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Planning Your Search

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Finding the best resources for a research paper or project doesn't happen without some effort. Creating a search strategy is a key component for retrieving relevant search results. 

Basic Steps to Formulating a Search Strategy:

  1. Define what the articles/materials need to be about.
    1. Break your topic into concepts.
  2. List all of the relevant keywords.
    1. Identify similar or related keywords/keyword phrases.
  3. Organize your search.
    1. Establish relationships between concepts using search operators (and, or, not).
  4. Choose databases and search engines appropriate for your topic.
    1. Library databases can be either general, such as Academic Search Complete, or specific, such as Military and Government Collection.
    2. Most search engines are not subject specific, and are designed for broad searches of the open web.
  5. Evaluate your results and refine your search to retrieve additional relevant resources.

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