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Introduction to Power Searching Workshop: 11. Planning Library Searches

Defining and Working Your Topic

Having selected the most approriate indexes in which to search,  prepare a general search plan.

Before executing your search strategies it is essential to develop a general search plan which you can carry through every search approach.

1.  Write out and restate your topic,  considering narrowing or broadening perspectives, to discover major intersecting themes :

For my CRR, I am looking at the impact of hospital leadership on patient quality of care. 

Narrowing Considerations :  Are any of these significant to your search?

Venue: e.g.,  non-profit, elementary school, hospital, corporation, etc.

Age Group: e.g., senior citizens, infants, etc.

Population Characteristic:e.g. ethnicity, race,nationality

Further limit considerations:  Language, Date Span, Document Type, Methodology

2.  Draw a simple Venn Diagram help illustrate your approach:

  • Usually for clarity a Search Plan Venn holds to three intersections, with other concepts reflected as limits.


3.  Create a work-in-progress Synonym chart on each concept of your search

  • Note:  Initially consider all synonyms; then reflect on what is to be included or excluded.
  • Do any of your concepts need to be narrowed or broadened ?
  • How are you concepts reflected in the thesaurus of your bibliographic index?


4.  Execute your search using the fields and syntax of your database.