Brainstorm Some Keyword Terms

Before using the library databases, it is important to select the most important keywords from your thesis statement. Let’s look for them in our previous research statement:

How does the issue of child care affect the quality of life for single custodial grandmothers?

When conducting this exercise, it helps to write down the words expressing your main concepts as headers and to list the related words and synonyms for each one as displayed in the following chart:

day care well being unmarried custodial grandmothers
babysitter(s) lifestyle widowed custodial grandmothers
preschool living conditions divorced custodial grandmothers
Headstart wellness unwed custodial grandmothers


Remember to include such variations of keywords as plurals, alternate spellings, or abbreviations. For example, well being could be spelled as wellbeing or well-being.

Trouble Brainstorming?

If you have trouble coming up with a topic or its keywords:

  • Check a subject encyclopedia for ideas and concepts.
  • Do some exploratory searches in an interdisciplinary research database like Academic Search Complete.
  • Look at the abstracts or summaries of articles that interest you.
  • Look at their subject terms for possible keywords.

If you need help, ask a reference librarian!

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