How to search?

If you are looking for information for an assignment or project, you sometimes don’t know where to start. There is so much information available in so many different places that you can easily get lost. So get to work in a structured manner according to a fixed step-by-step plan or search plan. This saves time and often results in better search results.

The search process is divided into the following steps:

The first step is perhaps the most important one. You determine what you want to know and translate this into a query. This question is the starting point and foundation of your search. You will learn how to do this and what to look out for when clarifying the assignment and asking a good query.

After defining the search query, you have to come up with search terms. The use of the right search terms is very important. May be you are used to enter a few terms in the search bar at random. If you do not immediately find the information you are looking for in this way, you may wrongly think that the information is not there. By coming up with search terms in a structured way before you start searching, your search results will be much better.

This chapter is about:

  • Finding search term
  • Tools

What types of information sources are there and where can you find them? Not all information is suitable for all purposes. Sometimes you want to know what the latest developments in your field are, other times you need figures to support your report.

All this information can be found in various sources. There are sources of information with only company information, but also sources with newspaper articles. Before you start searching, it is therefore good to have an idea of the different types of information and associated sources.

To help you on your way, the information isclassified in three ways.

  • Form
  • Level
  • Content

You have listed the queries and search terms and have chosen sources of information. Now you can really start searching. In this step you will learn a number of techniques to search more effectively:

Search techniques

  • Simple or advanced search
  • Combining words: boolean search
  • Exact word combinations and proximity operators
  • Truncation and wildcards
  • Keywords
  • Thesauri

Search methods

  • Snowball method
  • Citation search
  • Expand and limit search terms
  • Improve search results

During your search you will find all kinds of information. You only want to use relevant and reliable sources of this information. In this step we give you guidelines to assess different sources.
The most important criteria on which you judge publications are:

  • Relevance: the extent to which the information contributes to answering the (research) question.
  • Reliability: the extent to which you can trust that the information is correct.
  • Assessing books on relevance and reliability
  • Assessing articles for relevance and reliability
  • Assessing websites on relevance and reliability

Any information you find in other publications can be used for your studies. Not only information from books and articles, but also information from websites.

However, there is a very important requirement:
You should always refer to the source: mention where you found the information.

  • APA referencing
  • Copyright
  • Plagiarism
  • Quote
  • Paraphrasing
  • Bibliography / literature list