The Search Process: Search Log
When you have an assignment or coursework to do, you’ll probably have to go and search information sources for material that will help you with your work. It might be a good idea to organise your searching so that you can note interesting sources and how you found them.
This search log is a tool that aims to help you keep track of, and think about, the searching you do for your assignments and coursework. It aims to help you:
- Think about the process itself
- Keep a record of where you have searched
- Record the search terms - the words & subjects you've used – what worked, & what didn't
- Keep track of the sources you find
- Think about what makes a source useful, and how you might use it in your project
The log consists of four parts:
- Engaging with research – think about what you need to search for - and what you’re finding
- Search log – keep a record of where you searched and what you searched for
- Engaging with search results – think about whether results are useful
- Notes and quotes - add your notes about the source and record any ideas that you want to use
Organising your log from the very beginning
It’s a good idea to have an outline or table ready before you start searching. It’s very easy to lose track of what you find and where you find it, and any ideas you might have had at the time of finding a really good source might be forgotten if your search grows!
Feeling adventurous about your log?
The Search Log has four columns
- Date - note the date of the search
- Source - where you searched
- Search Terms - what keywords you used
- Results - note what you found and anything special about the resuls
If you like organising ideas, or you are good with technology, you could even change the log table to add your own columns. For example, you could add an ‘actions’ or ‘reminders’ column to your log and use codes that you choose to keep track of your searches.
Here is an example of a search log using OneNote (don’t worry. You don’t need to use or learn this). The downloadable Search Log is a Microsoft Word document, but you can do your own on paper, although if you are searching on a PC or device, some sort of table might be the way to go
The codes in the fifth column are optional, of course, and you can use any codes or symbols you like to set reminders, go back to an idea or search point or use the column as a to-do list. There are so many ways to do this, and it’s entirely up to you how you want to organise it.
The point is, a search log is something you need to keep updating or keep track of to help you organise your work, especially if you are searching for assignment or research content.
Download the Search Log
Search Log is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Adapted from UConn Library Reference and Student Success Services' Research Log (available with a CC-BY licence)