This section focuses on the basic rules of searching and how to do a systematic search for literature so you will not miss important publications on the topic you want to investigate.


When you need to write an essay, solve a problem, or do research, the first thing you need is information. Selecting the best source to search, choosing the most appropriate words, and combining them successfully might be difficult. Searching is a process of discovery that may expand your knowledge and broaden your views. It can be one of the most creative aspects of research. Once you master the necessary information skills, you might find you enjoy it.

To see how information skills fit in the research process, take a look at this video:

The easiest way to search for information electronically is to enter a couple of keywords into the search box of the resource and see what type of results you get. This strategy, however, will often result in too few, too many, or irrelevant results. In order to retrieve the most relevant results, you will need to create a search strategy. The more care and thought you put into your search strategy, the more relevant your search results will be. For designing a search strategy it is important to identify your information need and make a clear definition of the topic.

There are different stages in the process of building a search strategy:

  1. Clear and focused research question
  2. Identify the key concepts
  3. Synonyms, related terms, broader/narrower terms
  4. Create query including Boolean and search operators
  5. What information are you looking for? 
  6. Where will you be able to find this information? 
  7. Start searching