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Formulating an Effective Search Query

After completing this module you will able to..
1. Analyze a research topic
2. Develop appropriate search strategies and conduct a search
3. Refine search results

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Formulating an Effective Search Query

  1. 1. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 1 Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine For MD-First Part Faculty of Medicine Zagazig University 2021 Course Director Prof. Ahmed Refat Tutorial # 6 How to Develop a Search Strategy: and Search Query An Interactive Tutorial Interactive tutorial is a structured collection of navigable web pages. Individual pages can contain any combination of text, images, audio, video, self test questions and other interactive activities. Learning outcomes After completing this module you will able to.. 1. Analyze a research topic 2. Develop appropriate search strategies and conduct a search 3. Refine search results
  2. 2. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 2 How to Develop a Search Strategy and Search Query What Is A Search Strategy? When you design a search strategy you are planning how you will look for information. The more care and thought you put into your search strategy, the more relevant your search results will be. A well designed search strategy:  saves you time in the long run  allows you to search for information in many different places  helps you to find a larger amount of relevant information Different strategies work better for different people. The first step is to think about what you need to answer your question. You should think about: 1. Finding The Focus Of Your Question 2. What The Key Concepts or key words Are 3. Alternative Terms To Describe These Concepts 4. Combine the concepts using Boolean operators. 5. Building On What You've Found When you need to find information, you should take time to plan your search and develop a strategy. The SKILL Planning Strategy, outlined below will assist you to do this.
  3. 3. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 3 The S.K.I.L.L Planning Strategy When you need to find information, you should take time to plan your search and develop a strategy. The SKILL Planning Strategy, outlined below will assist you to do this. Follow the SKILL Planning Strategy to plan your search: Step 1 - Summarise your topic in one or two sentences; Step 2 - Keywords and phrases need to be highlighted; Step 3 - Identify synonyms, alternate terms, phrases and variant spelling; Step 4 - Link your keywords and phrases; Step 5 - Locate your information. STEP 1 - Summarise Your Topic What specific information do you need? Think about what specific information you need. It is helpful, at this stage to summarise your research topic in one or two sentences. For example, instead of saying you want to do an assignment or paper on “genetics” or “the gold rushes” or “eating disorders”, which are very broad topics, you could state your specific information need as: o 'I am interested in the scientific and ethical issues of reproduction research, specifically those related to human cloning' or o 'I want to investigate the effect of the gold rushes on agriculture during the 1850s and 1860s.' or o 'I want to find information about urban planning for sustainable environments.'
  4. 4. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 4 Questions to assist you with your summary: Answers to the following questions will assist you to formulate your research summary:  What is the main idea of my research topic?  What specific ideas am I trying to describe or prove?  What coverage am I interested in: international or a specific geographical region?  What types of information am I interested in, eg. statistics, patents, journal articles or conference proceedings?  What is the currency of the information I require: the last 5 years or further back to the last 20 years or more. When you have summarised your research topic, record it on the SKILL Search Strategy Planner included at the end of this UseIt. For example: STEP 1 - Summarise your topic below I want to find information about urban planning and sustainable environments. STEP 2 - Keywords and Phrases should be Highlighted Identify and highlight the main keywords and phrases in your summary. This will break down your sentences into keywords and phrases (or ideas). When you have identified your keywords and phrases, record them on your SKILL Search Strategy Planner. For example: I want to find information on urban planning and sustainable environments.
  5. 5. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 5 STEP 2 - Record The keywords and phrases Phrase urban planning Keyword sustainable Keyword environments STEP 3: Identify Synonyms & Alternate Keywords Create a list of synonyms, alternate keywords and other phrases (don’t forget words with variant spelling ( eg. paediatric or pediatric, encyclopaedia or encyclopedia) that describe the keywords and phrases you have highlighted. These keywords and phrases will form the basic units of your search strategy. As you progress through the search process, your knowledge of the topic will increase and your list of keywords and phrases will grow and/or be refined. Record your results in your SKILL Search Strategy Planner. For example: STEP 3 - Record other synonyms & alternate keywords and phrases Keywords from Step 2 urban planning sustainable environments planning OR town ecolog* habitat* architect* OR regional energy locale build* OR city viable neighbourhood design* STEP 4: Link Keywords & Phrases Using Connectors and Parentheses Combine your keywords and phrases into a search strategy Use the Connectors, OR, AND, NOT and Parentheses ( ) to combine your keywords and phrases into sets and then your sets into a strategy. If you
