Before you start actually searching for information for your assignment, first:
1. Understand your topic and task
2. Identify main research concepts and alternative terms
3. Connect research concepts to form a search strategy
The video below shows the full process.
You must have a broad understanding of your topic before you can search for information or write your assignment. Consider:
What do you need to do?
What do you know? Or need to explore further?
Do you need to define any terms?
What types of evidence do you need?
Does information need to be current?
Do any theories apply to your topic?
Organisng your ideas and mapping your search can be useful when thinking about how you are going to search. Watch the following video to see how to do this.
[Watch low quality version of video]
You can easily create a mind map using Microsoft Word or Power Point. Below are some web tools that you may want to try:
Before you search for information you may need to do some initial background reading to gain a general overview of your topic, or clarify terms you are unsure of.
Reference books include encyclopaedias, handbooks, dictionaries, bibliographies and directories. Use them to define terms, or find topic overviews. Find more by searching the Library catalogue.
Example question: Effectiveness of physiotherapy interventions for people suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis
The main concepts in your question form the foundation of your search:
To cover the range of terminology used in the literature, you must also identify any synonyms or similar keywords for each concept:
Once you have your list of terms for each concept, you can combine them to create a search strategy.
First, simplify your search. Use truncation, wildcards and phrases to cover word variations:
finds unlimited characters after the symbol
must be used at the end of a word/wordstem
finds diabetic, diabetics, diabetes etc...
finds zero or one character to replace the symbol
can be used anywhere in a word
finds woman, women
finds celiac, coeliac
keeps two or more words together in the entered order
Now connect your remaining terms using AND, OR.
Use OR to connect different terms within the same concept
Use AND to connect each concept.
physiotherapy OR "physical therapy"
"Rheumatoid Arthritis" OR "atrophic arthritis"
Need more info? Check out our "How to" guides below.
Now you have finalised your search strategy, you are ready to start finding the evidence. Click the image to learn how.