Skip to main content

SHB BIO171: Article Search Tips

Tips for key word searches

An asterisk ( * ) at the stem of a word will find all forms of the word: 
      Example:   educat*= education, educable, educate.
 
Quotes around phrases (“xx yy”) will insure that your keywords are searched as a phrase; rather than individual words. 
      Example:  "Social work," not  social AND work
 
Question marks (?) can be used as wild cards to replace an unknown letter or letters in a keyword. This is helpful with spelling issues. 
      Example:  Einst??n = Einstien or Einstein

How to Find a Peer Reviewed Article

Tips for finding peer-reviewed articles: 

   1.  Most databases will provide an option for limiting your search to peer reviewed articles; if you can't find the limiter, look in the Help section under "limiters" or "peer reviewed."

  2.  Use a specialized database that contains only peer-reviewed articles, such as Biological Abstracts (ISI) or BioOne. 

  3.  Search for articles using the criteria for research articles on the "Finding articles and databases" page.  You can find journals regarding your subject using the Electronic Journals, A to Z link; and searching categories like "Life Sciences"  or "Environmental Sciences." Then select a subcategory of interest and select the red Go button.  You will be presented with a list of journal titles. 

   *Note: Tip # 3 isn't the most efficient way to find peer-reviewed articles, but it is a great way to identify some of the titles in the field for browsing.

                

Search Tips

Database searching in 3 steps: 

Step 1:  Brainstorm keywords (words you use to describe your topic). 

Step 2:  Construct your search: 

  • Choose database(s). 
  • On the search page, type your keywords in the boxes provided.  Remember, you are typing words or word phrases, not questions.
  • You will get more results if you do not select a search field.
  • Select the peer-reviewed limiter to limit your results to peer-reviewed or scholarly articles.

Step 3:  Examine results:

  • Too many results?  Try applying a date limiter or using more narrow keywords to describe your topic.  For example, if you searched "anxiety," try narrower terms like "panic" or "fear."  There may be search terms suggested on the left side of your results page or you can search terms using the THESAURUS or SUBJECT TERM index that is often provided with the database.
  • Not enough results?  Try searching a broader topic; use fewer keywords.  Try new keywords from your brainstorm list or use search terms suggested by the database.
  • Found the perfect article?  First, see if it is offered in full text.  If not, click the "Find It" button to find the article in print or another database or order it through Inter-Library Loan.   Next, don't stop searching!  Look at the "subject terms" or "author supplied" terms to see if those terms match your keywords.  If not, try some searches using those terms.