Conducting a broad search

This resource will describe broad searches and how to conduct one.

What is a broad search?

A broad search is a large-scale, general search across a topic. When you start on an assessment, it is useful to do a broad search for an overview and the different aspects of your topic. It may help you to find new search terms or to rule out sources further down the track.

How do I conduct a broad search?

Start by identifying your search words - these are the words that describe the main topic of the assessment. Use Library SEARCH to find relevant articles and books. Select results that are interesting to you and seem relevant to your topic and read them! Once you have read some resources, you will be better aware of the gaps in your knowledge and you can continue to refine your searches to find additional information to fill in the gaps or support your argument.

Library SEARCH

Google is a common tool for this kind of broad searching, but it often brings up results that are not suitable for use in academic assessments (see information on evaluating sources). Library SEARCH is a Library specific search engine that is like Google for libraries! With one single search box you can search for:

  • academic journals and journal articles
  • biographies, news and newspapers
  • books and eBooks
  • conference materials
  • magazines and trade journals
  • maps and music scores
  • multimedia (audio and video)
  • reports and reviews
  • theses and dissertations

Library SEARCH is a great tool for broad searches when you are just beginning your research, and want to see the breadth of what has been written on your topic.

Try this interactive tutorial to find out how to use it effectively

Further resources