Skip to Main Content

EESC30: Environmental Microbiology

Keywords Matter

Ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is my topic?
  2. What are the key aspects of this topic?
  3. What are alternate keywords for each aspect?

Brainstorm terms to use in your search by picking words that represent each key aspect of your topic. This can be challenging, since the same idea can be expressed in many ways! To ensure the best results when searching, brainstorm several keywords whenever possible.

Sample Topic

Let's say you were interested in finding research articles on the following topic:

"What is the efficacy of self-disinfecting surfaces in reducing infection spread?"

What are some keywords you could use?



Key concepts:

  • self-disinfecting AND surfaces AND infection spread

Related keywords/synonyms for each concept:


  • Self-sanitizing
  • Self-sterilizing


  • Coating(s)
  • Paint(s)

Infection spread:

This concept is still quite vague and needs some additional scoping! Some example ideas:

  • Location of infection spread (e.g. hospitals, health care settings, etc.)
  • Comparing efficacy of specific brands/products that self-disinfect
  • Targeting a specific pathogen and its colonization rates (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus)