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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.

Libguide search strategy and Compass

The LibGuide Search strategy can be used independently, but also serves to offer in-depth information related to module 2 'Setting up your search' of Compass, the online information skills training.

Effective search strategy

You could ask yourself a couple of questions in relation to an effective search strategy:

What am I searching for?
a. What is the subject of your search?
b. What types of documents contain the relevant information?
Then formulate a clear search question with the most useful search terms.

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.

How to search?
a. Perform an efficient search: use relevant search terms and make use of the functionalities of the databases and search engines (search techniques).
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.

Can I use the sources I find and how do I select/assess the results?
Before you use the sources you found, you need to evaluate their relevance and scientific nature. This increases the reliability of your text. For answers to these questions, visit the LibGuide Evaluating sources.

Search strategy diagram (from Compass)


To 'Formulating the search question'

Find out more about:

The University library offers three online training courses in the field of information skills:

On the website of the Utrecht University Library you can find more information and help in searching.