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Print this blank Search Planner form and use it to develop a search strategy before using an electronic periodical index or database.

Step 1: State your topic

Write a brief statement or question.

Step 2: Identify concepts and develop terms

Identify major concepts or main ideas of your statement. Many times you will have a combination of two or three major concepts.

For each concept, generate a list of keywords, synonyms, related terms, and descriptors or subject headings.

Combine terminology with Boolean logic. The operator OR groups terms that reflect the same concept; enter like terms within a single row. The operator AND combines concepts; each new concept belongs in its own row.

Concept #1   OR   OR   OR  
Concept #2   OR   OR   OR  
Concept #3   OR   OR   OR  

Step 3: Identify appropriate databases to search for your topic.

Select databases by subject or by type or ask a reference librarian for help.

Step 4: Limit your search to focus or narrow your results.

Examples of limit options:

Date of publication Intended audience Population group studied
Language of publication Publication type Full text in current database

Step 5: Implement your search strategy into your selected databases.

Evaluate your results and modify search strategy as needed.



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