Research for Essay Writing in English

  • Library Terminology
  • Types of sources
  • Google vs. Library Databases
  • Building your search strategy
  • Running your search
  • Evaluating your results
  • Chicago Manual of Style

Search strategy worksheet

This worksheet can be used to prepare for your search and to document your search process.

  • Search Strategy Worksheet

Search Strategy: Synonyms and related terms

You can also view this video on YouTube

Search Strategy: Combining your ideas together

Learning Objectives

essay about search strategy

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Apply proper usage of search operators (e.g. boolean operators, truncation symbols, parentheses)
  • Select relevant keywords, expressions, and terminology to retrieve useful information and resources
  • Understand the need for a search strategy when searching in a library catalogue or database 

1. What is a search strategy?

A search strategy is an organized structure of key terms used to search a database or a library catalogue. it combines the main concepts of your search question in order to retrieve accurate results.  .

Your search strategy will account for:

  • possible search terms, keywords, phrases or expressions
  • truncated or wildcard variations of search terms
  • usage of search operators

2. Use search operators

Search operators are commands that you can use to filter and refine your search results. here are some search operators that you should know about.  .

Boolean operators: They form the basis of mathematical sets and database logic. They connect your search words together to either narrow or broaden your set of results and help you find exactly what you are looking for. 

Truncation: Truncation is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings. Adding a truncation symbol at the end of the root of a keyword enables you to search for some  variations of that keyword 

Truncation symbols may vary by databases, but we often see: *, !, ? or #  (Check the help or support page of a database to learn more about the symbols they use)

Canad * = Canada, Canadian, Canadians, Canadiens, Canadiennes, etc.

modern * = modern, modernism, modernist, etc. 

Wildcards: Wildcards are used when you a word that can be spelled in different ways but has the same meaning. Wildcards substitute a symbol for one letter of a word. 

Truncation symbols may vary by databases, but we often see: * or ? (Check the help or support page of a database to learn more about the symbols they use)

wom*n = woman, women

colo?r = color, colour  

Quotation marks: Use quotation marks when proximity between two words is key. This is useful with expressions, proper names, or concepts with more than one word. When using quotation marks, the database will search for exactly what you enclose into the quotations. Make sure to have the proper spelling. 

"Mark Twain"

"climate change"

"Civil War"

Parentheses: Use parentheses to group search terms together. When putting parentheses, you can perform several Boolean searches at the same time. A database will perform the search enclosed in parentheses first.

("climate change" OR "global warming")

(teen* OR adolescent) AND media AND violence  

(Some content from this section was taken from MIT Libraries - Database Search Tips CC-BY-NC 4.0)

3. Steps to build a search strategy

To build a search strategy, you should start with your research question. we will use the following question for our example:  does fair trade chocolate actually mean better conditions for cocoa farmers.

Step 1: Locate the main concepts of your question

  • cocoa farmers
  • working conditions

* Don't be tempted by words such as: Cause / effect / determine / factors / role / research / trends / benefits / advantages / drawbacks / disadvantages / impact / etc...  They are not the main concepts of your questions and will not improve your search strategy.  

Step 2: Make a list of synonyms of your main concepts. Are there other ways to express those ideas or concepts?

Step 3: Organize your keywords/concepts with search operators to create a search string

*This is an example. A search string can be complex or simple, depending on your need

Step 4: Test your search strategy in the library catalogue or a database (see Running your search) and refine as needed!

If you have questions, or if you run into problems that the guide does not address, e-mail Catherine Lachaîne at [email protected]


This online guide is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International  license. This page is attributed to Catherine Lachaîne. 

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Example Of Search Strategy

Evidence based practice.

