Brainstorming Keywords & Thesis Statement

What are Keywords?

Keywords are words or short phrases that represent the main ideas in your research topic or question.
In Google, you can search using full sentences. Library databases are not as smart as Google and do not understand full sentences, spelling mistakes or conversational language.
Instead, you have to consider the words that authors are using the write about a topic. 

To come up with keywords, identify the most important words in your research question or topic.


  1. State your research question or topic. 
        Do video games increase violence in teens?
  2. What are the key concepts? Think nouns and noun phrases.
        Do video games increase violence in teens?
  3. List related terms
  • Consider how different people or communities talk about the concept.
  • Consider how language has changed over time.
  • Think of broader terms, narrower terms, or synonyms.

     4.Consider Using Some Search strategies

  • " quotations to search phrases.
  • * an asterisk to find word variations.
  • AND, OR, NOT to combine terms.  

Example: "video games", teen*, aggression OR violence

Consider these questions to generate more search terms

  • WHO: Who is involved? Whom does it effect? Is there a specific population you will focus on?
  • WHERE: Where did it begin? Do you want to focus on a specific geographic region?
  • WHEN: When did it begin? Do you want to focus on a specific timeframe?
  • WHY: Why does it matter? Why do you think we should investigate?

Try different search combinations and strategies! The process is iterative.

Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.

Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.

Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.

Is generally located near the end of the introduction; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.

Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

  • Determine what kind of paper you are writing:

An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.

An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.

An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.

If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.

  • Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
  • The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.
  • Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

A good thesis will generally have the following characteristics:

  • A good thesis sentence will make a claim
  • A good thesis sentences will control the entire argument.Your thesis sentence determines what you are required to say in a paper.
  • A good thesis will provide a structure for your argument.A good thesis not only signals to the reader whatyour argument is, but how your argument will bepresented.


Content last reviewed: April 30, 2021