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Business: Using the Library to Support your Dissertation/Project: Key Words


Before you begin searching for your project/dissertation you should take some time to consider exactly what it is you are searching for. Taking your time and preparing your search will save you time in the long run as it will ensure that the studies you find will be relevant to your research topic.

Define your question

When thinking about your topic, you will want to pick out key themes. There are some useful writing guides which demonstrate how to do this. The words relating to these themes should form the basis of your keyword search.

In order to establish your search criteria you will need to define each aspect of your question very clearly to decide exactly what you wish to focus on and consider if there are any variations you also wish to explore.  Your supervisor will help you with this but there are questions you can ask yourself:

Are you interested in a particular aspect of your topic?

Is there a particular setting/industry/geographic region you are interested in?

You may be interested in assessing the impact of training activities in organisationsIn thinking about the scope of your topic you might think about: are there particular sectors you are interested in or specific training. 


Keywords help describe the most important ideas/concepts to your question/research topic. 

  • Are any synonyms (words which have similar/same meanings).  An example might be Britain or United Kingdom.
  • Are there any abbreviations for your keywords?
  • Are there alternative spellings for your keywords?

In the example about the evaluation of training, the keywords are: training and evaluation. 

Once you have identified your keywords/phrases you can then think about alternatives for your keywords.  For example:

Training = Learning and development = CPD

Idenifying Keywords

To help inform your topic and identify keywords you can carry out some background reading.  Undertaking some background reading will help you gain an overview of your topic and current issues.  For background reading you can use textbooks which you can find from your reading lists and BCU Library Search.

Professional bodies often produce policy documents, reports and evidence reviews on topics relevant to their professional membership. Look for organisations which are non-for-profit. 

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