The primary evidence that I have chosen is a study conducted by Brodie et al (2008) about how a physical activity ‘lifestyle’ intervention based on motivational interviewing, compared to standard care, can improve quality of life for people with chronic heart failure. The authors of this article included an account of its

Elements Of Creating A Search Strategy

An important component of evidence-based nursing, is the professional nurse’s ability to create a search strategy that will assist professionals in finding relevant research articles that address an important clinical problem in need of a timely solution. As the Institute of Medicine’s core competencies for health care professionals have called upon nurses to advocate person-centered care, evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and informatics, United Health Group’s complex medical conditions case managers are advocating person-centered care while creating quality outcomes (Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, 2010). This assignment will explain five

A Patient Journey ( Mr Jones ) With Coronary Heart Disease

This assignment will explore a patient journey (Mr Jones) with coronary heart disease and focus on two therapeutic interventions that would restore, maintain or improve Mr Jones health status. This journey was chosen as the author expresses interest in this chosen area as it has significantly impacted on not only Mr Jones life but in the wider society too. Firstly, it will examine percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and how this would benefit him and the potential risks involved, following the nurses’ role with providing after care of this procedure. Secondly, cardiac rehabilitation will be analysed and how it plays a crucial part for a patient to recover after coronary intervention. This was chosen as it has played a significant role in the NHS as many people are having heart problems associated with hypertension and Diabetes Mellitus and these two interventions have been effective in reducing mortality and morbidity rates. Research has shown it will increase by 25% by 2020 as it is the common cause of death, this is fundamental that it should be focused on to address the issues impacting on the future health of the population and to educate patients to reduce hospital admissions by effectively managing their health problems in a holistic manner.

How Stress Affects Physical Health

Thirdly, physical exercise itself could re-shape our body, make body stronger and looks healthier. It hence can improve individual’s attractiveness and confidence and hence can enable a positive life attitude. Fourthly, since the physical exercise normally would enable individual to interact with others, socialising with participants and friends in a such low-stress way might meet human’s belonging needs. It therefore could make people have a good mood and recharge themselves to fight against stress (Elizabeth, 2011).

Depression : The Negative Effects Of Exercise And Depression

Since 1990s, many scientists agree that exercise has positive impacts on people’s physical health and mental health (SIME WE, 1987). From Morgan and O’Connor’s research, people can reduce stress and state anxiety by doing physical activities; also gain emotional pleasure from the process (Morgan and O’Connor, 1988). Later in 1997, Landers states that physical activities can reduce people depression after weeks of regular and routine exercise. In addition, people can benefit from more

Psychological Effects Of Exercise On The Body 's Overall Health

It is a well-kenned fact that exercise is very propitious to the body’s overall health. Exercise has been shown to enhance the circulation of blood throughout the body, relinquish solicitousness, boost self-esteem, and ultimately is utilized as a treatment for noetic illnesses.

Mental Health Outline

Exercise plays a beneficial role for many health concerns in general and improves quality of life

Transtheoretical Model Essay

Exercise behavior is the study of theories which work to explain actions and phenomenon’s that occur when looking at peoples perspectives of exercise. One overall theory called The Transtheoretical model (TTM), includes elements from “across a variety of theories and models behavior, some of which are social-cognitive in nature and some of which are not” (79). The TTM describes five stages of behavior change: Precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. By using TTM as the base of multiple theories, a greater picture of exercise behavior is created to understand how individuals become interested and continue to make a life style that involves normal exercise.

Exercise Lab Report

Introduction: Exercise is a physical activity or particular movement that is used in order to become healthier and stronger. (1) Exercise, in all of its forms, has various effects on the different systems in the human body. One of the main benefits is cardiovascular health, including circulation and heart health. Exercise uses a lot of energy, which the cells derive from oxidising glucose. Meaning that the heart has to work harder to pump more blood throughout the body and the heart has to beat faster in order to achieve a high effort. (2) The heart benefits from exercise include being able to pump more blood through the body and continue working at a higher level with less strain. (3)

