After choosing your topic and narrowing it down, it’s time to start searching for resources for your literature review. But before you jump into the ocean of books and articles, you need to have a clear idea what you are looking for. Otherwise, you will drown in reading material and end up reading irrelevant things, feeling confused and even worse, start losing interest in your topic. Of course, it is a good idea to read around your topic and look at a variety of sources, but if you are starting off, or you need to focus on a particular theme of your topic, creating a keyword list can be a way to float more easily through all the resources you find as you select the best ones for you.

In this post, I would like to show you how to use a great online keyword generator by the University of Texas at Austin:

I’m going to show you how to use it by giving examples of my research about teenagers and the effects of SNS on communication skills.

1. Create a research topic

Write a sentence, or in my case a question, about your research topic. Try to limit it to one sentence or question. The simpler, the better.

2. Identify key concepts within your research topic

Next, decide which are the important words in your sentence or question. These are the key concepts of your topic.

3. Think of related words for each key concept

Make a list of words that are related to each key concept. You could use:

  • synonyms (a word with a similar meaning)
  • general words that describe the key concept
  • specialist words for the key concept
Related words for ‘SNS’
Related words for ‘teenagers’

Try using a dictionary, a thesaurus or an encyclopaedia to find related words. You might also find related words in articles about your topic.

Here, I used because I couldn’t think of other words to express ‘face-to-face’.

4. Your keywords

Ta-da! After you have typed everything in, it makes a lovely list of keywords for you and ways to combine them for searching online (Google Scholar, Google, Yahoo) or a library catalogue. 

Copy and paste these combinations into your favourite search engines (Google, Yahoo) and library catalogue

If you are planning to use resources in different languages, for example, Japanese and English, make a list for each language. 

Now you’re prepared, it’s time to start searching!