Topic 2: Searching Strategies for Digital Resources

Planning is essential before deciding which digital resources to use. Firstly, you need to consider your institution’s technological and organizational structures, including the tools, policies, and support it provides. Working with the software that your institution makes available is easier because you will have probable technical support and will be less likely to suggest software that your students will have difficulty using (Ko & Rossen, 2017, p.23). 

Searching through generic and dedicated engines. The use of generic search engines such as Google, can be helpful for finding specific OER. You can also use dedicated OER search engines, such as CC search, OER Commons, and Merlot. The searching options can get customized based on your needs (e.g., type of content, date, etc.).

Searching tricks:

  • Use operators, such as “OER +” and “OER &” to include two or more terms.
  • Use the minus sign to eliminate results containing certain words, such as “OER -”.
  • Use an asterisk within quotes to specify unknown or variable words, such as “OER is *”: This is helpful if you are searching, for instance, for a specific definition, but you could not make out the entire phrase (e.g., “OER is a public resources that *”).
  • Use quotes to search for an exact phrase, such as “OER is defined”: Searching a phrase in quotes will provide only pages with the same words in the same order as the way it is written in the quotes. This trick is important especially you are trying to find results containing a specific a phrase.

Using specific OER repositories. Be familiar with the online OER repositories and have access to them to find the needed content. MIT OCW, OpenStax are a few examples.

(Huang et al., 2020a; Huang et al., 2020b).

Below is a video that explains how to search for Open Educational Resources.

It is also possible to find course-related information online using the following strategies:

Specify your search terms.

Identify possible ways of expressing the concepts that you are looking for. When searching, pay attention to alternative terms and phrases in relevant abstracts or articles.

Searching with truncation and wildcards

Punctuation is useful for identifying singular and plural forms of words. In most databases, a truncation symbol is displayed as an asterisk (*). If you search for “therap*” will find therapy, therapies, or therapists.

Wildcards can be used to find variant spellings. To determine which symbol to use as a wildcard, consult the database help section.

Combining search terms using Boolean logic

It is possible to combine search terms or subject headings in different ways by using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT).

OR lets you search for articles that discuss either of your search topics.

Using the AND operator, you can search for articles mentioning both topics.

Use NOT operator to exclude a search term or concept.

Citation searching

An article that has been cited in another publication is found through Citation Searching. In this way, you will be able to locate more recent papers discussing the same or similar topics.

There are several databases where you can search for cited references, including OvidSP, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus.

University of Leeds,