Essay about Exercise and Depression

General recommendations are now widely accepted as to the general advantages of exercise in terms of physical health, such as its ability to prevent weight gain, coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and osteoporosis.14 It appears that health promotion schemes have shied away from extolling exercise’s psychological benefits. After all, there is no government campaign, no public policy initiative, which pontificates exercise on account of a concern for mental wellbeing. Although many people would identify that exercise has a positive influence on mood state, it appears that, generally speaking, this is regarded as a positive correlation, rather than a causal relationship. The ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ concept is thus, for many, a heuristic utopia, rather than a scientifically proven

Cardiovascular Fitness

Good physical health is a vital part of the well-being of every person. A major component of our physical health is “Cardiovascular fitness”. Cardiovascular fitness is the ability of the heart and lungs to provide oxygen to the muscles for activity of an extended duration. If we have a good level of cardio-vascular fitness we are able to sustain activity for a reasonable period of time and not fatigue easily. This can give individuals a variety of health benefits and allow more regular and enjoyable activity to be participated in. This research report will examine my results of cardio-vascular fitness tests and weekly physical activity events, which

Psychosocial Factors Affecting the Patient and Health Care Professional

Patients with CHD have many risk factors that are unpredictable and unexpected. This illness can bring on tremendous stress that can bring out the worse in the disease. “Patients have a set of norms and values—expressed or unexpressed—that are individually determined by their culture, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, age, and life experiences”(Falvo, Pg 83). The patient needs more then medical therapy. According to James Blumenthal, PhD, “Psychosocially treated patients showed greater clinical improvement not only in psychological distress, but also in lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels. More importantly, Linden et al. also concluded that patients who received psychosocial interventions were over 40% less likely to die and 65% less likely to have a recurrent coronary event than controls over a two year follow-up period” (Blumenthal, Pg.1). Guiding this type of patient to the right health care professional and reinforcing the right education this patient can have live optimal life.

Persuasive Exercise Essay

I. Think of four important people in your life. One of these four people will be diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or depression in the course of their life, which may eventually cause death. Imagine if that person had simply exercised for 30 minutes, 4-5 times a week. They would most likely not be suffering from the disease, and living a happy healthy life.

Principles of Rehabilitation

Cardiac Rehabilitation programme is offered to patients post myocardial infarction. Rehabilitation is defined by the Royal College of Nursing RCN, (2000,pg.3) as re-enablement which means "helping people adapt to changes in their life circumstances." Cardiac rehabilitation is defined by Jowcett and Thompson 1996 cited in Noy (1998,pg.1033) as "the process by which patients with coronary heart disease are enabled to achieve their optimal physical, emotional, social and economic status". Furthermore, it is also defined by the World Health Organisation WHO, (1993) cited in the National Service Framework for coronary heart disease DOH, (2000,pg.3) as the "sum of activities required to influence favourably the underlying cause of the disease, as well as the best possible physical, mental and social conditions, so that they (people) may, by their own efforts preserve or resume when lost, as normal a place as possible in the community". Rehabilitation is a complex activity that requires contributions from many members of the healthcare team. Rehabilitation is a planned, goal-directed activity that requires assessment and re-assessment using standardised measures to monitor progress. It must include patients and their families and friends.

The Effects Of Exercise On Emotional Health Essay

Exercise may be one of the most important influences on your overall health to date. While the only benefits that are mainly focused on are the physical benefits, significant psychological impacts can also be linked to exercise. Although some of these benefits aren’t viewed with much enthusiasm, studies have proven that exercise can actually improve one’s quality of life greatly by increasing not only their physical health but their mental health as well. It is because of this that exercise is a

Related Topics

  • Scientific method


Gr. 11-12 Extended Essay

  • Reflections
  • Choose a Subject
  • Choose a Topic
  • Draft a Research Question
  • Search Strategy Overview

Tips for Database, Library Catalogue, and Internet Searching

Using boolean operators, what about wikipedia, library titles on research skills.

  • Computer Science
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  • Introduction
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In this stage of the research process, you'll start to identify  how  and  where  you will gather source material for your research.

