Developing Search Strategies
- Select keywords from your research topic
- Find synonyms or related terms for each of the keyword you identified above
- Use Boolean operators (AND, OR) to connect your keyword; Combine concepts using AND, and combine alternate terms within a concept using OR
- Select search tools (library catalogue, databases, etc.)
- Conduct your search
- Review your search results and revise your search if necessary
You can use the Search Strategy Worksheet below to help you develop your search strategies.
Finding information on your topic
If you are new to your topic or would like to start by reading some more general background information, here are some good places to start:
Use Omni to find books (print and online) on your topic from Western Libraries and the Affiliated University College Libraries
CRCnetBASE offers e-handbooks and e-books in multiple disciplines.
Note: Review articles, an important source of background information, can be really helpful in getting started: They synthesize key research on your topic, and normally are written by experts in your fields. Many databases let you limit to review papers. You can also use Ulrich's Periodical Directory to find out if a journal is peer-reviewed.
You can find articles and conference papers in the following databases:
Web of Science
The Web of Science provides seamless access to current and retrospective multidisciplinary information from approximately 8,700 of the most prestigious, high impact research journals in the world.
Scopus is a navigation tool covering the world's largest collection of abstracts, references and indexes of scientific, technical and medical (STM) literature. Seamless links to full-text articles and other library resources make Scopus quick, easy and comprehensive.
IEEE Xplore Digital Library
IEEE Xplore is the IEEE's electronic library. It holds all IEEE and IET journals and conference proceedings published since 1988 as well as all current IEEE standards.
Publications from Organizations or Governments
Some articles and handbooks provide you with data to work with. Check the recommended resources listed on our Finding Engineering/Science Data and Statistics page.
Check the Finding Patents and Finding Dissertations guides for relevant resources.
What if the library doesn't have an article or book you want? Use the Interlibrary Loan / RACER system to request it from another library (generally free of charge for Western users).