Whether you write a full strategy document, have one scribbled in the back of a notebook or have a vague string of useful terms in your phone notes, make sure you assess it for thoroughness and suitability. Reflect on whether you have:
Used a variety of relevant search words.
Expressed your inclusion/exclusion criteria as limits such as date, age, geographic location etc.
Made a list of appropriate resources to search.
Carried out a pilot/scoping search and, if necessary, refined your search strategy.
If yes, then you are ready to begin your main search.
Creating a search strategy may seem like just one more thing to add to your list of tasks but it is helpful for ensuring your search is efficient and effective . Additionally search strategies can be used to show how thoroughly you have searched, as a basis to record your search and to communicate to others where you found your evidence. The next time you read a journal article, check their methodology section, see if they have included a summary of their search strategy and think about why they have done this. What do you, as a reader/fellow researcher, gain from seeing their search strategy?
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