The important thing to remember is to not be overwhelmed by the amount of information out there, just collect what you think might be useful to you. If you look in the right places and search efficiently you can find relevant resources quickly and easily.

Why you need a range of sources

There are many information sources, from the obvious ones like books, magazines, newspapers and Internet sites to those you may not immediately think of such as maps, annual reports, conference proceedings and theses. All sources have strengths and weaknesses and you should consider these when deciding on the most appropriate sources to use in your research.

Use these tips to help you search a variety of information sources including databases, library catalogs, and the Internet.

  • If you have a choice, choose the Advanced Search option. It will allow you to limit your search in a number of ways.
  • When planning your search, remember to use  keywords .
  • Use Boolean Operators  to create your search strings.
  • The truncation symbol (*) can be used to find variations of a keyword that begin with the same letters.  For example econom* would find economy, economic, economics, economical etc.
  • Record the searches you use so you remember which search strings worked best.
  • Use quotation marks to group a number of words together (e.g., "polar bear" would search for all results with the phrase 'polar bear' but would ignore those where 'polar' and 'bear' only appear separately).
  • Verify important information by looking for the same information in a number of reliable sources.

Source: West Sound Academy Library. (n.d.). Extended Essay: Step 7.  Identify Sources.

Boolean searching is the most powerful way of searching a computer and can be used in many library databases, the Internet (Google), as well as our library catalogue.

Boolean searching uses three "operators" (AND, OR, NOT) to combine your keywords into a more targeted and effective searches.

essay about search strategy

Source: School District of Onalaska. (n.d.). Boolean Commands Explained.

Try completing this Boolean Searching module from the University of Waterloo Libraries to familiarize yourself with Boolean searching.

essay about search strategy

Wikipedia  is a very popular online encyclopedia. From its 2001 launch, the free, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project now represents the largest and most-read reference volume in history .

Importantly, Wikipedia entries can be created, added to, and edited by anyone .

As a tool for research, free online encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, can be valuable resources, but there are several reasons why students should be cautious in using them:

  • they tend to be general encyclopedias
  • very often the author is unknown
  • there is no guarantee that the content meets standards of academic rigour —it may not, for example, have been through a process of peer review
  • the content can be unstable , in that it can change at any time.

Wikipedia and products like it should be treated with caution and must always be checked for accuracy. However, if used appropriately and critically, they can offer a useful starting point for many students undertaking research.

How to use Wikipedia the right way:

essay about search strategy

The Research Virtuoso

An easy-to-follow guide to finding and sorting information on any topic, explaining how to use a wide range of research tools and how to determine fact from fiction.

essay about search strategy

IB Extended Essay Course Book

Matched to the new IB Guide, this essential resource provides learners with a step-by-step pathway to maximize achievement. With complete guidance for every aspect of writing and researching, use this resource to strengthen performance.

essay about search strategy

Research Strategies

With the information provided here, writing research papers does not have to be frustrating or boring. It is possible to develop significant skills in order to make the writing process much easier, and the author explains the skills and strategies you need to efficiently and effectively complete a research project . In this book, the author offers a clear, simple, roadmap for conducting research and navigating the vast new world of information and technology. He details the entire research paper process from start to finish, and provides insightful and helpful information.

essay about search strategy

Information Now, Second Edition

[This book] has helped college students address this fundamental issue in the form of a short, humorous graphic guide. It explains how information is organized, both on the open web and in library resources, and how to navigate those sources to find good, trustworthy answers. But the information landscape has changed dramatically in just a few years, and this revised edition explores new questions about who has access to information and about algorithmic bias in how search engines present results. The book also covers online misinformation and offers simple strategies for fact-checking websites. In addition to this expanded topical coverage, this . . . edition includes revised critical thinking exercises in every chapter to help students feel more engaged in improving the information landscape.

