Building a list of keywords for your search is a process. The following video is a brief overview that highlights this process.
When developing your keywords in the following sections, keep in mind that:
The key concepts of your search should be clearly reflected by the research question. If they are not easily identifiable, consider rephrasing your question.
Example Research Question (Main Concepts Underlined)
Next, create a list of keywords that are synonymous or related to the main concepts that you've identified.
To generate a comprehensive list, refer to a dictionary, thesaurus, and relevant articles, and apply the following strategies:
The list of keywords that you generate and use in your search are called your "search terms".
When developing your research question, you should have examined existing synthesis reviews to ensure that your question was novel. When developing your search, examining existing reviews is for a different purpose: informing your search strategy.
Many published synthesis reviews are required to append a copy of their search strategies. Look at the terminology that is used in reviews on related topics, even if not all concepts or elements of the paper are relevant.
To identify existing search strategies, you will:
You can find similar reviews by searching for them the same way that you did in our guide for Finding Relevant Reviews.