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4 things you need to know about keywords in a paper

4 things you need to know about keywords in a paper


Keywords are powerful tools for SEO and discoverability”. It’s about covering grounds to make sure that your paper gets the eyeballs and citations it deserves.

There are about 101 things to take note of while preparing a paper for submission but here are 4 parts of a paper where keywords are extremely important. Shared by Dr. Jing Zhu, Associate Editor of Biotechnology Journal in the recent publishing workshop – “Strategies to publish in high impact journals”, here are some points wrapped up for you to digest.

Point #1: Always include keywords in the title of your paper

First impression matters – stating keywords in your article title ensures that an editor knows what your research is about at first glance. There are countless submissions that editors review daily and it is important for you to capture their attention right from the start.

Here are 4 things for you to keep in mind while you brainstorm for an eye-catching title in a Research article.

  • It has keywords – start with more important ones first
  • It tells the main results of the paper
  • It is written in the form of a statement
  • It contains an active verb

Check out more tips on writing a good title here.

Point #2: Repeat keywords in your abstract

An abstract is the most widely-read part of a paper next to titles. The keywords used would determine whether your research is being read by the right audience.

This is why it is important that you should never create new keywords.

On top of that, the keywords used in your abstract would define the relevant studies editors look up for when reviewing your paper. Therefore, it is imperative for you to use keywords that are already indexed by search engines.

Note: While keywords are important in an abstract, make sure that it is repeated naturally and in the right context.

Point #3: Submit keywords in the keywords field

These keywords are the ones that you are required to (and should) submit along with your paper. Choosing the right keywords is important in this process because it allows for accurate search and discovery by abstracting and indexing platforms.

Once again, submit keywords that already exist instead of creating new ones. The last thing you’d want is to have a wrong group of audience reading your paper.

Point #4: Don’t forget about keywords in subheadings

While you break down the main body of your paper into sub-sections, there are some great reasons why you should embed keywords in them:

Tip: Try to communicate the major results of subsections in your subheaders (in statement forms). It gives both editors and readers an excellent overview of what to expect in each segment.


Now that you’ve read about some tips about keywords, here is a short video on the common failure points of manuscript submission and its remedies.

Presented by Dr. José Oliveira, Editor-in-Chief of Small

What are some of your woes when writing a paper? Share with us and our readers your experiences in the comments section below.

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