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  • Writing Tips

5 Tips on How to Develop a Search Strategy

5 Tips on How to Develop a Search Strategy

3-minute read

  • 15th February 2017

In academic writing , a “search strategy” refers to the methods used to find sources. You’ll often have to document your search strategy in the methodology section of a thesis or dissertation.

But how do you develop a good search strategy? It depends on what you’re researching, but these five tips are a great starting point.

1. Selecting Databases

Your college library should offer access to various academic databases. But not all of these will be relevant to your work (e.g., if you’re studying medicine, you probably won’t need the American Meteorological Society’s Meteorological & Geoastrophysical Abstracts database).

Unless you take the phrase "under the weather" literally.

Consequently, you should either select the most relevant databases via your library’s search engine or access individual databases online. You should also make sure to list the databases used when you write up your search strategy.

2. Search Terms

Next, you’ll need to select relevant search terms . Some of these should be obvious based on your research topic (e.g., if you’re writing about mummification in ancient Egypt, you’ll definitely want to search for “mummification” and “Egypt”).

Well preserved. (Photo: dada/wikimedia)

For others, though, you may need to brainstorm related terms. One option is looking at a few papers related to your topic and seeing which keywords they use in their abstracts.

3. Wildcards and Truncation

You can increase the number of results you get from a search using “wildcards” and “truncation” :

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  • Wildcards are symbols used to find alternative spellings of the same term. If a wildcard is represented by a “!” symbol, for instance, you could search for “Ram!ses” to find variant spellings of the name (e.g., Ramses, Rameses, Ramesses).
  • Truncations allow you to search for various endings to the same term. So if a truncation is represented by a “*,” you could search for “Egypt*” to bring up results that include “Egyptology” and “Egyptian.”

The symbols for these may depend on the database, so remember to check the “help” section when using a new database to find out how to use wildcards and truncation.

4. Using Boolean Operators

Another way of customizing search results is to use Boolean operators . The three main terms you’ll need here are “AND,” “OR,” and “NOT.”

The “AND” operator allows you to search for papers that contain more than one search term (e.g., “mummification AND Ancient Egypt”). The “OR” operator, meanwhile, will return results that feature either of the search terms mentioned (e.g., “mummification or burial rites”).

Or "Mummies AND Cats." (Photo: Mario Sánchez/wikimedia)

“NOT” lets you exclude certain results from a search. For instance, if you only wanted to find results about ancient Egyptian mummies, you could search for “mummification NOT bog bodies” to exclude European mummies found in peat bogs.

 5. Limiting Searches

You can also control searches using limiting conditions . These are the options that allow you to filter certain results for relevance.

Common filters include language (e.g., searching only for papers published in English) and date of publication (e.g., searching only for papers published after 2005). The limiters available may depend on the database, but they can be useful if a term returns too many results.

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Computer-Based Search Strategy Using Evidence-Based Research Methodology Research Paper

Introduction, research steps.

In any given research, it is important to have a well-planned search strategy to aid in collecting all the required information on the topic being researched. In addition to a well-planned search strategy, it is vital that the researcher fully understands the topic of research. In this case, the research concerns formulation of a computer-based search strategy to collect information using evidence-based research methodology only.

The first step in this search will be to formulate a question that will guide the research. In evidence-based methodology, for the question to be most comprehensive, it needs to have the PICO aspects (Huang, 2003). The PICO aspects cover the population, the intervention, comparison and the outcome. In this case, the question guiding my research is “Can additional choices of food and places to eat improve appetite and maintain weight in residents with dementia?” The population in this context will be the dementia patients while the intervention will be the provision of additional choices of foods and places to eat. This is in comparison with the current choices that the patients have. The outcome will be the effect that these changes will have on their appetite and consequently their weight.

The next step will be to conduct a search on the internet to get all the written materials related to this topic. There are various materials written concerning the feeding habits of dementia patients including the types of food recommended for them to eat (Fisher, 2011). In addition, there are researches done on the response of these patients to certain types of food (HelpGuide, 2011). Moreover, there are articles written on the best food for dementia patients and this will help in guiding this research (LiveStrong, 2011). All these collected material will be read through to see all that has been written about the topic which will assist in giving the background information and setting a foundation for this research.

