Skip to Main Content
My Library Banner

How do I: Identify Search Terms

This guide covers Information, Media, and Digital Literacy concepts and Digital Citizenship for Gr. 9-12 students, as well as teacher and parents.

Identify Search Terms

Photo Credit: UBC Library, license Creative Commons

Find Synonyms: Use a Dictionary or a Thesaurus

What's next?

Identify your Search Terms

Once you have determined your topic area, conducted background reading, and developed a research question, you should brainstorm similar terms (synonyms) or related terms, that represent each of the key concepts in your research question.


Topic Area: Sustainable Development

Background Reading: consulted the Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Wikipedia, the print World Book in my school Learning Commons, and CBC News.

Research Question: How do recent activities in the Canada oil industry reflect the changing attitudes of the Canadian federal government towards environmental protection in Canada?

      Main Concepts in Research Question:

  1. Oil Industry
  2. Canadian Federal Government
  3. Environmental Protection

Developing Search Terms: Synonyms and Similar Terms 

Oil Industry                      Canadian Federal Government       Environmental Protection 

oil sands

oil and gas

tar sands 





Conservative Government

Federal Government

Canadian Government

Prime Minister Harper


Progressive Conservatives


sustainable development 



global warming

environmenal change