A well thought through search strategy will aid you in the process. Start with trying to get a clear image of what it is you're looking for, decide what your problem is and try to have your search question as well defined as possible before you start.
Using a dictionary is a good way to get a quick overview of a subject. It can also be helpful when trying to find search terms and references for further reading.
Before you start, think of the following:
• What are you using the information for?
How much material do you need? When is the paper due?
• What type of material do you need?
Are you looking for an introduction, an overview or very specific material? Do you need articles, books or something else? Does the material need to be scientific?
• Where can you find the material?
The library catalogue or a database? Is there a database of interest for your subject? Is there any authority that may have relevant information? Is there material freely accessible online that you can use?
• How can you find material in these different kinds of sources?
Which search functions, like truncation, thesaurus, filters and so on, are available? How do these work? Which search terms are interesting for you? Do you need general or more specific search terms? Which language do youuse when searching?
The process of information searching is seldom straight or simple, search terms need to be adjusted and re-evaluated along the way. It is a good idea to take notes of your search process to be able to work more strategically and avoid going in circled and doing the same search several times. The task at hand and the time you have allotted decides the extent of the search.
Information searching takes time!
The online course Illern has been created as a part of the services offered by the Net University at Lund University. The main purpose of this course is to create an understanding on how to find different types of information.