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How do I find keywords?

Finding good keywords is one of the most important and difficult things to do when searching. Start from your search query and pick out keywords, words that summarize the entire search query. These are the words you should use when searching different databases.

Plan your search

Start planning your search. This means that you need to analyze and define your search query. Here are some examples of what you need to consider:

  • Why are you searching for the information? Do you want a general overview of the topic, or in-depth?
  • What type of material do you need? Books, journals, legal documents, or statistics ...?
  • How extensive does the material need to be? 
  • Is the timeliness of the information a requirement? 
  • Which language do you want the material to be written in?

When searching in databases, you can often apply filters that delimit your hits, for example by language or publication date.

Medical subject words

In the subject area of medicine and health, it is usually best to search using controlled subject headings, for example the Swedish MeSH. MeSH terms are used as controlled keywords in the PubMed database, but you can always use them to look up keywords in other databases.

Tip

Have you found a good article? Look in the database and see what subject terms that describe the article. Then try to use those words in your search.