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Food is My Medicine SSEP: Search Strategies & Tips

Summer 2019: M. Kulp

Another Tip

Mind Mapping Worksheet

Search Tips

Whether you are searching for scholarly or popular articles in a library database, it pays to be organized as you start your search. Break down searching into a three step process.

Write down as much information about your topic as possible. (You can use encyclopedias and other reference books to help gather background information). Answer the following questions:

  • What is your topic?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What do you know? What don't you know?

Then, try to summarize what you are looking for in one or two sentences.

EXAMPLE: Can fermented foods improve health?


Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.

EXAMPLE: fermented food, health

Now create a list of synonyms of your key concepts. Think broadly, think narrowly! This step is helping you expand your search by expressing your query in a variety of ways. If you get too many results, then you can work on focusing your search.

"fermented food*"            







"heart disease"               



*=Wildcard; can be used to search for variations

Ex.  food* will search
food or foods and other variations

You will use the word lists you developed in Step 3 to create search strategies. Use "OR" between synonyms and "AND" between concepts. For instance:

"fermented food*" AND (health) AND ("heart disease OR diabetes) 

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