Nutrition and Food Science: Plan your search


You need to have a broad understanding of your topic to help you search for information and write your assignment. Also, ask yourself the following:

What do you already know about your topic? What do you need to explore further?

Do you need to define any terms or get an overview? Use the course readings, handbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries or introductory books.

What types of information do you need (for example: peer reviewed articles, books, reports, protocols, guidelines etc.)?
Does information need to be current?
Do any theories apply to your topic?
Do you need facts and figures? Try a reliable website or a relevant database.

Which parts of your argument need references as supporting evidence?  

What are the main concepts in your topic or research question? These will help you decide which keywords to use when searching.

Quick guides for more help getting started:

If you are required to decide on a research question it is important to pick a topic that interests you if you can.

Focusing your question

It is important to try and focus your question as much as possible. Watch the following videos to help you with this process:

TIP: Even though these videos do not use health topics the same theory applies across all disciplines.

[Watch low quality version of video]


Defining terms - some starters...

Search the Library catalogue to find more.


Organise your search plan

The following videos are good starting points for you to build your skills:
This video shows you how to break down a research question with multiple parts.

Breaking down your research question

This video shows your how to identify main concepts in your research question, and form a search strategy [Watch low quality version of video].

Planning how you are going to approach your search is key to searching successfully.

Example question: Does food advertising contribute to childhood obesity?

Key steps:

  1. Define any terms you are unsure of. Try a introductory book, dictionary, encyclopedia, or handbook.
  2. Identify main concepts in your question. These will form the foundation of your search.
    • Concept 1: food advertising
    • Concept 2: childhood obesity - you could split this concept into 2 parts: childhood / obesity.
  3. Identify any synonyms or similar keywords for each main concept.
    • Concept 1: food advertising, fast food advertising, junk food advertising
    • Concept 2: childhood, child, children
    • Concept 3: overweight, obese, body mass index 30+, bmit 30+
  4. Consider any:
    • word plurals (advert, adverts)
    • different word forms (diabetic vs diabetes),
    • different word spellings (celiac vs coeliac),
    • key acronyms (BMI vs Body Mass Index), and
    • hyphenated words (fast-food advertising vs fast food adversting).