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Research Skills: Step-By-Step: Keywords & Questions

This guide will help you to develop your research skills and better understand the research process.

Developing Research Questions

  • Write down what you already know about the topic.
  • Write down what you don't know.
  • Use that information to develop questions for your research
    • Use probing questions. (why? what if?)
    • Avoid "yes" and "no" questions. 

Developing questions will assist you with finding appropriate keywords.

The keywords you use can have a profound impact on the results of your research.

Using the “right” words will speed up the research process, while the “wrong” words can bring to it to a halt.

Before you can begin searching for information, you need to identify keywords related to your topic.


Keywords can be easily be found by scanning:


  • The assessment outline provided by your lecturer. Check what terms they use.
  • Your own research questions
  • Articles found from your background research
  • Bibliographies found at the end of books and articles

If you are still struggling:

  • Use a thesaurus to identify synonyms
  • Find pictures related to your topic, then describe them
  • Brainstorm keywords with library staff, your lecturer or a fellow student

Image Source:  Clker-Free-Vector-Images. (April 13, 2012). [Magnifying glass] [Image]. Pixabay.

Developing Keywords

Source: Odyssey Learning Project. (2020, February 19). Developing keywords [video]. YouTube.


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