LearningSkillsHub

Developing a search strategy.

LearningSkillsHub

Developing a search strategy.

Refining your search strategy

Search strategies are live documents both before and during your search but post-search they become a way to demonstrate how you searched and how thorough your search was. Creating a search strategy is an iterative (step-by-step) process, building first on your research question/topic, then on your chosen inclusion and exclusion criteria and finally, the strategy is  exposed to a pilot or scoping search to test its rigour and identify any non-working parts.

The final stage of the search strategy creation process is to try out your strategy. Treat it as a first draft but rather than reading out loud, run the search in an academic search engine (i.e. Google Scholar) or bibliographic database (i.e. Web of Science).  Look at the results retrieved, are the results relevant, timely, of sufficient quality for an academic assignment? Are the results what you thought you’d find, or can you see nothing useful at all?  These are all important factors to iron out before you start your full search for literature otherwise you will waste time finding information that is not useful for your research.

See the image below for common search strategy problems often spotted during pilot searches and some tips for resolving the issue in your search strategy.

Common Search Strategy Problems Infographic. Click the image for the accessible version.

Click the image for the full image, or alternatively download the image below here: