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ENGL 1101 Davenport Fall 2023: Search Terms

Search Terms intro

Search terms, also known as keywords, will be used as you look for information resources.

Using the Research Map: Search Terms

1. Highlight or underline the most important words in your research questions or statements. (Hint: They're often the nouns.)

2. Choose at least two words from your research statements or questions that you'd like to explore further.

3. Write these terms as column headings on your research map.

4. Brainstorm possible synonyms or related terms and write them on your map.

  • Synonyms = mean the same thing
  • Related terms = not exactly the same, but close

Pro Tip: Adding more search terms

Add to your list of search terms as you go through the research process:

  • Words used in your readings
  • Subject terms
  • Suggested terms that auto-fill the search box

Research Map: Search Terms



Focused Ideas: Research Question or Statement


Search Terms / Keywords




Topic:          Hint:  General topic, doesn't need to be specific.

Who? Hint: Who is affected by this topic? (demographics)
What? Hint: Impact or aspects of the topic
When? Hint: The timeframe of interest. If “now” how far back will the info be accurate?
Where? Hint: This could be the United States, a particular area, or a comparison of one or more areas. (May or may not be important.)
Why? Hint: What is the significance or importance of this topic to you or the reader?

Focused Ideas: Research Question or Statement

Use combinations of words from your 5Ws to create possible focused research ideas.

Keyword #1 Keyword #2 Keyword #3

Synonym or related term for #1

Synonym or related term for #1

Synonym or related term for #1

Synonym or related term for #2

Synonym or related term for #2

Synonym or related term for #2

Synonym or related term for #3

Synonym or related term for #3

Synonym or related term for #3



Topic:       Cosmetic Surgery


teens, celebrities, Pamela Anderson, actors, cancer survivors

What? body image, role model, medical necessity, physical or psychological discomfort, pressure to be beautiful
When? Now (last 5 years?), since 2000, within 1 year

United States, worldwide, Instagram, Los Angeles


Necessity, cost/expense, bullying, expectations of beauty or youth, health risks, wanting to fit into clothes.

Focused Ideas: Research Question or Statement

  • What are some health risks of teens having cosmetic surgery
  • Should teens consider plastic surgery as a solution to a bad body image?
  • Teens should only have plastic surgery if medically necessary.
  • Teens should be discouraged from cosmetic surgery because the health risks are too great.

Search Terms/ Keywords

Teens Cosmetic Surgery Body Image



Young Adults

High School Students

Plastic Surgery


nose job

breast augmentation

breast reduction




mental health