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Course & Subject Guides

Katz Research and Library Introduction

Use this guide to learn about key library resources and services available at Pitt.

Developing Keywords

Identify the important nouns or main ideas in your research question. 

  • Research Question: What is the effect of incorrect health information on social media?

Generate synonyms for each main term, along with words that are narrower, broader, and related.

  • Incorrect information: deceit, manipulation, lies, false, slander, misinformation
  • Social media: online, web, internet, web 2.0, online social networks
  • Health: wellness, doctor, physical wellbeing, medical

Start searching and modify your keywords as necessary. 

  • Pay attention to titles, abstracts, and headings used in the results you find helpful.
  • Some databases provide lists of subject terms, subject headings, or keywords for individual sources. See if you can find those to help add to your own list.

Tip: Keep in mind that keywords are tricky, they will evolve and you'll likely come across better ones as you begin searching. The more you search and learn about your topic, the easier it will be to develop keywords.

Watch this video from the University of Houston Libraries to learn more about this process: