Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

SMU Libraries

Legal Internship Research Toolkit: Identifying issues and keywords


What are concepts and keywords?

  • Concepts refer to the legal theories and ideas pertaining to the relevant question while keywords are the words you use to conduct the search The keyword should appropriately encompass the legal concepts and ideas.
  • In many cases, you will find that the concepts and keywords can be the same!

Why are they important?

  • Your search results will only be relevant if you enter effective and relevant keywords. If you enter irrelevant keywords, or keywords that do not accurately reflect the legal concepts, your results will not be useful!

How do I identify the concepts and keywords?

  • Read the question carefully and identify the legal issue. (eg. whether John can get a divorce under these circumstances)
  • Consider what legal concepts are covered. (eg. divorce, unreasonable behaviour) and identify the relevant keywords (eg. divorce, unreasonable behaviour, s95 of the Women's Charter, extramarital affair)
    • Ask yourself if you are familiar with the topic. If not, do a quick search (eg. Google, LawNet) or read some secondary sources to see how that concept has been referred to and the different synonyms used. 

How to identify keywords

The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy