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Plan your search strategy

Take time to plan your search approach including where to search and what keywords to use.

Searching is an organic process. Adapt your strategy to incorporate new keywords you discover to find more relevant results.


Test your knowledge

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What keywords should I search with?

Start by highlighting the key content words, the main ideas, in your research question or task.

Ask: What do I need to find out? How would I explain my task/question to another person?

For example:

'Argue to which degree increased working hours impact on family life'

Tip: Also note any task words which tell you what to do e.g. discuss, argue, analyse, compare etc. You do not need to search on these.

Synonyms and alternative keywords

Next consider any synonyms or alternative keywords you could include in your searches. Note these down.

Ask: Do authors refer to the key concepts (main ideas) in other ways? What keywords are used in the course website or readings?

For example:

  • Working hours: employment hours, job hours, shift work, shift worker, hours of work
  • Family: families, parent, parenting, parents, sole parent, single parent
  • Impact: impacts, impacting, effect

Tip: Besides synonyms consider common acronyms, plurals, different word forms and different word spellings.

Mind it out

Use a table or mind map to capture and organise keywords.

Example Mind Map, Copyright University of South Australia

Created using other free programs are available online including Text2MindMap

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