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Education

Summarise your question or topic

This sounds obvious, but to begin searching you should be clear about the topic of your research or assignment.

If this is for an assessment, ensure you review your assessment instructions. You may already have received a topic, a statement or clues to guide your search.

So write down your summary and check that it's clear and focused.

You might like to use this search planner template to help you plan and construct your search.

Identify the keywords

Now highlight, underline or circle the keywords or main concepts in your summary. These words can help you build your search strategy and set parameters.

Think of alternative search words for each concept

These can be synonyms, related words, abbreviations, acronyms and other words that are specific to your topic.

To discover synonyms, refer to a thesaurus (such as https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus) and see what other words could be used.

Be clever

Now you have a strong basis for your search, it doesn't stop there.

Improve your search strategy using special characters and symbols to create clever search strings. There is more detail about these advanced techniques in the section on conducting your search

Document your search

This will help you plan your search properly and remember the techniques.

Download the planner below and follow the steps to create your own search strategy.
 

Search Planner (DOC, 1MB)

Types of information

How do I choose the right resource for my assignment? 

There are a number of different types of sources out there. Identifying the right one for your assignment is important. This handy guide below reveals different types of information sources. Click on each resource type along the left hand side bar to reveal more information.