Develop your search strategy
Different databases work in different ways, so you need to adapt your search strategy for each of the databases you use. This process is often referred to as "tailoring" your search. You may also decide to develop separate search strategies for different aspects of your research.
Understanding your topic also means to define the pieces of your puzzle and what information you need. You need some focused research questions: 1-2 clear questions, 1-2 theoretical and 4-5 general research questions. Make a listing of these questions.
Be creative, discuss among yourself and with others, isolate key concept, technical; terms, synonyms, etc.
The words and phrases showed below in bold are the main concepts in our example research question. They become the words and phrases you type into the search boxes of the information source you choose.
Methods to avoid biological contamination of Moon samples?
Once you have established these useful concepts, list their synonyms, including variant spellings, variant endings (plural, singular, etc). You don't necessarily need to include all of these elements when you search if, for example, you are not interested in a comparison, then leave it out.
- Think about spellings and terminology, e.g. behavior (UK) and behavior (US)
- Try both singulars and plurals. Some databases don't automatically look for single and plural versions of a word
- Combine terms with AND, OR and NOT
Understand basic search techniques
A keyword search generally only looks for your search terms in the title and abstract of a reference in the research database. This is because databases do not usually contain the full text of the articles, just information about an article (such as the author, article title, date, journal title, and an abstract where available).
Subject headings are a controlled vocabulary that a database uses to classify what an article is about. Using subject headings should retrieve those articles that are about that subject, even if the article itself doesn't use those words.
You should include subject heading (as well as keyword) searches in your strategy if you are undertaking a systematic-review or in-depth piece of work.
Boolean operators (AND, OR and NOT) allow you to combine search terms in different combinations. Databases oBoolean operators (AND, OR and NOT) allow you to combine search terms in different combinations. Databases often show Boolean operators as buttons or drop-down menus that you can click to combine your search terms or results.
How to Google right
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