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FIN 360: Capital Markets: Create a Search Strategy

This research guide was designed for Laura Gonzalez Alana's Sp2021 FIN 360 Course

Tips for effective searching

Determining what kind of information you need BEFORE you begin searching will help direct your research and guide you to the correct information resource.   

Information Need Information Type Database Options
Background Information Books and Internet Articles (even Wikipedia) OneSearch and Google
Current News Newspaper articles, magazine articles, and trade journal articles Global Newsstream, Business Source Premier, and ABI/INFORM Complete
Opinion and Analysis  Magazine Articles and trade journal articles Business Source Premier and ABI/INFOM Complete
Scholarly Information Scholarly articles Business Source Premier and ABI/INFOM Complete
Industry Trends and Practical Info from Practitioners Trade journal articles  Business Source Premier and ABI/INFOM Complete
Company Information Company Profiles, SEC Filings (e.g. Annual Report, 10-K, 10-q, 8-K) Mergent Online

What are Keywords?

Keywords are the words that you use to conduct a search in a database. Keywords are one of the most important aspects of searching for information in a database. They represent the different concepts or main ideas related to your search. If you only search for one concept, you are likely to get too many search results. You want to identify 2-3 different concepts within your topic to get more precise results. 

example keywords in a business source premier search include gender diversity and senior management, and competitive advantage.

Step 1: Consider the who, what, why, when, where, and within of your topic. 

To get relevant results when you search it's best to generate a few keywords that represent different aspects of your topic. If you only use one keyword you will probably get too many search results. 

  • The what- what’s the issue? (e.g. diversity, telecommuting, employee wellness, etc.)
  • The who-who are the employees or stakeholders you are investigating in your report?- (e.g. senior management, community investors, staff workers, etc.)
  • The why-why is this company hiring you to write this report? (e.g. gain competitive advantage, increase employee retention, improve employee motivation, improve organizational communication etc.)
  • The where­­- where is your company located and is this important to your research? (e.g. rural area, urban area, Los Angeles, nationwide, etc.)
  • The within- within what industry is your company and is this important to your research? (e.g. healthcare, tech, fashion, etc.)

gender diversity is the what, senior management is the who, and competitive advantage is the why

Step 2: Brainstorm synonyms and similar words that serve as alternatives to your original keywords. 

The first keywords that come to your mind when you think of your topic might not be the same keyword that authors or the database have used to describe your topic. You want to brainstorm similar words to include in your search. 

an alternative keyword to gender diversity is gender. an alternative word to senior management is leadership. an alternative keyword to corporate advantage is competitiveness. you can include these keywords in your search.

Step 3: Mix and match your keywords and keep track of what keyword combinations are successful.

Keep track of the keywords you are using and the keyword combinations that generate successful search results. You will find that each database tags articles with a list of "Subject Terms" or "Subjects." These are the words that the database uses to organize information. If you find a subject term that is relevant to your research log it in your keyword chart and try using it in your search. 

1. Use broader search terms 

Narrower Term Broader Term
Gender Diversity Diversity
Senior Management Leadership
Competitive Advantage Competitiveness

2. Connect different expressions of keywords with "OR"

String together specific keywords with broader keywords in the same search box using "or"

1. Use "AND" to connect the different concepts in your topic.

Using AND to connect your keywords means that the database is searching for articles that include ALL of your terms, rather than either/or. The more keywords you have connected with AND, the more narrow your search results will be. 

2. Use Subject Terms

Subject searching uses subject headings that come from a predetermined list of possible terms and reflect the content of the item. Many databases use subject headings that are unique to that particular database. This controlled vocabulary allows for the consistency of terms across the database.  A subject search is more specific than a keyword search: it looks in only one field of each record - the subject field.

subjects or subject terms are listed underneath each article title in the search results. choose the subject terms most relevant to your topic and type them in the search box. change the corresponding dropdown menu to SU Subject Terms.

3. Use Database Filters 

Filter your search results by source type (scholarly articles, trade publications, magazines, etc.), publication date, subject, geography, etc.