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* at end of root words: (gives you predat* predator, predators, predation) Use
quotes around a phrase if words must be together: "global warming"
Results too narrow?
Don't use so many terms. Keep it simple and broad to start. Less is more.
Don't use words like "
aspects", " effects", " influence". These are ideas that are assumed in a paper and may not be used in the abstract. Instead use the word for the effect itself. Use just the genus name if the genus/species yields little.
Use both common and scientific names:
MAPLE or ACER Use truncation:
conserv* will yield conserve, conservation, conserving Look for related terms in your results to expand your topic.
Results too broad?
Add terms one at a time for additional aspects.
Use quotes (usually) around words in a phrase
Choose your keyword(s) to appear specifically in the
TITLE field. The article will be more relevant. Limit to ENGLISH
Limit to selected subject areas if available (
Scopus) Limit to REVIEW articles to get an overview
Search more effectively
Keep your search simple
Search the most obvious, broad term first; see what you get. You can narrow your results from there.
Don't complicate your search. 1-2 terms may suffice.
If you need to retrieve more information, then expand the number of terms you use (see next step).
Search on key concepts (using synonyms if necessary) one at a time
Define your topic into 1-3 key concepts and search each separately.
Example: Effect of forest fires on animals. Chart terms relating to each concept:
blaze, blazes, blazing
Use AND, OR, NOT accurately:
OR combines related terms of one concept, (FIRE* OR BLAZ* OR BURN*) -
any one of those terms can be present in the result set AND combines different concepts together -
both conditions must exist in your result set Search using wildcards:
Search Concept 1
OR BLAZ* OR BURN*
Search Concept 2
OR MAMMAL* OR BIRD*
Combine both concepts
AND # 2
Results in Set #3 are articles relating to BOTH the concepts of
fire AND animals
» "Drought, fires, and large mammals"
Build your sets of concepts, then combine them as needed
You may choose to search additional terms or concepts to refine your results
Use NOT to eliminate an aspect of no interest
Search a third concept
grassland* or prairie*
Omit 3rd concept from previous results
Your results will encompass the idea of fire AND animals, but NOT involving grasslands
The SEARCH HISTORY command shows your previous searches. You can return to them, or combine them in different combinations as you refine your search.
Don't waste time getting nowhere. After 10-15 min., ask an SRS librarian for help!
Primary literature defined
It is where the
researcher published their findings first (i.e., the primary place the data is found). In science, it's usually a
journal article outlining methodology, data, results, conclusions. It will always have a
Literature Cited section. It is the
researcher's own words, not summarized by anyone else. It is found in scholarly journals such as
Animal Behaviour, Journal of Geology. The article will be
peer-reviewed (refereed by other experts in the field before publication)
Secondary (review) articles
Summarize primary literature articles
Help to get a general overview of a topic
Written by authorities in the field
Often have the word "
review" in the title (books as well as articles)
News articles (e.g., Time, New York Times, Natural History, Smithsonian)
Not primary literature
Might be primary source material for historical purposes however
Help identify current issue or organizations to follow up in other sources
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