It is important to map out how you will go about searching library databases, the library catalog, or even search engines like Google Scholar for research materials on your topic prior to beginning your search.
Steps for Creating a Search Strategy
1. Summarize your topic
2. Identify main concepts (keywords)
3. Identify synonyms, alternate words and/or related words
4. Try different combinations of keywords
Example: How does exposure to smokers affect children who have asthma?
What are the main concepts or keywords?
.....smoking, children, asthma
Think of synonyms, alternate words or/and related words.
.....secondhand smoke, smokers..... toddler, pediatric, child .... allergies, breathing problems
Develop your search strategy using the terms above.
Boolean operators, found on the advanced search pages in databases, help to narrow or broaden your search. The most useful are AND, OR, NOT which help to connect keywords or concepts.
You can use more than one Boolean connector in the same search statement, such as:
Depression AND Teenagers OR Adolescents
Smokers AND Children AND asthma OR breathing problems
Anorexia AND males AND college