Skip to main content

Chemistry of Herbal Medicine (SSEP): Search Strategies & Tips

Summer 2019: M. Kulp

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.

STEP 1
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: I would like to learn about the drug Artemisinin, in particular, its role and effectiveness in fighting malaria.

STEP 2
Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.

EXAMPLE: Artemisinin, malaria, role, effectiveness

STEP 3
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 focussing your search.

Artemisinin
wormwood-plant  Artemisia-annua 

Qinghao-plant 
Qinghaosu

Tu YouYou
 

malaria
Plasmodium                                       
 

role or use
effectiveness
combination drugs
history
manufacture
supply or shortage



*=Wildcard; can be used to search for variations

Ex.  manufactur*

 

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:

(artemisinin) AND (malaria OR plasmodium) 

Another Tip

Mind Mapping Worksheet

Need Help?

Profile Image

Rocco Piccinino

Contact:
Young Science Library
(413) 585-2951
rpiccini@smith.edu


Or use Ask a Librarian! to access help during Reference Desk hours.