|Office: FLITE 140C|
SCWK 240 Berghoef
Foundations of Practice
Why Develop a Search Strategy?
Before starting a search, it is helpful to clarify what you are looking for by developing a search strategy. Developing a search strategy is a useful practice for several important reasons.
- Helps focus your search
- Gives you something to work with
- Saves you time in the long run
- Helps you find larger amount of relevant information
Buliding a Search Strategy
Think about the focus of your question. Summarize your topic in one or two sentences or questions; try to be as specific as possible.
Example: I want to understand the issues surrounding children of prisoners.
Identify key concepts. Using your summarization, idenitfy the two or three main concepts.
Example: children parents prisoner
Select terms to describe your concepts. Remember to include other words that describe these concepts including synonyms, related wors, plurals, and variant spellings.
Example: children child; parents parent mother mothers father fathers; prisoner prisoners inmate inmates incarceration incarcerated
Combine the terms into a search statement. Connect the terms that are similar with the word OR. OR tells the database that any or all terms must be included. The results will include any, but not necessarily all of these terms. Use paraentheses to group like terms together and to clarify the relationship between terms.
Example: (child*)(parent* or mother* or father*)(prisoner* or inmate* or incarcerat*)
Connect these OR concepts with the word AND between the parantheses.
Example: (child*) and (parent* or mother* or father*) and (prisoner* or inmate* or incarcerat*)
Build on what you've found. The research process is not linear but cyclical. When you find articles that seem relevant, use the subject headings, or descriptors, and citations from those articles to expand your search. This process will help you re-evaluate your ideas and refocus your search if necessary.
What if you absolutely cannot think of other search terms to describe your topic? This website KwMap.net may be useful in helping you come up with other terms. Remember you can always email or call me too!
This power point has more information on developing a search strategy: Getting Started With Research
For more information on the research process, check out this fun tutorial: The Research Process
Reliable information may be found in many types of library materials. Some examples are:
- Books that may be found in the Catalog. If you specifically want online books, please click
To find books related to Social Work consider using the Catalog and performing:
- Encyclopedias and other reference books can also be found in the Catalog, or please see our collection of Online Encyclopedias.
- Articles from Journals, newspapers, newsletters, and more can be found in Databases.
To find articles pertinent to your topic, it is essential to use the appropriate databases that provide access to many citations and full-text articles. You may need to use peer-reviewed articles, as well. Articles from peer-reviewed publications have been read, checked, and reviewed by other academics in the field.
Some of the databases we recommend you try include:
Social Work Abstracts
Social Science Abstracts
Sociology (Sage Full-Text)
Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe
In some databases, locating peer-reviwed articles is as simple as clicking a box that limits your results to only those articles. However, in Social Work Abstracts and Scoial Science Abstracts you will need to take additional steps to ascertain the peer-review status of the journal. Ulrich's Periodicals Directory is one one the bet ways to determine a journal's peer-reviewed status. Tutorials to assist you with this issue include:
How to Find Peer-Reviwed Articles in Social Science Abstracts
How to Use Ulrich's Periodicals Directory
Using Google to Learn If It's Peer-Reviwed
If you are doing research from off-campus, you will need to log-on to use databases licensed by FSU. You can log-on to the databases using your MyFSU username and password. Click here for more information on off-campus database access.
NASW Research Page
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Priorities Project
In some databases you will see an option for a Text version of the document or a PDF version. In general, the PDF version is preferable as it is most often a scanned version of the original and will therefore contain the graphics. When e-mailing, printing, or saving a group of articles, be sure to select the full-text or PDF option if available.
Some databases contain little full-text, but allow you to link out to Ferris' holdings or the interlibrary loan request form. You will notice the Find it! links following individual citations that will indicate the availability of the article online, in the library, or the need to interlibrary loan the article. Click on the Go button and you will be taken to the online version, library holdings record, or interlibrary loan form to obtain the article you desire. See the example below:
Sample Article Link-Out from the Online Catalog Journals Tab
Plagiarism is the act of presenting another's work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is often unintentional, but it occurs whenever you use someone else's ideas or words without giving them credit. It can be obvious - purchasing a term paper or turning in a project done by someone else. It can be putting other's ideas into your own words. It can be cutting and pasting text from a web site. A simple rule: Do not copy text from Web pages or other sources without identifying and giving credit to the original author.
Here are some ways to avoid plagiarism, taken from PILOT, the FLITE Information Literacy Online Tutorial.
To avoid Plagiarism:
- Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas
- Write down the complete citation information for each item you use
- Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words
- Always credit original authors for their information and ideas
For more information about Plagiarism, please explore the Plagiarism web page provided by the Ferris State University Writing Center. The Writing Center can assist you with "all aspects of the writing process, from preliminary brainstorming and outlining, to revising and polishing final drafts" as well as citation assistance. This help is available in person and through email.
Whenever you are quoting or using information from a source, you must credit or cite that source. Failure to do so is plagiarism which can lead to expulsion from the University.
To learn more about citations, check out this FLITE Citations page.
Print out the FLITE APA Citation Guide and use it to properly format your citations.
Refbase: A database management resource provided by the library. You can create an account and format your citations in a fraction of the time it takes to format citations without this great tool.
Refbase Tutorials: Need help using Refbase? Check out these tutorials that can assist you with Refbase.
Contact: Stacy Anderson / Email / Phone: 231-591-3635 / Office: FLITE 140C
Don't forget, you are welcome to come to the Oval Information Desk and ask for help any time. You can also call us 231-591-3602 or chat with us.
Updated by Stacy Anderson: Feb. 16, 2010. Originally created by Alison Konieczny: Nov. 3, 2008.