You may be asking yourself, why do I need to come up with keywords for my paper topic? Why can't I just type my topic sentence into a database or search engine?
The answer is that databases don't think like you and I do. They don't understand sentence structure and the way that it helps assign meaning to words and phrases. Databases and search engines are very literal-minded.
What databases and search engines do understand is looking for a term or phrase. Therefore, if I type in "the incidence and causes of plagiarism among college students" that is exactly what the database or search engine will look for, even though I don't necessarily need or want something that has that exact phrase.
When we search for keywords, like plagiarism and college, we are pointing out the most important terms from our topic for the database or search engine to find.