Systematic searching requires both a careful search plan that you follow and the use of a wide range of databases. You also need to be able to repeat and report on your searches.
The information retrieval process follows a formula of PLAN - SEARCH - EVALUATE. In practice, however, the process is not so straightforward; you might have to go back and edit your search several times before you have a final working search term. Before settling on a final search phrase, you should test your phrases. If you are not satisfied with the results, revise your search phrases.
This section presents a model for building a systematic search strategy, consisting of eight steps. Go through the pages of this section in order. You can build a search strategy for your own topic based on this model. Also, be sure to write down all the different steps in detail so that you can report on your search process in your final paper.
The steps are:
There may also be overlaps in these sections. For example, you may find new search terms even during the search execution phase.
This section uses an example topic to build a search strategy:
Use a Word file, for example, to keep your search terms and the search phrases you formulate later in the process up to date. A good practice is also to save the search phrases in your own user account in each database.