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ACC200 Research Skills Guide: Identify

Identifying what you need

Planning an effective search strategy can save you time and retrieve more relevant results

At this first stage, you need to work out:

  • What the assessment is asking you to do.
  • How you are going to search for answers to the question.

If you are confused or unsure about the assessment topic, ask your lecturer or tutor who will be happy to talk it through with you.

What is a search strategy?

A search strategy is a well thought out plan about how to search for relevant information. Using information sources in a consistent, structured manner will save you time. As your searching progresses and your searches are refined, your search history can be extremely useful.  It can also improve the relevancy of results obtained, as you reflect on your keywords and synonyms and how these relate to each other.

To develop a search strategy you will need to:

  • define your assessment question - what is it that you are going to research?
  • identify key words, terms and phrases - called a Topic Analysis - concept/mind maps can help tease out themes and keywords
  • identify keyword synonyms
  • determine a timeframe from your research, if needed
  • consider what type material you will include and why
  • identify where you will search for the information

Search cycle

Diagram illustrating the literature search cycle. A circle in quarters.  Top left quarter is identify main concepts with rectangle describing how to do this by identifying
controlled vocabulary terms, synonyms, keywords and spelling. Top right quarter select library resources to search and rectangle describing resources to search 
library catalogue relevant journal articles and other resource. Bottom right corner of circle search resources and in rectangle consider using boolean searching
proximity searching and truncated searching techniques. Bottom left quarter of circle review and refine results. In rectangle evaluate results, rethink keywords and 
create alerts.