Using information sources in a systematic and structured manner will save you a great deal of time and frustration. Developing a search strategy is vital, as it provides you with an overall structure for your search, and provides a record of your search history. This is an extremely useful record to have as you find yourself needing to refine or change the focus of your searching as your research develops. It can also improve the relevancy of results obtained as you have thought about keywords and synonyms and how these relate to each other.
Start by expressing your information need in words. This will assist you in thinking about what you need and determining terms to be used later. You may need to consult dictionaries or encyclopedia to clarify the topic.
From the title and abstract of your topic it is possible to identify various concepts and keywords. A concept map / mind map is a useful way to plot ideas.
Title: Attitudes and levels of knowledge of Hepatitis B in Aboriginal women
Here are some additional resources on Concept Mapping for research.
At this stage you need to identify synonyms for the keywords and concepts you have previously developed . You should choose words that uniquely describe the topic, and you should also list words and concepts you do not want included. You may also need to think about the discipline area and database(s) you will be searching, as there may be a subject specific or database-specific thesaurus that will help you further identify keywords. One way of listing keywords and alternate terms is in a table.
Title: Some aspects of the lattice of all radical classes
Description: Identify examples of pseudocomplements and complements in the lattice of all radical classes and its sublattice, the lattice of all hereditary radical classes, and describe explicitly radical classes complemented and pseudocomplemented in these structures.
|concept 1||concept 2||concept 3||concept 4|
Selection of an information source that best matches your information need is important. It will not matter how carefully you have thought out your keywords etc if you are not using an appropriate source. All libraries offer a range of sources. Discipline Research Guides have been created by BU librarians to give guidance as to the most appropriate sources. It is also important that you ascertain the scope (content, years covered, etc. ) of each source and learn the features (e.g. Is truncation used? Is boolean logic supported? etc). It is well worth the effort of reading the HELP screens available on each information source and using the advanced searching feature whenever available.
As sources are accessed and retrieved, look at each work closely. Read the abstract, introduction and conclusion. Before assessing the relevance of the item to your topic, it is vital that the scope, integrity and standing of the source is ascertained. As you retrieve sources:
As sources are selected and used, critically analyze the content. As you use resources:
At all stages of the process it is vital that the search process is evaluated. Sometimes the inability to find relevant information can be attributed to a poorly constructed search strategy, inappropriate search terms, poor retrieval methods or inappropriate source. This can also apply to instances where too much material is retrieved. Too few, too many or inappropriate search results could mean:
It may be helpful to keep a list of keywords, search strategies and techniques along the way. Also keep a list of those that didn’t work. By adding a date to all your searching activity you will be prompted when searches need updating.
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