Tips for Selecting Keywords for Scientific Manuscript
The primary reason for publishing a journal article is to make sure your research becomes known to the academic and scientific communities worldwide. You could receive great visibility and recognization just by having your article widely read and known.
This may not be due to keywords alone, but every research author wants to be well-informed about current advancements in their respective field, which can usually be achieved by reading journal articles or books in the field. Typically, when browsing articles, a searcher only has a general idea of the articles they want, making it difficult to narrow down to a single article (unless a specific article is being researched). Additionally, many researchers conduct research when they are actively writing their manuscript, so if your paper is appropriate, the chances of a citation are high. So, the search criteria, especially the keywords embedded within your article, are extremely crucial.
Guide for preparing your manuscript
Keywords assist a searcher in choosing the most relevant research article to read. However, when writing articles, listing the most important keywords are often an afterthought for authors and scientists who rarely research which keywords are best to include. It’s a must, and it’s relatively easy because researchers already know how to do analytical research on diverse topics. Keyword search results are symbiotic with the quality of the keywords you choose, just like when searching on Google. Including appropriate keywords in your article helps indexers and search engines find your article, allowing it to be listed at the very top of the SERPS for popular search engines. Every researcher should want their research to be at the top of search results so that it can have the greatest impact possible.
When a relevant article comes to the top of search results (in Google Scholar, Web of Science, SciFinder, etc.), it can dramatically increase the frequency of citations it receives, and citations can dramatically increase your credibility in your domain. Detailed below are highly effective tips for identifying the best keywords possible for your research paper, irrespective of what discipline, topic or stream of research it may be based on.
Learn The Constitution Of A Great Keyword
Your keywords should encapsulate the most important themes and concepts in your manuscript. This will offers readers and search engines a clear picture of what your article contains. When picking your keywords, there are a few things to consider –
Tips for Selecting Keywords for Manuscript
- Your Keywords Shouldn’t Be Too Focused Nor Too Broad
- Avoid Obscure Search Terms Like The Plague
- Stay Away From Anything That May Be Even Remotely Misleading
- Resorting To Simple Search Terms Isn’t Always Beneficial
- Try To Appeal To As Wide An Audience As Possible
- Specific Techniques & Research Methodologies You’ve Employed Can Be Used As Keywords
- Focus On The Primary Topic Of Your Research
- Avoid Using Single-Word Keywords At All Costs
- Avoid Keyword Overlaps In Your Title & Those In Your Previously Prepared Keyword List
- Pay Attention To The Guidelines For Authors Put Forth By Your Chosen Journal
1. Your Keywords Shouldn’t Be Too Focused Nor Too Broad
It’s a bad idea to utilize keywords that are too broad or extremely narrow. For instance, if you are submitting to the Journal of Astronomy, “Astronomy” isn’t a good keyword to choose. It doesn’t offer readers or search engines any additional information about your article. Also, you will be competing against a large number of other articles in the Google ranking. Likewise, choosing keywords that are too narrow will not help optimize your article since people are unlikely to search for them. The ideal keyword is somewhere between these two extremes, somewhere in the middle.
2. Avoid Obscure Search Terms Like The Plague
If people aren’t likely to enter one of your keywords into the search engine they’re using, you shouldn’t use it. Scientific names of plants, for instance, are not good keywords because people tend not to use them in searches. If you have an article about medical herbs, use “medical herbs” as your keyword, not “medicinis herbis”.
3. Stay Away From Anything That May Be Even Remotely Misleading
If you’ve used one of the keywords on your list to search for an article, would you be disappointed if your article appeared? If so, you shouldn’t use it.
4. Resorting To Simple Search Terms Isn’t Always Beneficial
“Keyword” is slightly misleading. Your keywords can (and usually should) include a mix of single words and short terms that people might type into a search engine. Usually, these terms are no longer than three to four words, but there is no official limit.
