The research process

Developing a Search Strategy: Process Overview


  1. Ask: State your topic as a question to focus your search. Ask: Is my question too broad or too narrow?
  2. Define need: Define your information need. Ask: what sort and how much information do I need?
  3. Identify main concepts from your question. Ask: What are the most important terms in my question?
  4. Select unique words, synonyms, spellings, plurals, broader topic. Ask: What are some discipline specific thesauri?
  5. Select appropriate professional sources. Ask: Should I use tertiary, secondary or primary sources? What is the best place to start?
  6. Search: Construct a search with appropriate commands for the system selected. Ask: Am I searching efficiently?
  7. Revise: Be prepared to revise and refine your search. Ask: Did I retrieve all information that I need?
  8. Manage results: Retrieve records, full text, save, print, cite, email. Ask: How do I get full text? How will I use this information in teh future?
  9. Evaluate: Find out how good the information is. Ask: Can i trust this information? Is this a highly cited article?
  10. Apply: Answer your question. Ask: Did I answer my question? Do I still need more information?

Remember: Your question drives your the search strategy. There is no one best way to search. Avoid the one stop searching to prevent bias.

How to create an outline

An outline serves as a road map as you write your paper and ultimately saves you time.  These resources provide tips on writing an effective outline: