answer, from that phrase you will create a list of keywords and they will be drawn directly from the question or phrase, remember to always use words that are specific and related to the topic.

From the examples given above we can see that there are multiple approaches to researching that topic. Study the phrase carefully and try to create a list of keywords, this list should be drawn directly from the phrase.

This is the most confusing part, how does anyone determine wether a word is a keyword or not?

Examine the second example and look for unique and identifiable terms or words such as the, is, that, in, of...etc. these terms may be found in any statement or phrase, but words like solar, energy, cooling are considered to be the keywords for your search.

Other words or terms such as geographic locations, country names,...etc. could also be considered as good keywords.

 Advantages of keyword searching:

can easily combine words, terms, concepts with AND, OR, NOT.

Can search phrases and combinations of words and phrases.

Looks in the full record of a source, but may be less relevant.

Do not need to know exact subject headings to get results.

Looks in all parts of a database record: author, title, subject, abstract,....etc.

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