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Plan your search

Choose your topic

Choosing and refining your topic is an integral part of the research process. View this video to learn more.

Picking your topic is research! by NCSU Libraries / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US

Search process

Search process


Tip - if your initial search is not successful, alter your search terms and techniques to improve results

Plan your search

To get the best results from databases, you need to plan an effective search strategy. A useful process is to break your question into parts using a concept map.  This will help you:

  • Formulate a clear, focussed research question/topic
  • Identify what evidence is needed to answer your question
  • Perform an efficient search for evidence

Always be prepared to review and amend your searching as you go along.  Sometimes your initial searches will not be effective so you may need to alter your search terms and techniques to improve your results.

Effective search tips

Become an effective online searcher by using common techniques that can be applied to almost any database, including library catalogues and commercial search engines.

These techniques will facilitate quick retrieval of relevant information from the thousands of records in a database: