Designing 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:
Shared Library Catalogue
Use the Shared Library Catalogue with Western Libraries and the Affiliated University College Libraries to find books (print and online) on your topic.
CRCnetBASE offers instant access to the world's premier scientific, technical and medical references with added support for libraries.
A review paper can be really helpful in getting started - it synthesizes key research in your topic. Some databases let you limit to review papers; e.g. in Engineering Village databases main search interface you can limit to 'treatment type' of 'General Review' or 'Literature Review'.
You can find articles and conference papers in the following databases:
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.
Ulrich’s Periodical Directory
Use Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to find out if a journal is peer-reviewed.
Some articles and handbooks will provide you with data to work with. Other times, you will need to find data on you own. We list a few websites to try on our Finding Engineering/Science Data and Statistics page. Standards may also be useful.
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).