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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Search strategy: Get going

Introduction search strategy

A search strategy is a way to efficiently find the information needed to answer your research question.

A search strategy helps you to go about your work systematically, resulting in finding relevant information. By giving focus to your search you will get more specific results and spend less time reading irrelevant material.

Effective search strategy

You could ask yourself four questions in relation to an effective search strategy:

1.   What am I searching for?
a.  What is the subject of your search?
b.  What types of documents contain the relevant information?

2.   Where to search?
Choose the most suitable database/catalogue/website etc.: your choice is dependent on the answers to questions 1a and 1b. The library gives access to search engines for each discipline.

3.    How to search?
a. Perform an efficient search: use relevant search terms and make use of the functionalities of the databases and search engines
b. There are several search methods. The bibliographic method (entering search terms in scientific search engines) and the snowball/citation search method (basing your search on something you already found) are the major ones. How to use these methods exactly depends on the options the search engines offer.

4.   How do I select/assess the results?
a. Does the information you found answer (part of) your research question and
b. Is the information of good quality?

Formulating the search question

Assessing the search results

Before you use the sources you have found their relevance and scientific nature should be evaluated.This increases the reliability of your text. Methods and resources can be found in the LibGuide Evaluating sources.