Skip to Main Content

Essay Writing and Research: Search Tips

Tips and Tricks

  • Document every step of the process:

    • Note the keywords that were used and the databases that were searched. 
    • Should you need to repeat your search, you will be able to do so quickly and easily.
  • Start with a broad search:

    • It's easy to narrow down your list of results once you have consulted the type of information you are retrieving. 
    • Limits to use include: date of publication, language, document type.
  • Manage your search results:

    • When you find a document that interests you, save the PDF version
    • You can then read the document when you have the time to do so.
  • Know what is required for the successful completion of the assignment:

    • Make sure you have a firm grasp of the assignment's requirements and the type of information you need to retrieve.
    • Assignment instructions will inform your research plan.
  • Plan to succeed:

    • Make a plan of attack to complete your research. 
    • Identify key databases and set timelines for information retrieval. 
    • You want to have most of your documents before beginning the writing process.


Don't forget that the documents you retrieve are solely based on the keywords you input into  search box.

Search strategy worksheet

This worksheet can be used to prepare for your search and to document your search process.

Search Strategy: Combining your ideas together

Search Strategy: Synonyms and related terms

You can also view this video on YouTube