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ITEE thesis coursework: How to search

This guide shows you how to use the Library to find literature for your thesis. It covers searching and citing information.

Search strategy

Plan a strategy before you commence searching.

Develop a robust search strategy to help reduce irrelevant results.

As your searching progresses you will refine your search.

5 steps for searching effectively

1.    Create a focused, clearly defined topic (and sub topics if necessary)
2.    Identify key words and phrases within your topic/s
3.    Think of alternative terms including synonyms and spelling differences 
4.    For more complex searches you can link all the terms using operators such as ANDs & ORs (these are used mostly in database searching)
5.    Run the search in UQ Library search, or an appropriate database and evaluate the results.

‚ÄčToo many results - limit your search by adding more keywords linked by AND
Use more specific keywords, or search specific fields (e.g. keywords in title)
Limit your search by year, article type, peer-reviewed, language etc.

Too few relevant results - include more alternative keywords linked by OR
Look at the subject terms for a relevant item and the links to similar resources


Use quotation marks to keep terms together as a phrase: “natural language processing”

Use the asterisk symbol to truncate a word to retrieve all possible terms: network* = network, networks, networking

Example search

“data visualization” 

Add another term/s to make your search more specific: "data visualization" platforms AND "interactive data exploration"

Add synonyms to ensure you find all relevant results: "data visualization" platforms AND ("interactive data exploration" OR IDE)

OR use the asterisk symbol:

data visuali* platforms AND ("interactive data exploration" OR IDE)

NB Use parentheses around search terms so the terms are searched for in a logical way (similar to solving a maths problem).


Contact your Librarian and make a time to meet, and discuss searching for resources for your research project.

Contact your Librarian

For help with planning your search you can consult the Library guides or speak to your Librarian.

Peer reviewed articles