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Finding Information: The Search Process

Search is Iterative

Your assignment is due next week; you’ve spent the last hour Googling keywords and all you’ve found is a Wikipedia page, you’ve tried the library catalogue but none of the results are even relevant. You’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and you’re ready to give up.

Feel familiar? This is a normal part of the search process. 

The search process is iterative; this means it involves constructive repetition. Searching is a continuous cycle, during which you will formulate, test, evaluate and reformulate your search plan several times.  

Generally, we begin searching with an ill-formed topic, question, or idea. Because of this, preliminary searches don’t often yield results we can use in our final assignment. While these searches feel like dead ends, they’re important to help us expand our knowledge of the topic and identify points of interest. This helps us to ask more specific questions, develop better keywords, and formulate more productive searches. And the better our search, the better the information we uncover.

The downside? An iterative search process can often take more time than we expect. Struggling to stay organised? We recommend looking at our Managing Your Studies guide for some helpful tips and tricks.

Interact with the hotspots below to find out more.