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LUT - Information Retrieval Toolkit

What is your topic?

Information retrieval/searching starts with selecting search terms. The search terms describe the information you want to find. There is rarely such a thing as the "correct" or "perfect" search term, as the same concept or topic can be described using different terms. You might not get the best results with your first search, but by trying different search terms, you will discover which terms bring the best result.

The following questions will help you plan your information retrieval/search:  

  • what are the key concepts of your topic?  
  • what is the angle or approach to your topic?
  • what is the larger framework of your topic? 
  • what do you already know about the topic?
  • do you need pictures or images? 

Tip! Write down your search terms so you will remember what ones you have already used in your searches, and to make it easier to repeat the search in a different database.

Key concepts

Start with identifying the key concepts in your assignment. Once you've identified the key concepts, write them down, also write down related terms, concepts and synonyms. Use combinations of these terms for your search. For example if your topic was privacy management in social media services, your search term map could look like this: 

Search example

The topic of the example search is Increasing the well-being among higher education students during remote studies. The search terms for this topic could be:  

higher education students 


university students

higher education 


mental health

psychological wellbeing

physical wellbeing


distance learning

online learning

remote learning