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Speech Pathology: Plan your Search

A study guide for students studying Speech Pathology

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


What is the clinical effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for stuttering in children?

The key concepts are: 

non-pharmacological interventions stuttering children 

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. 


non-pharmacological interventions stuttering children

cognitive–behavioural therapy


speech therapy


childhood-onset fluency disorder

speech disorders







lightening bolt


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.

Phrase Searching should also be used when you are searching for an exact phrase or you have a keyword that is more than one word (for example, "speech therapy").

To do this, simply put the phrase inside quotation marks for example, "speech therapy".

When you don't use quotation marks, the database may split your words apart, so you end up getting lots of irrelevant results.


Use OR to combine synonyms & similar words:

Key Concept Keywords & Synonyms Search


childhood-onset fluency disorder

speech disorders

(stuttering OR stammering

OR "childhood-onset fluency disorder"

OR "speech disorders")

Use AND to combine your key concepts together: 

("non-pharmacological interventions" OR "Cognitive behavioral therapy" OR CBT OR "speech therapy") AND (stuttering OR stammering OR "childhood-onset fluency disorder" OR "speech disorders")  AND (children OR child OR kid OR adolescent)

Step 4: Start Searching


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. 

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.