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Create an effective search strategy
Think of your topic in terms of concepts
- Create a search strategy by breaking down your research topic into individual concepts
- The research topic: How can we teach financial literacy to university students?
- becomes the concepts of teach, financial literacy and students
- Think of different words to describe each concept (like synonyms):
- teach can also be thought of as learning or education
- financial literacy can be phrased as financially literate
Use Boolean operators
- Use Boolean operators to combine your keywords into a strategy that the search algorithm of the research database can read.
- eg. using synonyms or like terms: (teach OR learning OR education)
- eg.combining the concepts (teach OR learning OR education) AND (financial literacy OR financially literate) AND (students)
Special search symbols
- Some research databases have special symbols that allow you to improve your search strategy
- eg. (teach* OR learn* OR educat*) AND (“financial literacy” OR “financially literate”) AND (student*)
Background or basic information
- Need to find background or basic information on a topic from a journal article?
- Add the term "review" to your search as another concept.
- Review articles summarize the information known on a topic which make them great for getting started!
("travelling salesman problem" OR tsp) AND review
About Boolean operators and special symbols
- Use AND to combine concepts so you can find articles that include all of your words.
- Use OR to combine synonyms so you can find articles that include any of your words.
Special search symbols
- Use the * (asterisk) at the end of a root word to find that word and all of its possible endings.
- For example, searching Canad* will retrieve any articles that contain the words Canada, Canadian or Canadians.
- This is also called truncation. Be careful! Not all databases use the * (asterisk).
- Use " " (quotation marks) to search for a phrase.
- This ensures you only find articles containing those exact words in that exact order.