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Search Strategy

Adopted from the original Search Strategy Worksheet on the HSU Library website

Step Three


In the Your Search Topic section below, create a list of words or phrases which describes each of your numbered concepts identified in Step 2. In making a list of keywords consider the following:

  1. Use "free text" words and phrases likely to appear in the title, abstract or fulltext of literature you are attempting to retrieve. Try to think of appropriate synonyms or variant forms since a variety of words and phrases could be used to describe the same concept.
  2. Use "controlled" words and phrases added by an indexer to each reference in an index or catalog. These are useful for uniting under one standardized term a concept described by several synonymous words and phrases. Use the thesaurus or indexing guide for the index or catalog you will search for a list of these "controlled" words and phrases. For the HSU Library Catalog and most other library catalogs it is Library of Congress Subject Headings. Many databases have a thesaurus that lists their "controlled" words.
  3. In developing keyword lists consider possible hierarchical relationships within a particular concept. For example, with a taxonomic concept are you only interested in locating research on a particular species or is a broader taxonomic classification also of interest; or for a geographic concept, are you only interested in a particular country or is the broader region also of interest?
  4. Use word truncation. Examine each keyword to see if it can be truncated with a symbol (e.g., *, #, ?, +) to retrieve all variant forms after its "root" form, such as plurals. For example, prevent* will retrieve prevention, preventing, prevented, or prevents. To find the correct truncation symbol, consult the help section in the database you will be using.

This list of keywords is dynamic. As you proceed in your search for desired information, and as your personal knowledge increases, your list of appropriate keywords is also likely to grow and/or be refined.

Sample Search Topic:

Concept 1
home schooling
and Concept 2
socialization or social development or social skill*

Your Search Topic:

Concept 1
  Concept 2
  Concept 3