A search strategy is a method for efficiently finding information you need to answer your research query or queries.

By using a search startegy you are working systematically to find relevant information. This way your results will be more specific and you won't spend too much time reading irrelevant material.

Effective search strategy

For an effective search strategy ask yourself 4 questions:

  1. What am I looking for?
    • Which subject(s) do you want information about?
    • In which type of document might you find that information?
  2. Where should I search?
    • Choose the right database/catalogue/website, etc.; this choice depends on the answers to 1a and 1b. The library offers search engines by discipline.
  3. How do I search?
    • ​​Search efficiently: use relevant search terms and take advantage of the functionality of the database/search engine etc.
    • There are different search methods. The bibliographical method (using search terms in scientific search engines) and the snowball method (using references you already have) are the two most important. How to use them exactly depends on the possibilities the search engine offers.
  4. How do I evaluate?
    • Does the information you found answer your (partial) research query?
    • Is the quality of the information good?

Evaluating search results

You need to evaluate the sources you find for relevance and scientific nature. That way you improve the scientific reliablity of your text. There are different ways to do so and a number of recources to help you. Please read the page 'Evaluating sources' for more information.

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