Skills Hub

How to start searching for information

Before you start searching, you need to prepare your search. Think about what is it that you want to find out.

Analyze your topic or research question and identify suitable keywords, phrases and synonyms (alternative words that have a similar meaning) that will enable you to find relevant sources when searching.

Once you have considered all the relevant search words and synonyms, you will need to connect them together in the search engine or database. This can be done using search connectors, known as Boolean operators. See the Boolean Searching page to learn how. Combining your search words using connectors can improve the relevancy of your results, because connectors command the search engine or database you are using to search your keywords in a more specific and filtered way.

By taking a little bit of time to prepare your search you will have a strategy in place to enable your search online resources most effectively. The image below illustrates the individual steps you want to take with your search to ensure a comprehensive search strategy.

These six individual steps are:  

  • Identify your topic's key words/terms
  • Make a list of alternative terms
  • Combine keywords using connectors and wildcards
  • Search appropriate catalogs and databases
  • Refine search results using database search filters
  • Save your search and material found 

Searching for information cycle

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