This was some advice given by an editor in a writing course:

If there is a limit to the number of keywords, don’t use terms already used in the title. Rather, use terms that are complementary, synonymous, or equivalent (even “non-standard” terms) to those in the title. This will allow your paper to appear in more searches in Google Scholar and similar search engines.

Is this correct?

  • 1
    I don't know how often this is recommended, but it makes good sense. Commented May 17, 2017 at 3:10
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because one would have to analyze the frequency with which this advice is given. Pretty impossible for us to say. Commented May 17, 2017 at 3:11
  • 5
    @aparente001: Well, you could theoretically analyse the frequency. More importantly, the answer to the question is irrelevant and what actually matters to every sane person is whether this advice is correct. As I presume the asker to be a sane person, I will just edit the question accordingly.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 7:16
  • Relevant and similar question: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/49093/… Commented May 18, 2017 at 8:17

1 Answer 1


Key-words are crucial for indexing, whereas the words chosen for the title and the abstract are impactful for free text searches.

For instance, you may search PubMed with key-words (using the [mh] tag), with title words (using the [ti] tag), with title or abstract words (using the [tiab] tag), and so forth.

In case you use in the title and abstract words which correspond to indexing terms, then you may find reasonable to use alternative words as key-words. However, the most important thing is to use, in at least one of the venues (key-words, title, or abstract), the accepted indexing terms.

  • Joe please roll back if my edit is not correct. Commented May 17, 2017 at 22:41

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