Before you start searching for information, take time to plan your search strategy. This is a crucial stage of the research process as:
When you start out, you may feel overwhelmed by the breadth of information available.
However, by planning your searches in advance and applying effective search techniques, you will find the most relevant content for your needs.
Some materials such as scholarly books and journals go through a rigorous 'peer review' process where they are analysed by experts in the field for reliability and quality. However, it can be more difficult to establish the provenance of other sources of information - for example anyone can create and disseminate information via the web.
Before you start searching, spend some time defining your research topic. Ask yourself, what is it that you want to find out? What search terms or keywords will find this information?
Think carefully about suitable keywords and synonyms (alternative words that have a similar meaning) that will enable you to find manageable amounts of relevant material - not so many results that they are unmanageable and cause information overload, or so few that you retrieve insufficient information for you needs.
Use whatever technique works best for you - e.g. brainstorming, words lists or mind maps etc. can help you think around your topic and identify all possible search concepts and terms.
Using AND between your search terms narrows your search as it instructs the database that all your search terms must appear (in any order).
For example: semiotics AND drama
- will only return results where both words are present
Because all search terms must be present, using AND makes the search more focused.
In some (but not all) databases and search engines the AND is implied so if you enter multiple words the database will search for results which contain all/both words.