Step 5: Search Strategies and Concept MapsSkip to Step 6: Finding books, articles & videos
It is important to map out how you will go about searching for research materials on your topic prior to beginning your search. Here is an example of a search strategy worksheet [PDF] that you may find helpful as you read through this page.
- Steps for creating a search strategy
- Concept mapping
- Searching by keyword
- Searching by subject Heading
- Searching by author
- Searching by title
Steps for Creating a Search Strategy1. State your search topic.
Small loans given through microcredit organizations help to reduce poverty in developing nations.
2. Identify major concepts and relevant keywords(think of synonyms).
- microcredit and poverty
- microcredit and "developing countr*"
- microcredit and women and "non-governmental organization*"
- (microcredit or microfinance) and women
Watch a short video explaining Boolean operators.
Concept mappingA concept map is a diagram that illustrates the relationships between related topics by visually showing the links between a broader topic and relevant sub-topics, or showing the links between multiple related terms. It enables you to quickly find information when you don't know exactly what to look for or want to expand your knowledge of a given area.
Create a concept map for ...
To download blank concept mapping templates, visit MyMindMap.net.
Searching by KeywordKeywords are significant words (usually nouns or noun phrases) which can be used as search terms in online catalogs or databases. You should search by keyword when you want to know what materials the library has on a particular topic or if you are unsure about the author or title of an item.
To search by keyword, enter one or more search terms. Try enclosing phrases with quotation marks in order to search for that exact phrase.
- graphic novels
- "employee assistance programs"
- Hypnot* (retrieves hypnotism, hypnotist, hypnotic, hypnotists)
Boolean operators help to narrow or broaden your search. The most useful logical connectors are AND, OR, NOT.
AND finds records containing both terms. This narrows the search. For example:
- Picasso AND Mona Lisa
- Alcohol AND anxiety
- Behavior OR Behaviour
- Global warming OR Greenhouse effect
- Fisheries NOT Alaska
- Textile industry NOT cotton
- Depression AND Teenagers OR Adolescents
Searching by Subject HeadingSubject headings are words given to books that describe what the book is about. Once you know the subject heading, you can find other books and materials related to the same topic. As in most academic libraries, McKillop Library uses the The Library of Congress Classification System (LC System).
You can often find relevant subject headings by looking into an itemís record in the catalog:
Searching by AuthorAn author search looks for a personal name, organization, conference, or government body. Personal names include authors, actors, directors, editors, composers, etc. You can search by last name only, last name first initial, or last name and first name:
- Dickens Charles
- Rowling J
- Cruise Tom
- Sondheim Stephen
- White House Conference on Aging
- United States Congress
Searching by TitleTitle searches can include titles of books, journals, plays, government documents, musical scores, etc.
Do not abbreviate words in a title search although you may truncate (shorten) the last word. If you cannot find the item by title: check your spelling, try a shortened form of the title, or try a keyword search. Example title searches:
- Harry Potter
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
- Journal of the American Heart Assoc
You should have a research topic and a list of some keywords as well as a search strategy. Next, let's find books, articles and other materials to use in our research project!