Keywords & synonyms

Learning outcomes

  • Identify relevant keywords and synonyms to use for literature search

Why use keywords?

Identifying synonyms (similar words) and related keywords for each of your concepts or themes will ensure that your search retrieves as many relevant records as possible.

  • identify the main concepts
  • determine alternative terms to capture how others might describe the same concept
  • consider possible word variations

Finding alternative terms

Identify other keywords by:

  • reviewing abstract, keywords, subject headings, and text in relevant publications
  • consulting dictionaries and encyclopedias e.g. Credo reference database


Alternative keywords and synonyms for Education


  • Highlight the main concepts or themes in your research question
  • Identify alternative words or phrases that others may have used to describe the same concept that you are researching.
Fundamentals of searching