10 Tips for Selecting Keywords for Scientific Manuscript

Selecting appropriate keywords for research manuscript is important as it allows the article to appear at the top in search results when scholars are searching through journals, indexing and abstracting services and search engines. This can enhance the exposure of the article and significantly increase frequency of citations.

Tips for Selecting Keywords for Scientific Manuscript:

1. Keyword is a misnomer. In most instances authors select key-phrases (2-4 words each) not keywords (single word)

2. Review and follow journal guidelines for keywords.

3. It is advisable to match keywords to indexing standards in the discipline. Most biomedical journals specifically recommend using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). It is a good ‘common vocabulary’ to use. Other fields have other guidelines and requirements (E.g. GeoRef, ERIC Thesaurus, PsycInfo, ChemWeb, BIOSIS Search Guide)

4. Keywords should ideally be key phrases of 2-4 words. Avoid one word keywords or phrase which are too long.

5. Think of the terms readers may use for searching the topic of your research. Use those terms.

6. Include words describing methodology and experimental techniques. Format the keywords correctly taking care to use proper capitalization and hyphens.

7. Focus on words related to the main topic of research, variants of terms/phrases, drug names, procedures, full forms of shortened words, acronyms and abbreviations.

8. You can use terms/phrases that are used repeatedly in the manuscript text. Use Word Clusters or Word Clouds from the words in your manuscript to see the most prominent words in the article

9. Do keyword searches to see if the articles listed in search results match your paper. Use Google AdWords to find keywords that get the most traffic from searches

10. Do not overlap words in keyword list and title as article titles are independently searchable

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