16 Strategy #2: Examine your Results

In the previous section we looked at search results using the library’s Summon search tool and found a range of items coming from scholarly journal articles, books and ebooks, newspapers, and more.

If you were to examine just a few of the top results, you would quickly see related and more specific terms that might help in subsequent searches. For example, vaccine exemption and vaccine hesitancy provide slightly different perspectives on the topic and correspond to different disciplinary approaches. Articles about vaccine exemption would examine the issue from a legal perspective (an individual’s right vs. population health). Articles about vaccine hesitancy might examine the issue from a philosophical or psychological perspective (opinions, trust in government, or misinformation). Similarly, you might find additional synonyms or alternate terms (immunization, herd immunity) that will help make your searches more complete.

As a researcher, asking yourself how these narrower and alternate terms relate to what you want to find out will be an important part of your search strategy.


Tip: Results Ranked by Relevance

Summon and most of the library’s databases will return search results ranked in order of relevance. After performing a search, always examine closely the top few items for more precise search terms, synonyms, or other related pieces that you might add to the next search.


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Doing Research Copyright © 2020 by Celia Brinkerhoff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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