December 31st, 2009

Keywords are Key for Finding Relevant Results

Determining the right keywords for your search is essential. Keywords are the building blocks of your search and will either make or break your search. Databases are precise matching tools. When you’re typing keywords in the databases you’re going to get results that use the exact words and phrases you searched. “Garbage in, garbage out” when it comes to keyword searching. Poor keywords will produce poor results.

Some of your topic words may have the appearance of being good keywords, but it’s good to learn to recognize the words that are unproductive for searching . Words such as impact, effects, benefits, consequences and so on, are words that are referred to as Bucket Terms because they are too generic. We all want to use these bucket terms, but authors use very specific words when they write, like the pebbles that fill the bucket.

For example: You may want to know the effects of Hurricane Katrina, but authors aren’t using the word “effects.” Their papers are going to focus on the specific outcomes instead. They’re using words like flooding, fire, drowning, looting, homelessness, displacement, and insurance losses. They may never use the word effects, even though that’s the point of their article. Using the specific terms will be much more effective.



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