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I know that keywords do not matter that much any more, however they are still required by some conferences and journals. Is it a good idea to include acronyms in the keyword field that are not self-explanatory or should they be expanded instead?

Example: People might have heard of EU or NATO and know what the abbreviation stands for, but a few non-experts would guess what a "DoS attack" means, before explained in the paper. Should it be written as "Denial of Service attack" instead?

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    Some journals have a list of accepted keywords (e.g., IEEE taxonomy): first, check if there is such a list or if there are any journal guidelines. – Massimo Ortolano May 19 '16 at 21:02
  • In my particular case it is for a conference and I have already checked, without any luck. – DimP May 19 '16 at 21:18
  • If the conference is affiliated with a major society, you can use the keywords recommended by that society. If not, you can probably choose your favourite keywords. but acronyms do not seem to be a common choice. – Massimo Ortolano May 19 '16 at 21:23
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    In that case, maybe something like "Denial-of-Service (DoS)" is the best option? – DimP May 19 '16 at 21:45
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The intent of keywords is to aid in indexing so that your article can be easier to the reach of people who search for specific topic (DoS in your example). Hence, bear in mind the people whom you are trying to reach when selecting the keywords.

Certain journal publishers, such as IEEE, have a complete list of keywords you ought to follow. These lists are often updated to catch up with the technological trends of the time. It would be better to check for such a list with your publisher.

If you cannot find such a list, check out the papers that are published in the journal you wish to submit the manuscript in. Search for papers in your topic and see what sort of keyword they used that is similar to yours to get a better idea of what to include in your keywords section.

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    My paper is aimed for a conference, but your last paragraph covers both cases I guess. Marked as accepted answer! – DimP May 20 '16 at 14:21

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