Step 2. Refining the Search Strategy

Refining a search involves reflecting upon the sources of information that have been retrieved in a search and determining if they are of a quality and quantity that is sufficient to complete the assignment or need. Refining a search may be necessary if hundreds or perhaps thousands of articles are returned using a keyword search. Refinment is also necessary if a topic requires the most current research articles, such as medical, technology and science topics but only older sources have been found. Val should also consider refining a search if many of the sources that have been returned are biased, for example a research study sponsored by Folgers Coffee that claims numerous health benefits associated with drinking coffee.

When refining a search, it might require trying different databases or a new string of keywords to search in a current database.  This is where having the keyword chart previously mentioned becomes useful.  Refining a search can also involve switching to another access strategy altogether, such as visiting another library, contacting a government agency or group, and borrowing items from another library which is known as interlibrary loan.  Seeking the assistance of a librarian would also be an important step in refining a search strategy and in obtaining an interlibrary loan.



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