Are there some reasons to include them besides a historical tradion? Let's assume that it's not a requirement by the publisher.

There are some answers (such as this) which claim that keywords basically do not matter. However, I wonder if there are some empirical results or conflicting opinions on this. Perhaps they help with search engines?

My field is computer science, publishing mostly in IEEE conferences. Feel free to share experiences from other fields.

  • I cannot think of any downside to including keywords but there are possible positive things (better categorization) so no reason to not include them.
    – user64845
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:23
  • 1
    One is space that can be used for something else: consider a 6 page conference paper - sometimes we need to apply various tricks to ft everything there. Another is that they may be distracting or annoying for the reader ("Gosh, yet another bunch of buzzwords!").
    – kfx
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:51
  • space? That's one line of text. If that's a problem then something else is seriously wrong. And how can it distraxt or annoy anyone if there are some keywords listed somewhere below author adress or at the end after acknowledgements like it's common to do. And you might want to use keywords, not buzzwords..
    – user64845
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 15:53
  • @DSVA This is perhaps an extreme example, with two types of keywords that in total takes approx. as much space as 10 % of the body text of the publication: citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/…
    – kfx
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 16:55
  • 1
    Many journals online systems won't even let you submit the paper if you don't give keywords. Btw., before your paper is very well read, search engines will have problems extracting key words from the text. Doesn't hurt to help google a bit, there.
    – Karl
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


Here's one reason to include them:

In some fields, like biology, naming convention are lacking. You might use a specific word for a process, while other groups use another. By stating this other word in your keywords, researchers using that word will find your article/conference.


The answer you linked to actually lists two reasons, why keywords DO make sense (esp. number two) ;)

I always assumed that the keywords you specify in the webinterface during submission are the important ones, that will be used to catalog your submission. I do not think that the ones you specify on the title page are of any relevance nowadays. Thus, if you are asking about the keywords on the tile page, in order to shorten your publication by removing them, I guess this is reasonable, unless the formatting guidlines of the conference explicitly states them as needed.

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