Keywords are used to help search engines and researchers find relevant papers in databases such as PubMed. Author keywords are indexed in PubMed, thus very important for information retrieval. In JMIR journals, we also use keyword to match reviewers to articles, so we search in the "reviewing interest" field of our reviewer database to find reviewers for paper.
Choosing good keywords which are relevant and specific to your research can increase the number of people finding and reading your manuscript and, therefore, could lead to more citations. Accurate keywords are also critical if you want to have the work reviewed by competent reviewers.
Enter multiple (5-12) keywords (separate by a semicolon) in the keywords box on submission or edit them using the edit metadata link. There is no limit of keywords but ideally and typically authors use about a dozen keywords.
Some guidelines for choosing effective keywords are listed below:
- Choose keywords listed on the US National Library of Medicine’s collection of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH); however, these are often too broad and need to be complemented by more specific, author-generated keywords. Tip: Search PubMed for MeSH terms and then see what other author keywords or title/abstract words are used.
- Think from the point of view of the reader. What keywords would the reader search for that would help retrieve your article?
- Keywords should be specific to the content of your manuscript and field or subfield. Keywords which are too broad (eg, internet) will result in your manuscript being difficult to find amid many other hits.
- Use variants of terms and phrases which readers are likely to use to search for your research (eg, activity tracker and fitness tracker) or which are useful to identify reviewers with a specific research topic or methodology. If you use "smartphone", also use "mobile phone" and "mhealth" to capture different search variants
- Use the full form of shortened words or acronyms.
- Do not forget to add general keywords like internet, mHealth, mobile health, digital health, eHealth to make sure people doing systematic reviews in these areas identify your article.