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Graduate School

Guidelines for selecting keywords

An important part of submitting your thesis or dissertation is selecting keywords and subject categories. These elements become part of the information about your thesis or dissertation and will help other researchers to find your work.

Follow these guidelines:

  1. You must have at least one keyword.  You can enter up to 6 keywords for your thesis or dissertation.

  2. Capitalize the first letter of keywords. If your keyword is a phrase, capitalize only the first letter of the first word, for example: Business administration. If your keyword is a proper name, capitalize the first letter of each word, for example: Mississippi River

  3. Use full phrases rather than acronyms or abbreviations. For example, use Health Maintenance Organization rather than HMO

  4. Add a keyword if the concept or concepts covers at least 20% of your dissertation or thesis. Keywords should categorize your work as a whole, so focus on major concepts. It's OK to disregard minor aspects of your paper. 

  5. Ask yourself what your dissertation or thesis is about. If you were searching for this topic, what keywords would help you find it? 

  6. You may need more than one keyword or keyword phrase to adequately cover a concept. 

  7. Keywords may be a single word or several words. Keywords may include phrases. 

  8. Avoid bringing out every single concept with separate keywords when broader keyword(s) or keyword phrase(s) will do. 

  9. If you have two or more keyword concepts that are equally important, assign multiple keywords. 
  10. It may be useful to browse the ProQuest Subject Categories list to help you think of keywords.

If you have questions on selecting keywords or categories, contact the IT Help Desk (785-532-7722, helpdesk@k-state.edu) and ask for an ETDR consultant.