Use more than one database to make sure you're finding the most perspectives on your research question. Databases are often organized by subject (for example, Sport Science or Psychology). Specialized subject databases can help you search more precisely in your field. Find subject databases in your field by clicking FIND link on the University of Idaho Library homepage. Choose Articles & Databases. On the databases page, choose "Databases by Subject" to see a suggested list of databases in your field.
Most of us start a search with key words that we want to explore. Some additional search approaches are to:
Searching in the research databases can be a bit tricky. If you keep a few tips in mind, you will create better search strategies.
Boolean logic or boolean searching (named after George Boole) uses logical words/terms (and or not) to combine words or terms.
Truncation symbols, usually the asterisk * symbol, give you extra searching options for the endings of words.
Wildcard symbols, usually the question mark ? symbol, replaces a letter or letters in the middle of a word.
Phrase searching, to keep words together as a phrase, you usually use the quote marks around the phrase "words together"
Searching by author, sometimes you search by last name, then use ONLY initials; other times you can use lastname, first name. Web of Science uses author lastname, FI MI (last name, first initial middle initial: Wilson, AB)
Want to use Google Scholar to find articles? Go to Scholar Preferences and scroll down to "Library Links". Type "University of Idaho" in the search box, and select both "University of Idaho-U Idaho 360 Link" and "Open WorldCat-Library Search". Scroll down and save changes. This will allow Google Scholar to cross-check some of our subscriptions and give you full-text access with your UI log-in.
Once you have found some relevant or important articles on your topic, one way to expand your search is through citation searching. Citation searching looks for all of the articles or books that have cited your initial paper since it was written. There are two main databases you can use for this kind of search: Web of Science and Google Scholar. Both of these databases cover somewhat different sources, so it can be helpful to try both.
In Web of Science, be sure to use the Cited Reference Search. This is an option under the Basic Search drop-down menu. Then search by the first author's name. Web of Science is picky - enter the last name first and then the first initial(s) without a period.
In Google Scholar, click on the Cited By link to see all of the citing papers.
One way to begin taking notes is to keep track of what you are searching for. Many databases help you do this by allowing you to save searches. Saving searches allows you to watch the development of your search over time and to make sure you are not simply repeating the same (not so great) search over and over. Copy and paste or print out the search page to help think of ways your search could or should change over time.
Many databases (including Google Scholar) let you save search alerts. This can be helpful if you are researching a topic and want to know when new research comes out on the topic without having to go search in the database. Once you set up an alert, it is generated automatically through either email or RSS feed. Go to your database of choice, enter your search terms, then look for an option to create an alert on the search results page. You will be walked through the process of setting up an alert. In most databases, you need an account to save a search alert.