Have you ever been searching the library databases but can't find enough research articles for your paper? Or seen the dreaded "no results found" screen? Don't panic! Everyone who has ever written a research paper has experienced this same thing. To start getting more search results you'll need to find more keywords - basically you've got to find the right words that the library database recognizes so it can search for what you want.
How do I find the right keywords to search the library databases? The answer is most of the time it's just takes a bit of time and trial-and-error. But to get started, you need enough keywords to try out searching and then swap if you are coming up short with search results.
Watch the video and start brainstorming keywords or read more about the process and use the worksheet as a guide below.
Portland State University Library. Two minute video explaining how to create effective keywords for searching library databases. Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)
Here are some directions for using this worksheet to brainstorm keywords. Start with your research question or research topic. An example: What kind of sustainability techniques are airports using to reduce carbon emissions? Then ask what are the main or core concepts. I would say: sustainability, airports, emissions. For each of those start listing all the synonyms for those words. (You can always use Google to search for synonyms!)