Search and find



Last updated on 10 February 2017.

Define the subject

How should it meet the request?
Consult the teacher or counselor about:

    • purpose
    • contents
    • level
    • length

Think out questions

Translate the job into one or more questions. This focuses your search for answers:

  • What is the central issue?
  • Think out sub-questions

How to formulate questions will probably be covered in classes such as writing skills and research skills.

Last updated on 21 August 2015.

The question often makes it clear what kind of source will be appropriate for finding an answer.

For general questions you often use a book. This gives you an idea of the subject.

If you look for 'hard' research then you will rather choose a scientific article.

Click here for different source types and how to use them in general.

If you work longer on an issue it is useful to use tools as RSS and allow information to come automatically to you.

Last updated on 21 August 2015.

Formulate search terms

Create a list of search terms for each part question

Example social media. Think about:

Singular and plural social medium or social media
Synonyms social networks
Related terms with virtually the same meaning social networking
Exact phrase "laughing out loud"
Abbreviation LOL
Different spelling British English and American English internetorganisation or internetorganization
Umbrella term media
Narrower term Instagram
Term in another language Les media sociaux (French)

Tips for collecting search terms

  • Use the words from the original question, assignment or case study
  • Use dictionaries or search for synonyms on the Internet
  • Read general texts on the subject and look for terminology/jargon
  • Search for related terms
  • Use mind mapping to brainstorm about the subject
  • Look in the bibliography of a useful source
  • Look in literature lists for an author name that often occurs. Maybe it's a specialist. Use the name as a search term.
  • Wikipedia is useful for as well synonyms, terminology as literature lists

Tips for searching in English

  • Dictionaries
  • Google Translate. Click on the translation alternatives.
  • Note the context in which words are used
  • The same word in different languages ​​can have a very different meaning
  • Note the differences between British and American English
Last updated on 21 August 2015.

How do I use what I have found?

Make a selection

Read the information and make an overall assessment of the usability.

  • Scan the introduction, conclusion, summary or headings

To what extent does the information answer the question?

  • A part of the answer?
  • A reference to the answer?

The position of the search term may give an indication of the usefulness of the source.

If the term is part of the title or occurs in the abstract it will probably be more useful than when the term only appears in the text.

Judge your sources

Estimate the expertise of the source and the compiler(s).
How recent is the information? Is that important?
Interpret text, figures and tables and draw conclusions.

To evaluate websites you can use:

Preserve your results

Keep the relevant information --> Managing references with RefWorks.

Last updated on 21 August 2015.
  • Read and study the text closely
  • Make connections with other information
  • Make connections with your own knowledge
  • Bring the information together in a logical structure
  • Record the exact source references

How to do this

  • Summarize in your own words the essence of the information
  • Group the information to the questions and sub-questions
  • Process it into a final product that meets the requirements for style and structure
  • Ensure proper citation and source acknowledgements (APA and RefWorks)

Plagiarism and copyright: what is allowed, what is not?

Last updated on 21 August 2015.

Evaluate the outcome and the process

  • How efficient was the search process?
  • How useful are the search results?
  • What could be better?

How do you handle this?

  • Always be sure your work still meets the requirements
  • Identify the steps of the cycle that are not good enough
  • Ask for feedback on the quantity and quality of the information found
  • Are there tools for improvement?
Last updated on 21 August 2015.