The other step will be to use a computer-based search strategy to collect data on this research topic. This will involve searching for all the homes that care for patients with dementia around my area. A thorough and careful search will be conducted and all the details concerning these homes will be recorded. These details will include the location of the home, the number of patients within each identified home and the types of diets given to these residents in each and every home. In addition, the details of the caregivers in each home will be recorded so that in case there is a need to contact them to clarify any information, then that will be easily done. Also, weight records of these residents will be retrieved and if this is not possible due to the policy of confidentiality, the researcher will make a personal request to the homes to get all the information that will assist in the conduction of this research.

When all the details concerning these homes have been collected, a comparison of the types of foods being given and the residents’ records of weight and eating habits will be made. All the foods which are most liked by the residents will be identified and recorded. These records will be used as evidence of the effect of additional food choices on the residents’ eating habits. Therefore, for the research to be truly evidence-based, the conclusion must be drawn from the best evidence available (DynaMed, 2010).

In addition to the computer research mentioned above, the following evidence-based research methodology which is experimental and scientific will be used. It will involve use of control and experimental groups (Brown, 2007). Residents from a number of randomly selected care centers or homes will be involved. The researcher will suggest the addition of a number of foods. The residents’ responses will be studied and recorded. In addition, during the research, the residents will get chances to choose where they want to have their meals and the researcher will collect the data on how they respond.

All the results collected from this research will be recorded in the computer and a comparison of the results from various residents in various centers will be done to see how each resident responds to the provision of additional food variety and the choice of the area to have their meals from. Any weight improvement or deterioration will be recorded. Any significant similarities in response to certain foods and areas will be noted so as to be included in the findings and recommendations where they are needed.

During this research, the caregivers will be involved to assist in monitoring and providing information to the researcher concerning the observations made. This will be necessary since the researcher cannot collect sufficient data from all these centers all alone.

To communicate with all the caretakers involved and to collect sufficient data within the set period of time, communication via telephone and emails will be involved so as to liaise with all the caregivers and collect a lot of information while saving time (Brown, 2007). The caregivers will be sent for tables with information on various identified food types and they will be required to write their observations against each food type and feeding area and include a record of changes in the residents’ weight.

When all the data has been collected, an analysis will be done to see how the residents respond to the changes of adding food and offering them a chance to choose where they want to eat from (Fischer, 2009). In addition, each resident’s favorite food and the types of food generally most liked by the residents will be identified. All the information collected during the evidence-based research study is used to help in making vital medical decisions (The American Dental Hygienists’ Association, 2010). Therefore, after this analysis, a report will be prepared to record the findings of this research and make the necessary recommendation where needed.

Brown N., Fitzallen, N. (2007). Evidence-based Research in Practice. Web.

DynaMed, (2010) 7-Step Evidence-based Methodology. Web.

Fischer W., Etchegaray J. (2009). Understanding Evidence-Based Research Methods: Descriptive Statistics, The Health Environments Research and Design Journal. Web.

Fisher M. (2011) Reducing calorie and carbohydrate intake may affect Alzheimer’s disease (search) risk.

HelpGuide (2011) Alzheimer’s Behavior Management: Managing Common Symptoms and Problems. Web.

Huang, W. (2003) Formulating Clinical Questions During Community Preceptorships: A First Step in Utilizing Evidence-based Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

LiveStrong (2011) The best Food For Dementia Patients To Eat .

The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (2010) Evidence-based Methodology. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2022, May 6). Computer-Based Search Strategy Using Evidence-Based Research Methodology.

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Research Skills

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Developing a search strategy

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essay about search strategy

We live in an information age thanks to technology like the Internet. Knowing which avenues to use to find the information we need can seem a little daunting at the outset of our research journey.

