A keyword is a word that you commonly use to describe your subject. When you search a catalog or database, your search results are a list of books or articles that match the keywords you used. Finding the right words is the "key" to successful research!
Ways to brainstorm keywords:
Use this checklist as you consider topics:
___ Did you review the expectations for the paper/project? Does your topic meet the expectations?
___ Is your topic interesting to you?
___ Will you be able to find enough quality sources on this topic? (see video below)
___ If the paper/project requires you to write at length--let's say 5 pages--ask yourself if you can write 5 pages of quality content on your topic?
As you consider these questions, do some preliminary reading about your topic. Even brief background reading (CQ Researcher/Wikipedia) will help you understand some of the basic concepts, terms and scope of your topic.
Source: NCSU Libraries
These sources will give you an overview of a topic and some ideas of ways that you can pursue the topic in more detail.
Use background research to locate key information on your topic, including the following:
Key words: what words are commonly associated with your topic?
Names of organizations and people associated with your topic: Is there a professional association that might have information regarding your topic? Are there authors that frequently write on your topic?
Important dates associated with your topic: Is anything about your topic date-specific, such as the date of enactment of key legislation or the date of a scientific breakthrough?
Web sites that may have information about your topic: is there a affiliated web site of a government agency or a professional association that could lead you to other sources?
Sources cited in the bibliography of your "background" article: are there scholarly sources such as books or journal articles that may be used in your paper?