5. Try To Appeal To As Wide An Audience As Possible
It is important to use keywords that will appeal to everyone you want to find and read your article. If your article covers physics and statistics, for example, make sure there is at least one keyword that statisticians might search for. There are two ways to discover the keywords that best match your article and ideally, you should use a combination of them. They are –
Terms your readers might try to search for when they search for your article. Sometimes it’s worth trying to search for these terms to see if the articles that appear are identical to yours.
These include terms that you have used frequently throughout your article.
How To Pick The Ideal Keywords For Your Article
- Prepare a list of all the keywords you can think of using the two methods above.
- Delete those that are too broad, narrow, obscure or misleading.
- Narrow your list to the number required by the journal you are submitting to, choosing the most relevant keywords.
- Keep your complete list for future reference. Different keywords may be better for different reviews or may become more appropriate after reviews.
- Thinking through a comprehensive list will help you think outside the box, think about what others might be searching for and avoid choosing only the terms you search for. Doing this with your co-authors, other collaborators, supervisors, post-docs, etc., can make the activity even more valuable.
6. Specific Techniques & Research Methodologies You’ve Employed Can Be Used As Keywords
The most crucial experimental techniques used in your article deserve to be considered as keywords, for instance, Multimode Scanning Electron Microscopy, Voltage Contrast and Stroboscopy, the Feynman Technique, etc. Just ensure that the formatting of the keyword is the most commonly used in the literature so that your article isn’t excluded from searches for that term.
7. Focus On The Primary Topic Of Your Research
For example, if your article is based on VR Technology, possible keywords could be Metaverse Technology, VR Applications, XR – Combination Of VR & AR, VR Goggles, etc. If the topic is Natural Food Coloring, keywords to include could be Carotenoids, Chlorophyll, Beta-Carotene, Anthocyanin, Turmeric, etc. Remember to be specific enough to include key terms that directly convey your primary area of research.
8. Avoid Using Single-Word Keywords At All Costs
Make sure the keywords you select are neither too long nor too short. Too short keywords are likely to not be effective at all, while too long keywords can cause your article to be filtered so much that your article could be excluded. For example, if your search is for Food Coloring, use long-tail keywords relevant to your study. In this case, “dye” or “pigment” may be too broad, and your article would be lost in a sea of articles about Food Coloring.
9. Avoid Keyword Overlaps In Your Title & Those In Your Previously Prepared Keyword List
Don’t waste vital keyword space on words used within your title. This is usually advised by most journals (but check your journal’s guidelines). Instead, make sure your title uses appropriate keywords about your topic that can complement your keyword list.
10. Pay Attention To The Guidelines For Authors Put Forth By Your Chosen Journal
Each journal has particular specifications when it comes to selecting keywords. In medicine, for instance, most journals and clinical articles specifically recommend a list of terms from the US National Library of Medicine’s Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) collection. The use of MeSH terms is intended to facilitate literature searches and add weight to publications. However, other areas have other guidelines and requirements. Additionally, most journals require authors to submit five to eight of the most appropriate keywords (and unfortunately, some only want five to eight single-word keywords) that will allow the editor and databases to data to organize scientific content.
Following every one of the above-detailed tips will help you stay focused when determining which keywords to include in your article. Letting your keyword choices be an afterthought can prove to be quite costly. Keywords are scientific terms that present an ideal summary or key to your study, and it is of the utmost importance to provide other researchers with the opportunity to find your article by choosing the right keywords.
Avail Expert Academic Keyword Research Assistance
If you’d like for your article to rank at the very top of every journal publishing database and internet search engine imaginable, then you will have to put in considerable effort to make sure your keyword game is on point.
Very often, research authors have very little time to carry out the focussed and precise keyword search that is required to be able to identify the best and most relevant keywords for their research paper.
This is where leaving the task to a team of experts comes in handy. Reach out to ARDA if you’d like such expert assistance that will help you get your published paper noticed by millions the world over. Whether it’s manuscript writing, manuscript editing or submission, you can rely on ARDA.