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KINE 4310 Research Methods: Search Strategies

Library resources for KINESIOLOGY 4310

Search Strategies

Example of a database


Building a search strategy starts with an understanding of Boolean logic in the context of querying. The most important aspect to understand is the difference between AND and OR statements.

Joining two words or phrases with an AND statement will make it so that both segments must be in the resource that you're looking for.

Joining two words or phrases with an OR statement will make it so that either segment can be present to pull a result from the query.

For example, the statement "linear maps" AND "modeling" will need both of those statements present for the query to pull the result. An OR statement would be satisfied by either of those phrases.

       Now with an understanding of Boolean statements, we can talk about a search strategy.

Searches are simple processes. By default, a simple keyword search will typically scan potential resource's metadata and full-text for a match. However, a search has no concept of the meaning of your words. This is why a combination of AND and OR statements is the best way to make the query more complex, thus retrieving more accurate results.

I recommend opening a simple .txt file and typing in your initial key-word search.

For an example, let's start with the search phrase "linear algebra mapping comparing the waveforms and energy spectrum of musical instruments playing the same note." 

1) Separate this phrase into multiple smaller phrases and take out the unnecessary words for the search. Your end result should look something like "linear algebra" "linear mapping" "comparing" "waveforms" "energy spectrum" "musical instruments" "same note."

 2) Now that we've separated our phrases, we can begin the part of the search strategy that will make this search a lot more robust, which is to find as much synonyms for each respective phrase as possible. 

3) Finally, take your synonyms and pair them with each phrase respectively using OR statements. Then, match up your OR statements with ANDs. This will result in a query where the results will match up more to the meaning of your words than a simple scan of text and metadata.

Here's what the end-result will look like in your text file (carriage returns unnecessary for logic but good for readability):

"linear algebra OR linear mapping OR linear map OR linear transformation OR linear function" AND
"comparing OR analyzing OR analysis OR differentiate OR examination OR study OR contrast or juxtaposition" AND
"waveforms OR sound wave OR acoustic wave OR sound propagation OR frequency OR wavelength OR resonance" AND
"energy spectrum OR energy spectra OR particle energies OR heterogeneous beam" AND
"musical instruments OR instrument OR instruments OR wind instruments OR brass instruments" AND
"same note OR identical note OR matching note OR identical note"

       Now you're done with the hard part. After you've pasted your text file into the fields and you've submitted your query, you should see more results than is reasonable to sift through entirely. I would recommend using the filters (typically located on the left side of the page as a column) to refine your search even more until you have at-most 100 results. These filters often include (but not always and aren't limited to): full-text availability, peer-reviewed, media type, subject and publication date. In my experience, this is the best way to get a high-density of relevant resources.


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