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English 201 Horsley Research Guide: Keywords

Generating Keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that describe your research topic. They are used to search for information in databases. When searching for information, you want to employ a variety of search terms because there are multiple ways of describing the same topic.

Start with a question that summarizes and focuses your research topic and identify key concepts associated with the question. Then, generate a list of synonyms and related terms. 

Example: "How does the production of ethanol affect the food supply?"

Idenfity synonyms for key concepts.

ethanol food supply
biofuels food sources
alternative fuels food prices
energy crops commodities


Identify related concepts: agriculture, land use, energy, hunger, corn, maize, government policy

Subject-Specific Databases

Briggs Library provides access to over 200 databases. While general databases cover a broad range of topics, other library databases limit their coverage to certain topic areas. These subject-specific databases are valuable for in-depth and scholarly research. Briggs Library has research guides which recommend databases in different subject areas.

The topics which pertain to "Man and the Environment" can vary considerably and so will the databases you may want to consult. For example, if you are researching the effects of isolation on women during the settlement of the West you may want to consult the History and Sociology Research Guides to identify subject-specific databases.  If you are researching the how non-native fish species are affecting midwestern lakes and rivers you may want to consult the Natural Resources Management research guide.

Consult the library's Research Guides to identify recommended databases in a variety of subject areas.

The GREENFLE database focuses on environmental issues and the Agricola database focuses on agriculture. You may find them useful for your "Man and the Environment" paper.

Research 101

For more information on the research process consult the library's Research 101 guide.

Using the Library's Quick Search

On the library's home page use the Quick Search option to access PRIMO Discovery Service.  Quick Search searches a number of the library's databases simultaneously. Results will include records for books, articles, ebooks and other source types.

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