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Evidence Synthesis : Keyword Searching

Useful resources and tools for planning and conducting systematic reviews

Keyword Searching

To conduct a systematic search of the literature, you will usually need to employ keyword and subject heading searching. Some databases (Scopus, Web of Science, etc.) do not employ subject headings and some articles may be incorrectly indexed, therefore effective keyword searching is a must. 

To conduct effective keyword searches, you'll need to develop an extensive list of key search terms & synonyms. 

Some recommendations for developing a list of search terms: 

  • Search online for your topic/subject - even a Wikipedia article can often help you brainstorm keywords. 
  • Find some published original research articles on your topic (possibly through your exploratory search), and scan them for relevant keywords.