Writing: Create a Plan


  • Review your assignment to make sure you know its parameters.
  • You may want to take notes or highlight portions of the instructions, such as page length and number of sources required, to make sure you choose a topic that will work well.

Creating a Search

Search Strategy & Tips

Sample search statement:
(bully* or cyberbully*) and prevent*

Find more (broaden your results) with OR and wildcards:
drug abuse or drug addiction
anorexia or anorexic

Find less (narrow your results) with AND:
bipolar disorder and drug therapy

Find less with NOT:
attention span not adhd

Find less by selecting limiters (peer-reviewed, scholarly or refereed journals; date; document type; language; etc.).

Narrow results by searching for terms in a specific field (abstract, title, subject). Subject terms can vary from database to database. Using them usually improves relevance so look for them in results displays and detailed records.

Some databases allow quotation marks for an "exact phrase".

If you're not finding enough, try expanding some terms to the all text or full text field, if provided. If that doesn't help, simplify your search, and remove less critical keywords, search terms, or limiters. Try another database or OneSearch.

Terms to Know

Peer Review: A process in which experts in the author's field assess the accuracy and validity of an article prior to publication.

Scholarly: An article can be scholarly in nature ("...relating to serious academic study," The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd ed., p. 1516) without going through the peer-review process.

Article: An article is a piece of writing included with others in a periodical (a continuing publication like a newspaper or magazine). The academic articles found in scholarly journals are written by authors with expert knowledge who use references to support their discussion. These articles are typically longer and include more elevated language than is found in popular magazines.

Journal: A journal typically is an academic periodical that includes articles on research-worthy subjects. Journals typically focus on one specific subject area or field of study.

Database: Databases are searchable programs that contain many articles from many journals. Databases allow users to look in one place for academic material, using searches to filter and refine results.

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