My name is Stacy Anderson, and I am the librarian who works with the students in the Social Work program. I hope this guide helps you with the research you need to do for SCWK 240. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need help!
Why Develop a Search Strategy?
Before starting a search, it is helpful to clarify what you are looking for by developing a search strategy. Developing a search strategy is a useful practice for several important reasons.
- Helps focus your search
- Gives you something to work with
- Saves you time in the long run
- Helps you find larger amount of relevant information
Buliding a Search Strategy
Think about the focus of your question. Summarize your topic in one or two sentences or questions; try to be as specific as possible.
Example: How are children affected when their parents are prisoners?
Identify key concepts. Using your summarization, idenitfy the two or three main concepts.
Example: children prisoner parents
Select terms to describe your concepts. Remember to include other words that describe these concepts including synonyms, plurals, and variant spellings.
Example: children child; prisoner prisoners inmate inmates incarcerated; parents parent mother mothers father fathers
Combine the terms into a search statement. Connect the terms that are similar with the word OR. OR tells the database that any or all terms must be included. The results will include any, but not necessarily all of these terms. Use paraentheses to group like terms together and to clarify the relationship between terms.
Example: (child*)(parent* or mother* or father*)(prisoner* or inmate* or incarcerat*)
Connect these OR concepts with the word AND between the parantheses.
Example: (child*) and (parent* or mother* or father*) and (prisoner* or inmate* or incarcerat*)
Build on what you've found. The research process is not linear but cyclical. When you find articles that seem relevant, use the subject headings, or descriptors, and citations from those articles to expand your search. This process will help you re-evaluate your ideas and refocus your search if necessary.
What if you absolutely cannot think of other search terms to describe your topic? Remember you can always email or call me!
This power point has more information on developing a search strategy: Getting Started With Research