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LBST 307: Children and the Environment (Summer 2020)

Selecting Keywords for your Research

undefinedBefore you embark on your database search, take a few moments to identify keywords, which will be a timesaver for you. Some things to try:

  • Write down any research questions you have about your topic; these should be open-ended (starting with How...? or Why...?)
  • Identify the key concepts from your research question (look at the nouns)
  • Write down synonyms for those key concepts

Taking a few minutes to think about and identify some keywords before starting your search will help you search more efficiently, which will save you time (and frustration).

  • Identify important concepts from your research question (look for nouns)
  • Brainstorm some synonyms (to help you find more information)
  • Keep track of useful terms you discover during research and add those to your set of keywords

Ex. research question: How are youth building critical climate justice movements?

(Identify the keywords in this research question)

How are youth building critical climate justice movements?

youth BIPOC climate justice activism
child* Black, Indigenous and People of Color climate change social justice
adolescent marginalized global warming community organizing
teen* racial minority activism environmental*


Tips on Searching the Databases

Here are some general tips on searching for articles for your essay:

Tip Examples
Use keywords, not long search phrases

Instead of searching for "How are youth building critical climate justice movements?" break down your search into the main keywords:

youth, BIPOC, climate justice, social movements

Use quotation marks (" ") to keep phrases together

Use AND to combine different keywords

"climate change" and BIPOC and (youth or child*)
Use OR to combine similar/associated keywords "climate change" or "global warming"
Look for ways to limit your search in the database You can often limit by type of article (scholarly and peer-reviewed), year of publicationsubject