Keywords are simple words or phrases that sum up your topic, and can usually be pulled from your research question.
Simply eliminate those words and concepts that have no meaning, when on their own (How, does, the, etc.), and you're usually left with 2-3 good keywords to use in your research.
To find information on a topic, you would use one or more of your keywords to search for sources (books, media, articles, etc.) in the library's online catalog or databases.
Every great research paper starts with a good topic, but it's not always so easy to come up with one.
Sometimes your professor will present you with a topic to research, but often you'll be asked to pick a one of your own to pursue.
While you should always be sure to work within the scope of the assignment, these tips can help you find a topic that works for you:
If your topic was exploring how Muslim Americans are treated in the United States, your keywords might include:
You would want to choose those that best define the topic you've chosen, and use them in your database searches. As you do your preliminary research, you'll find that some keywords work better than others, and maybe even discover some new ones to add to your list!
An example of your research question might be:
How have perceptions of Muslim Americans changed in the decade following the attack on the World Trade Center?
Your thesis statement might be:
Immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Muslim Americans were viewed with suspicion by many Americans. Over a decade later, these feelings persist in some, although suspicions have lessend for the majority of Americans.