Search Strategies

Strategic Exploration: The BEAM Research Method

Research is a journey of discovery and exploration based upon inquiry. Your research question provides the starting point. The purpose of your research defines your information needs. Your information needs guide your search for sources. You will use different kinds of information sources for different purposes. As you know, you will encounter a wide variety of information sources during your search.

The sources you select will be used in your research for various purposes:

  • Provide background and context.
  • Present supporting evidence.
  • Acknowledge dissenting evidence.
  • Persuade your audience that your conclusions are sound.

Think of searching for information sources as a strategic exploration. You will be more effective and efficient in searching for and sorting through information sources if you have some strategies in place ahead of time.

One such strategy is to use the BEAM Research Model developed at Columbia University by Joseph Bizup. The BEAM Research Model addresses what you can do with sources after you find them, which is a good thing to think about before you start searching for them!

Watch the video, Using your sources: The BEAM model . It describes the background, exhibit, argument, and method of the BEAM model.

How might you use the BEAM Research Model in your own research? It depends on the purpose and scope of your research, but as you evaluate each source, ask yourself what purpose the source might serve – how might you use the source to establish the validity of your research. (20)

Search Strategies

Once you’ve created your research question, considered different source types and how you might use them, it’s time to start searching!

In order for a search tool to give you information that serves your specific need, you must provide the right words: keywords . A keyword describes an essential characteristic of the document or page you want to find. Stringing several keywords together results in a search string, or query.

In this module you will learn how to construct a search strategy in order to use search tools more efficiently.

Search Strategies: What’s the Plan?

Have you ever started searching for information, only to get overwhelmed and settle for the first few results you get? Without a strategy plan, it’s easy to get buried by the huge amount of information available!

Should I get the flu shot this year?

How much does it cost?

What keywords will help me answer these questions?

I work in a childcare center, am I more likely to get the flu?

Why does it matter how I put words together to learn more?

Are flu rates affected by the number of vaccinated healthcare workers each year?

Should flu shots be mandatory?

How do I identify keywords? (21)