Finding relevant reference materials for one’s study, research, publications or other forms of academic activities is an everyday challenge for all academicians. Today the worldwide web allows us to access the world which is no more limited to one’s institute’s library. Here are some easy tips on how to search for relevant content.
Keywords: any web-based searched hinges on keywords and tags. It is very important to use the proper keywords for one’s search. Generic overall terms for search often fail to do justice. One must be aware of the latest terminologies, acronyms as keywords.
One needs to understand search algorithms to better use keywords. Many search algorithms are additive; you can use keyword1 AND keyword2 (often used as keyword1 + keyword2) to suggest you are looking for articles that have both of the keywords. For instance, using an author’s name AND a topic of interest suggests you are looking for articles by the specific author on the specific topic and will yield more narrowed or focused options. Using a series of keywords separated by commas often means you are looking for articles that have either of those terms or a combination of these terms.
Database: intrinsically linked to using keywords is understanding the database in which you are searching. Different institutions, libraries, or journals have a dedicated database section where they show the relevant tags or sections according to which their contents are stored. Understanding the referencing mechanism of any database is important to effectively search those databases. For instance, some databases may use the author’s name as the top line tag while others may use the field of study as a top line. Searching via keywords in these cases work best when you use the topline as the first keyword and then use the other terms to dive deep into these top-line categories.
Some of the most common digital repositories or websites for scholarly articles in the field of science are:
PubMed: PubMed is a free search engine accessing primarily the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. The United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health maintains the database as part of the Entrez system of information retrieval.
ScienceDirect: ScienceDirect is a website that provides subscription-based access to a large database of scientific and medical research. It hosts over 12 million pieces of content from 3,500 academic journals and 34,000 e-books.
Web Of Science: Web Of Science is a website that provides subscription-based access to multiple databases that provide comprehensive citation data for many different academic disciplines. It was originally produced by the Institute for Scientific Information and is currently maintained by Clarivate Analytics.
While some of these resources are free to access, many are subscription-based. However, these websites offer the best peer-reviewed articles from the top most journals and hence the subscription is worth the money. However, in many cases the institutions take subscriptions, and hence an individual does not need to. Do check with the library of your institution on how to access these databases.