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Build your search

Developing a comprehensive search strategy is an iterative (circular) process.

Use scoping searching to discover key terminology, then adapt and rerun searches until you reach the point where you have a comprehensive but precise search strategy.

Techniques for developing a search strategy:

  • mind mapping or concept mapping
  • tabling

Watch this short video on how to mind map by creator Tony Buzan

Use the following worksheet to help you map out your search:

More help:

The planning process

  Watch one of the below videos for a quick overview on planning a search strategy.

Even though the research questions used may not be in your discipline area, you can apply the techniques shown to your own question.

How to plan step by step

Example question:

Does the general public support the use of quotas as a strategy to get more women into parliament?

More help:

Whether or not to split phrases

It may be better to split certain phrases to search for them as two separate concepts instead of one. This will depend on how they are written in the literature. For example:

  • "safe practices"
  • practices that are safe

If you think you will split a phrase consider whether you will add it:

  • as another concept connected with AND
    • safe* AND practice*
  • with a proximity operator
    • safe* Near/4 practice*

Proximity operators finds concepts within a certain amount of words, proximity, from each other. This symbol can vary between databases.