Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENG 1100: English Composition): Research Question>Search Strategy

Going Green Environmental Writing Assignment

Example Research Question

How do non-recycled plastic water bottles endanger our environment?

Moving from a Research Question to a Search Strategy

Topic>Core Concepts> Keywords

1. From your research question or topic identify the core concepts.

  • Plastic Water Bottles
  • Endanger
  • Environment

2. Then identify keywords from your concepts - brainstorm alternative words, use a thesaurus or look in your database search results at words identified in article abstracts.

  • Plastic Water Bottles - plastic bottles, water bottles, portable water containers
  • Endanger - danger, destruction, ruin, destroy, pollution
  • Environment - climate, earth, nature

3. Next plug these keywords together to form a search string.

Search String Components:

  • Use parentheses and OR to nest your search - different ways to get at the same concept e.g  (Environment OR Climate OR Earth), (Danger OR Destroy OR Ruin)

  • Use AND to connect different concepts and thereby return results that include both terms e.g. Water Bottles AND (Environment OR Climate OR Earth) AND (Danger OR Destroy OR Ruin)

  • Use truncation to retrieve variant forms of a word. It is like a wildcard. The * added to the stem of a word will find that stem and anything that comes after it e.g. environ* will return records on environment, environments, environmental. 

  • Use Quotes "  " to retrieve a specific phrase e.g. "Plastic Water Bottles"

4. Finally put your search string into one database search box or use the multiple search boxes with each search box containing a distinct concept.

"Plastic Water Bottles" AND (Environ* OR Climate OR Earth) AND (Danger OR Destroy OR Ruin)

 

Search Strategy Builder

 

Use the template below to help your organize your Search String.