Skip to Main Content

Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Resources for the Penn State students and faculty in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences department

Search Strategy Builder

Steps for building your search strategy

  1. Write out your topic in the form of a research question.
  2. Identify the main concepts of your topic
  3. Brainstorm synonyms for each concept
Concepts and keywords
Instructions Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3
Break the research question into concepts and put one concept in each box.

List alternatives for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

Use single words or short phrases.

Find additional terms in abstracts and summaries of the articles, books, and other sources you find during initial searches.

Search terms Search terms Search terms










Search Strategy Builder was originally created by University of Arizona Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Next Steps

  1. Paste the above search statement into the database of your choice
  2. Scan the best items on the results list and look for new subject terms or keywords. Then revise your search using these new terms.
  3. Explore other databases and subject terms (which vary between databases) for more information.

Evaluating Resources

Think critically about web sites and print resources.  

  • AuthorityWho is the author or creator?  What are their credentials for this topic?
  • Content: What is the author's bias? Who was the information written for?
  • CurrencyWhat is the publication date?  When was the website last updated? Does this matter for your topic?
  • ValidityIs the information accurate or valid?  Are there references to other works that support the information?
  • Publisher: Do they have a good reputation?

Citing Your Sources

When using information from another source you must give credit to the original author or you are plagiarizing. You give credit by citing the source. Make sure your citation contains everything you would need to backtrack and find the information again. It is best to pick one citation style and be consistent. 

Citations — Manage Your Personal Library

When working on extensive research projects, you will need to collect, organize and format all those citations!

The following tools are appropriate to use at Penn State. They all allow you to store and search for your references, as well as link with MS Word to easily create in-text citations and bibliographies.