Planning a Search Strategy – Education & Social Sciences

it’s easy to get frustrated when
searching for articles in library databases because the databases do not work exactly the same way as Google. You have to use different search techniques to find the information you need. This is why it’s a good idea to plan out your search before you start looking for articles. Planning out your search will also save you time. The first thing you need to do is write your research topic as a sentence or question. for example if I’m interested in
researching what student affairs staff to to help college freshman be
successful students I might state my topic as, “Student
affairs practitioners equip freshmen for success in
college.” Or if I post my topic as a question, I might write: How do student affairs practitioners best equip college freshmen for success? You will most likely write several drafts of your question or sentence before you have something you can work with. the next step is to identify the main
concepts or ideas in your question or sentence. My main concepts are student affairs practitioners, college freshman, and success. While it is possible that you may only have two concepts, that would probably be too general to present a good argument for research in the social sciences, and your searches will result in too many resources and will lack focus. After identifying your main concepts, you should come up with alternative terms or keywords. This makes it easier to change your search if you hit a brick wall while looking for articles. These alternative words might be synonyms, similar concepts, words that are more specific or general, or acronyms. research in education and Research in education and other social sciences often uses
acronyms to refer to organizations, laws and legislation, and other concepts expressed in long phrases. Examples include the acronym ELL for English Language Learners, and ESEA which stands for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Be sure you note the acronym and the full name, as you will need to use both when you begin your search. There isn’t a single magic search for your topic. You will need to do several searches using various combinations of your alternative keywords to find all the information you need. For my topic, I came up with these alternative keywords, including academic advisors, counseling, academic achievement, retention, and first-year students. It’s also a good idea to think about which disciplines might have written something on your topic. People from several fields might be
interested in the retention and success a first-year college students. and they will all have unique points of
view that can be helpful to my research. For example, I might want to search
psychology databases and sociology databases in addition to education for this topic. Taking time to plan your search strategy by writing and revising research
questions determining key concepts and alternative
keywords and considering appropriate databases are all steps that will save
you time and improve your searching in the long run

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