Search Strategies

It’s now time to gather the information that will support your ideas. But before you start using the various research tools, it is necessary to build a search strategy. With the proper search terms you will find relevant information and make more efficient use of your time.  If not, you will be frustrated at not finding any useful documents or having far too many to read.

Start by looking closely at your topic to determine its main ideas. By brainstorming, you will have a list of for each idea (concept). These keywords can be put together to build a search statement. Once your search strategy is prepared you will be ready to use the various research tools.

Researching a paper is not a linear process. Be ready to modify your research question if it is not yielding good results.  Note down all terms and keywords that you come across during your research. They may be useful. Redo your search using new terms if you aren’t happy with the amount of information retrieved. If at any time you’re stuck please ask a librarian for help.



  • Keep track of which quotes you want to use and what you would like to paraphrase.
  • Make note of all the relevant information for each of your information sources: author, title, publishing information, page number, date, etc. Include where you found it: database name, library, or on the web.
  • Save any web page you’re going to use: either print it out or save to your computer. Web pages can change.

The main words of your research topic.
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