Identifying main concepts

Moving from a Research Question to Concepts and Keywords

Once you have identified an interesting nutrition controversy and some background, identify the key concepts and keywords that you'll use to search the scholarly literature.

Be precise. Identify the most important concepts in your research question. 

Example: "What effect does obesity have on diabetes in children?", our key concepts are obesity, diabetes, and children.

Keep in mind the concept of dependent and independent variables. In our example, obesity is the independent variable because it is the input or cause. Dependent variables, like diabetes, represent the output or effect. 

VIDEO: How To Develop Keywords (U of Houston)

Identifying keywords

Now identify synonyms and related terms.  From the background readings you have already identified and from what you already know about the topic, identify synonyms or terms that are related to your key concepts.

Struggling to come up with synonyms/related terms? Try describing your topic to other people, and ask them what words come to mind. You can also check a dictionary or thesaurus, look at a resource like MedlinePlus or Access Science, or Google or PubMed's autocomplete feature when you type a search for common search terms.

Concept Mapping

Use this to build a concept map and break your research question down into concepts and keywords.

concept map on diabetes