Friday, 6 November 2020

Keyword Search

I mentioned in the last post about search operators (here), which I picked up from an Academy of Management virtual conference session, in a presentation section by Ryan Splenda (Petricevic et al, 2020). 

In addition to the operators, however, students also need to be aware of the process of searching, which is what I am going to run through quickly today.

Firstly, we need to undertake what I call a 'fast and dirty' literature review in our field of interest. We use the operators I mentioned last time (here). What Ryan ran through was as follows (Petricevic et al, 2020)

  1. Ballpark articles. By throwing enough time at our initial search, we will find one or two ballpark articles which fit what it is we are looking for. We note what those articles list as keywords, then we use those keywords to make our next searches. Note what searches you have used, and why, as you go, as this starts to form what will later become your literature review method; and/or
  2. Forward-search. Look for articles which have cited your ballpark articles, and see what keywords they have used; and/or
  3. Reference mining (aka 'back-search'). We search the reference list in our ballpark articles backwards, and look for key articles in the bibliography. We look for keywords in those articles, and use those; and/or
  4. Keyword lists. Use a list of keyword terms in our field. For example, in business, we can use Daniel's list of keywords (here, 2016), or the University of Texas (here, 2020); and/or 
  5. Synonym finder. We use a thesaurus to find synonyms for the keywords now have on our list. We can also find antonyms. So, if we our search term is 'workplace well-being', we should also seek 'workplace burnout', and/or 
  6. Spelling/Usage. Ensure that we are using the 'right' spelling, or have the usage correct for the current environment. There are trends in terms: what was once 'personnel' became 'human resources' became 'human capital' became 'people and capability'. Note the variety of terms in our field, and search all as we go; and/or
  7. Definitions. Define the terms we have for our field in encyclopaedias or dictionaries, and look for other alternatives. 

With that list of steps, we should be able to generate a good range of keywords, and start to create a mental map of our field of interest. Please note that we need to note all our searches, our rationale, and our sources, so we can clearly detail our method for the literature review.

I hope this is useful. In a later post, I will explore how to write the literature review method. 



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