Developing a Core Search Strategy

Before diving into this deep sea of knowledge and swimming in all sorts of directions trying to find whatever it is you are looking for, that you might later even have trouble defining is very important to stop for a second and develop a sort-of strategy.
I have come cross 2 types of PhD students: the ones that define their strategy very well, who have inclusion and exclusion criteria and know exactly which are the relevant and not relevant articles and those who follow traces, that is those who find a really good article and then they trace from the quotations other relevant articles.
No matter what your choice is, the core to a sound research seems to be this: developing and implementing a good search strategy.
There are plenty of advantages to doing this, but basically this will help you:
– save a lot of time
– get the best possible results

The 3 most important decisions you have to take when developing a Search Strategy are:
1. Define your Research Question
– What is your topic about?
– What are the concepts?
– Define your concepts
2. Make a list of the relevant keywords
– What are the keywords or key phrases related to the key concepts?
3. Define the order in which you enter the keywords
– How to enter the keywords?
– How to use Boolean string operators AND/OR/NOT? Inclusion/Exclusion criteria?
– How to use Truncation to get better results?

Now that you defined all this, please consider organizing carefully your search.
Always save a good search.
Use a citation management software (e.g. RefWorks, EndNote, Mendeley); there are quite a few out there: there is no good or not so good, they all have advantages and disadvantages.
I would encourage you to try a few before deciding, because you never know which one suits you and your working style best.

Good luck on your search 🙂

Hunter Library – Formulating a Search Strategy, Retrieved from on 28.10.2013, 16:09
Thomson Rivers University – TRU Library’s Developing Effective Search Strategies, Retrieved from on 27.10.2013, 15:34
university of Southampton – Developing an Effective Search Strategy, Retrieved from on 27.10.2013, 15:45