Required to find additional information resources for your assignment. The key steps include:

  1. planning your search before carrying it out, which will save you time
  2. narrowing and focusing your search to exclude less relevant results
  3. evaluating what you find, so you can decide what to include in your assignment
  4. keeping track of the sources you intend to use

Planning your search

Check what you are being asked to do by looking at the guidance notes in your module materials.Think about what you already know. Where are the gaps in your knowledge? What do you need to find out? Think about what you are really looking for and decide which words best describe your topic. Be focused and specific.

Think about synonyms, or alternative terms for your subject, for example, soccer or football; children or young people.

What sort of information are you looking for? For example, a basic introduction, a detailed explanation, a set of statistics providing evidence of research? Think about where you are most likely to find this: an online reference work might give you a basic introduction, a book may provide a more detailed explanation and a statistics database or journal article may be the place to find evidence.


To learn how to focus your search using targeted keywords explore the 5 minute choosing good keywords activity on Being Digital.

Have a go at searching using some of the keywords you’ve identified and adapt your search as you go along, depending on what you find.

If you don’t find anything within a reasonable time period, e.g. 30 minutes, be prepared to change your strategy. For example, use different words to search or use a different resource.

You can add keywords to make your search more specific if you have too many results. If you find too few results, try removing words to make your search broader.Most search tools give you the option to filter your search results by subject or resource type. Try using these to increase the relevancy of your search results and reduce the number you need to look through.Advanced search options allow you to look for your search terms within a particular part of the details associated with each item, e.g. author or subject. You can use these to hone your search so that it gives you the most relevant results. When you first start these can be tricky, try it with one search term first to build your skills.


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