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Indigenous Perspectives & Practices: Plan Your Search

This guide will help you find information on how to locate, evaluate, and use Indigenous perspectives to support your studies

Why plan your search?


At university you are expected to find and use scholarly information:

  • in your assignments
  • to prepare for class
  • to explore new theories and ideas

However, to find scholarly information you need to search in a particular way to get good results.

Use this page to learn how to plan your search and find the best scholarly information sources to use. 

Step 1: Identify your key concepts


Before you find any information, identify the main ideas (or key concepts) in your assignment question or research topic

Sample Assignment Task:

Using a strength-based approach, prepare an evaluation plan for an Indigenous-focused school education initiative.

The key concepts are: 

Strength-based approach Evaluation plan Indigenous School education Initiative

Step 2: Brainstorm keywords & synonyms


Different words can be used to describe the same concept.

Think of other words that could be used to describe your key concepts. Synonyms should also be included. 


Strength-based approach Evaluation plan Indigenous School education Initiative


Assessment plan

Analysis plan


First Nations people


School curriculum




Some resources to help with brainstorming: 

  • Google & Wikipedia
  • Dictionaries & Thesauri
  • Reference books & Encyclopedias

Step 3: Build your search


Boolean Operators are a way of telling a database or search engine how to do your search. Watch the video to learn how.

Use Boolean Operators to combine your keywords & synonyms into a search. You can build multiple searches using different synonyms & keywords.


Use OR to combine synonyms & similar words:

Key Concept Keywords & Synonyms Search
Evaluation plan

Assessment plan

Analysis plan

("evaluation plan" OR "assessment plan" OR "analysis plan")

Use AND to combine your key concepts together: 

"strength-based approach"


("evaluation plan" OR "assessment plan" OR "analysis plan")

NOTE: We used inverted commas around "strength-based approach", and many other words, because we want to search for them as phrases. This means databases will only return results that include those words together, not separately. 

Step 4: Run your search


Now that you have a search string, you can paste it into the basic search of most databases, such as the Library catalogue, Google Scholar, or ProQuest.

"strength-based approach" AND ("evaluation plan" OR "assessment plan" OR "analysis plan") AND (Indigenous OR Aboriginal OR "First Nations people") AND ("school education" OR schooling OR "school curriculum") AND (initiative OR action)

Step 5: Review your results


Not all the information you get from a search will be useful. A successful search will show results relevant to your topic. If your results are not relevant go back and try different keywords in your search.

Find relevant results by checking the: 

Even if your information is relevant, it might not be good quality. Check if it passes the C.R.A.P. Test before you use it.

NOTE: An additional layer of evaluation should be applied when searching for Indigenous perspectives. Check if the author/s identifies as an Indigenous person and if not, what kind of collaboration/consultation did they have with Indigenous Peoples.

Finding different types of information


You will need to find different types of information during your studies. These may include: 

  • Books & book chapters
  • Journal articles
  • Newspaper articles
  • Standards & statistics
  • Reports
  • Grey literature

The type of information you are looking for will determine where you search, and how you search. 

Using the steps above will help you find most of these information types, but there are also other places to look.

Explore this study guide or ask a librarian to discover more.