Search strategies

Distinguish between a search and a search strategy

Searches and search strategies are related concepts used for information retrieval and research. 

  • A search is the general process of seeking out information. Examples include: 
    • searching a topic on Google
    • searching through books in a library
    • searching articles in a database.
  • A search strategy is a planned and systematic approach for conducting a search. It involves designing a method that maximises your chances of finding the most relevant and accurate information for your research topic or question. 

Create a search strategy  


  • Search terms (keywords, phrases and synonyms) 
  • Boolean operators (AND, OR and NOT) 
  • Filters (dates, language, publication type, etc.)
  • Truncation
  • Wildcards and proximity searching, 


  1. Define the scope of the search.
  2. Select appropriate search terms or keywords
  3. Determine the most suitable search engines, databases or other repositories.
  4. Run a search.
  5. Refine your search results.
  6. Critically assess the information you find.

During this process you might need to modify your strategy to retrieve the most relevant results. Review your results and adjust your search strategy as needed. You can document this process using a research plan form.

  • Contact

    We're here to help, online or in person.

    Contact us