When compiling sources for a literature review, you will want to be strategic in order to locate the most important and relevant theories, concepts and information on your topic. Using the strategies on this page can improve your search results.
Before you start searching, you should reflect on your research question to identify the most relevant terms to search for. These keywords that you select can greatly impact what sources you find within the databases or on the Internet.
You may want to start a chart like the one on the right as you develop your keywords. Each column coincides with a main idea for your research question.
Boolean operators can help your searching by expanding or limiting the results. The term is just a another way of describing using AND, OR, and NOT in your searches.
By using an asterisk symbol (*) you can expand your results by increasing the number of spellings of a word that could be acceptable in the search. For example, in the image on the right, instead of only searching for the word "extremism", using the * symbol, the results will include words such as extremism, extremist, extreme and extremists and increase the number of search results.
This may work better with some words more than others. Using this technique with "social media" would not have the same impact.
Many of the databases in the library include limiters which allow you to focus your search further than keywords or Boolean operators.
With limiters, you can:
However, too many limiters can do just that – overly limit your results. Consider using basic limiters first such as date. Then review the results and use limiters for strategic searches.
As you read through the sources you find, you'll need to organize the results that are most relevant to your topic.
Strategies for organizing your results:
Below is a link to access a downloadable copy of the search chart:
Using QuickSearch for Research
The Pace Library’s QuickSearch engine can also be a valuable tool for your research.
This is a more advanced search strategy but may be helpful for finding sources! In citation mining, you are "searching" within the bibliography, or citations, of a relevant article that you've already found.