Search Strategy

  • Choose an Appropriate Search Strategy

    The student topic will determine the search strategy.  Here's an example.



    Its Characteristics

    Where to look

    Internet surveillance
    in the workplace

    current, influenced by
    technological changes,
    need recent sources

    -recently published books
    -the Web

    Limitations of medications
    for childhood obesity

    both the popular media and scholarly
    journals have covered this

    -specialized encyclopedias
    -specialized database
    -general database
    -the Web

    Theodore Roosevelt's role in
    the evolution of America's system
    of national parks and forests

    has been investigated and debated by
    professional historians

    -locate books
    -locate scholarly articles in
    specialized databases<
    -locate newspaper articles from
    historical sources
    the Web for more primary sources


    Preliminary Reading - Questions to Ask

    After the student decides on a topic of interest the student should undertake some preliminary general reading around the issue.  Questions the student must consider at this stage are:

    • What has already been written about the topic?
    • Was it easy to find sources of information?
    • Is there a range of different sources available?
    • Is there a range of views or perspectives on the topic?
    • What interesting questions have started to emerge from this reading?

    The key point to remember is if the student uses information that is found on the Internet, the student is responsible for ensuring that it is both reliable and accurate. The student can produce an annotated bibliography to explain to the student supervisor about the quality of the sources. An annotated bibliography provides a concise summary of each source and some assessment of its value and relevance.

    Adapted from "The research and writing process; Academic honesty, Using online encyclopedias and other similar information websites", from Extended Essay Guide, International Baccalaureate Organization, 2016.


    Where to search when ...

    "I need to understand the scope of my topic and see related topics."

    • Use the Internet’s search engines and school databases to get an idea of how much material is available for the student use.

    "I need to refine and narrow my topic."

    • Look at the command terms for the student subject area. Be concise and use only words that define the question.

    "I need to choose a controversial issue."

    • Look at the research question and decide if the question is controversial. If it is, do go to PUSD Libraries and look at the databases.  DAZL (Digital Arizona Libraries) and Opposing Viewpoints in Context are excellent resources to use.

    "I need background on possible topics."

    • It helps to find a topic that the student is interested in and would like to find out more about the topic.
    • Remember that the student is just looking to find general information on the topic. General encyclopedia and Internet information, as well as Wikipedia are not good resources to cite for the EE.