Planning a search
Planning techniques can make the search process much more effective. Here we demonstrate the process of breaking down a topic question to pinpoint the range of ideas it includes, and then show how to translate this into a search strategy or statement. The search statement can then be applied to whichever information sources your students might decide to use, such as specific databases or library catalogues.
A useful start is the Planning your search checklist from the Safari online information skills tutorial, which guides students through the process of breaking down a search question and translating it into a search statement.
These materials will help your students to:
- know how to use a systematic approach to plan a literature search
Suggested level: 2 and beyond
- Post the link to the checklist for planning a search to your module forum or module website, or send it to students in hard copy before a tutorial. Include a brief explanation of the importance of planning a search when beginning to research a topic. They will also find the information in Safari on planning a search which is a helpful guide through the process.
- Encourage students coming to a face-to-face tutorial to bring examples of search questions within their subject area. Split students into small groups to work through the checklist, using an example relevant to the module. Ask these groups to report back to the main group and discuss the search statements that they have chosen. Can they be improved further?
- If you don’t meet your students face to face, encourage them to work through the checklist using examples of questions within their subject area and report back to the module forum.