  6. 6. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 6 find you have too many keywords, use the additional ones to modify your search strategy after your initial search. NOTE: Connectors are sometimes referred to as Operators or Boolean Operators or Boolean Connectors Follow the steps below:  Create sets by combining your synonyms with the OR connector  Enclose each set of synonyms with parentheses ( )  Combine the sets with either the AND or the NOT connector Record your results on your SKILL Search Strategy Planner. For example: o Create sets by combining your synonyms with the OR connector o Enclose each set with parentheses o Check the results for each set and then combine the sets with the AND connector. Set 1 ("urban planning" OR town OR regional OR city ) Set 2 (sustainable OR ecolog* OR energy OR viable) Set 3 (environments OR habitat* OR locale OR neighbourhood) Set 4 (planning OR architect* OR build* OR design) Set 5 Example: Set 1 AND Set 3 Example: Set 1 AND Set 2 Continue with combining sets until you are sure you have covered all keywords and phrases.
  7. 7. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 7 STEP 5: Locate the Information by Conducting the Search How do you enter your search strategy into the database to get the best results? Using the SKILL Search Strategy Planner, you may find that you generate a number of sets of keywords and phrases (similar to Fig 4 above). If this is the case, you may be able to use a building block approach (similar to Fig 4 above) to enter your search strategy into your selected database. How To Improve Your Results? To broaden your search (i.e. increase the amount you find) you can: 1. reduce the number of concepts you are using 2. use an OR search 3. use all possible synonyms for your topic 4. use more general search terms 5. use subject headings as search terms 6. make sure you have used any Boolean operators correctly 7. combine keywords using 'OR' 8. use truncation to get variations on your term, or use alternate spellings To narrow your search (i.e. reduce the amount you find) you can: 1. use an AND or NOT search 2. look for more specific alternative terms 3. use subject headings as search terms 4. make sure you have used any Boolean operators correctly 5. use more precise terms 6. remove any truncation 7. use thesaurus terms 8. limit by particular fields
  8. 8. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 8 Using Parentheses (Nesting) In complex search statements involving the use of more than one Boolean operator it is necessary to use parentheses (i.e. brackets). This is also called nesting. Truncation Keywords may have variant endings - singular, plural and adjectives - all of which may be relevant to your subject. Using the singular form will only retrieve records which have the word in that form. In order not to miss any 'hits' (and to reduce the amount of typing!) use truncation. Type in the start of the word plus the truncation symbol ($ * ? #) depending on which database you are using to retrieve all the variant forms of the word. 'Snowballing' (Moving from specific to general) Once you have identified some, or even one, useful reference it can lead you on to other similar ones. Note the keywords assigned to your reference(s) in the database. Use these to run a new search. Also don't forget to search for other writings by the author, and also follow up on the references your author has used in their bibliography. Stop Words Are Useless Key Terms Common words, prepositions, conjunctions, and common verbs such as "and, about, the, of, in, as, if, and it" are examples of stop words. Do not use stop words. Nouns And Objects Should Be Your Query Terms Keyword types should be nouns since they are the most precise query terms. Adverbs and adjectives can help but should usually be avoided .
  9. 9. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 9 Summary Key points to remember when developing a search strategy: 1. Be specific 2. Whenever possible, use nouns and objects as keywords 3. Use At Least Three Keywords 4. Put most important terms first in your keyword list 5. Combine keywords, whenever possible, into phrases. Re….. Write - Revise – Type Supplementary materials ….. visit these sites Choosing Search Terms https://youtu.be/AXXbBMT0BtY https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/internetbasics/using-search-engines/1/ http://file.lacounty.gov/sdsinter/dhs/204498_basicinternetsearchtechniques.pdf https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/internetbasics/using-search-engines/1/ https://libguides.wits.ac.za/Scholarly_Research_Resources/Research_Search_Engines https://subjectguides.esc.edu/researchskillstutorial
  10. 10. Application of Internet and Computer in Medicine (MD-First Part ) Course Director Prof. A Refat 10 Quizzes 1. How should you narrow a topic that is too broad? (Check all that apply.) A. Look at a certain aspect of it B. Look at where it overlaps with other topics C. Look at it within a certain time period 2. If you are doing research using the keywords "death penalty and budget," which terms would also be worthwhile keywords: A. torture and cash B. capital punishment and revenue C. incarceration and finance D. Leave this Field Empty 3. If you use the word "AND" in your search terms it means the following: A. Only the words after "AND" will be searched. B. The terms before and after the word "AND" will be searched by the database. C. Either the terms before the word "AND" or after the word will be searched by the database. 4. What do "quotation marks" ask a database or search engine to do? A. Nothing. Quotation marks have no bearing on a search. B. Look for the exact phrase within the quotation marks C. Exclude the terms within the quotation marks 5. What is a good way to get additional resources from a really good article that you already found? A. Do another keyword search, but capitalize the first letter in each word B. Search for the same article in a different database C. Use the citations that are referenced within the article to find similar articles by looking up the references

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