Skip to Main Content

ECON 342

Research is not linear

Remember, research is not linear. You may not find everything you need after one search. If you do not find what you're looking for, try adapting or changing your search terms.

Description box

Searching in a library database is very different than searching in Google. The database uses certain language and codes to understand exactly what you're looking for.

Use the tips below to turn your research topic into a search strategy.

Already feel comfortable using these strategies? Try the Search Strategies (Advanced) page. 

Search Strategy 1: Break a topic into key concepts

Sample topic: “travel motivations of university students”  

Separate the key concepts of your research topic. Each key concept becomes a search term: 

Concept 1: Travel

Concept 2: Motivation 

Concept 3: University student

Demonstration of separating key concepts into different boxes in the databases' advanced search

Search Strategy 2: Brainstorm synonyms

The database tries to find articles that contain every search term you use. This means, if an author uses a different keyword than you, their article won't show up in the results list. Therefore, brainstorm synonyms for your keywords. Separate synonyms with OR to tell the database to look for articles with either word.  

Concept 1: Travel

Concept 2: Motivation OR Influence; 

Concept 3: University student OR College student 

Example of search strategy AND and OR to separate concepts