This section will help direct your search so that you never have to feel lost or overwhelmed by information.

Use the quick links below to help you learn about the skills you need to build an effective and efficient search strategy.

Quick links

essay about search strategy

Finding search terms: keywords

Keywords are the words you type into search engines when you are looking for relevant sources.

Your keywords will be the main concepts from your research question .

This section will teach you how to identify your main concepts and turn them into a collection of keywords that give your search strategy flexibility and scope.

How to identify the main concepts in your question

The easiest way to identify them is to work backwards!

We'll apply the following steps to two different-looking research questions:

STEP 1: Remove all the small, insignificant words .

STEP 2 : Remove any instructional words (the words that give you a directive/tell you what to do) OR any 5Ws and the H words (What, When, Where, Which, Who, and How). They tend to be the first word of the question.

STEP 3 : Remove any evaluating words (words that indicate measuring or assessing, or suggest change).

What's left will be your main concepts and your keywords! 

Having flexible keywords 

The keywords you've identified through your process of elimination won't be your ONLY keywords. When you type them into a search engine (whether it be the Wintec databases or Google Scholar) they may not retrieve all relevant results. That's because different sources will use different words for the same concepts.

Here's how to cover all your bases so that search results include ALL sources that are relevant.

Brainstorm all the synonyms (different words that mean the same thing) for your key concepts:

essay about search strategy

Here's an example of how to approach brainstorming synonyms for your keywords:

Once you have a list of synonyms, you can try using different combinations of search terms in your search engine to see which gives the best results.

The next section will teach you the best way to join ALL your keywords (synonyms and all) to retrieve the most relevant results.

The video below explains a little more about keywords and developing additional keywords/synonyms.

essay about search strategy

Pro searching tips

Most search engines will give you some options to optimise your search and really target the results you want. In this section you will learn about Boolean operators and phrase searching .

Boolean operators (and, or, not)

You may notice the following drop down options when you use the Catalogue or the OneSearch Advanced Search:

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The AND, OR, and NOT help narrow and broaden your search.

The AND can be used to join your main concepts . By joining two or more ideas together, your search becomes more specific and your results will therefore be more targeted. You will have fewer results .

The OR can be used to join your synonyms to give your search engine more options (remember, not all sources will use the same words for the same concepts). You will have more results because it broadens your search.

The NOT can be used to strip out any results that are not relevant. For example, if you are doing research on early childhood education, one of your keywords might be "children". However, your search engine might include results for teenagers. By writing "teenagers" next to the NOT Boolean operator, you will remove all those irrelevant results. You will have fewer results because it limits your search.

What does a search strategy look like using Boolean operators?

Let's use one of the examples from the previous section in which we found the keywords and synonyms for the question  Explore the effectiveness of Lego as an adult teaching tool.

essay about search strategy

By using AND and OR you are joining your main concepts together to limit search results by making them specific, and you are also giving your search engine options to find relevant sources that may use different terms for the same thing.

Lincoln Memorial University

essay about search strategy

Lincoln Memorial University explains how Boolean operators (and, or, not) work using pirates and ninjas. It's worth a watch for the entertainment value alone.

Phrase searching

Phrase searching is an easy way to limit the number of your search results .

By using it, you are telling your search engine you want to search for words that are side-by-side or in a particular order. It's really important to use it for any concepts that are multi-worded, like "The Internet of Things" or "Postpartum depression".

If you don't use phrase searching for multi-worded terms, your search engine will look for each word separately and you will get a large number of results (many of which will be irrelevant for your research).

All you need to do is put quotation marks around your search terms , like this:

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Filters, limiters, and facets

Most databases give you options to narrow your search results according to a set of criteria. These criteria are called "filters" by some databases, and "limiters" or "facets" by others, but they all do the same thing.

They can allow you to limit your search results by things like:

They are often tick boxes or drop down menus in the advanced search:

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Search Strategy Essays

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