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

Summer 2019: M. Kulp

Crafting a Savvy Search Strategy (UCLA Library video)

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

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

EXAMPLE: Artemisinin, malaria, role, effectiveness

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.

wormwood-plant  Artemisia-annua 


Tu YouYou


role or use
combination drugs
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) 

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