Once you have a topic and background knowledge, identify the search ideas. Search ideas describe the main ideas or aspects of your research.
For example, I would like to research the foreign language skills of college students who participate in study abroad (the search ideas are in bold).
Make a list of connected search ideas with their synonyms. Why? It helps to find books and articles that use different words to talk about the same thing.
Typically, two to three. For newer or rarer topics, one might be enough. For broader topics, four might be needed.
|Synonyms||Search idea 1||OR||Synonym 1||...|
|Synonyms||Search idea 2||OR||Synonym 2||...|
Start with a few terms and leave space (going across) for more synonyms as you research.
So, for my example of researching the foreign language skills of college students who participate in study abroad programs, my search strategy would look like this.
|Synonyms||“foreign study”||OR||“study abroad”||OR||...|
|Synonyms||“college students”||OR||“higher education”||OR||...|
|Synonyms||“foreign language”||OR||“second languages”||OR||...|
Please note that if you have a search phrase, like “foreign study,” it must be in quotes so that the words are searched together in that order.
|Synonyms||"giant panda"||OR||panda||OR||"Ailuropoda melanoleuca"|
|Synonyms||"college students"||OR||"university students"||OR|