Database searching is NOT like Google! Most do not support natural language searching. You have to be precise in the words that you select.
Developing a good search strategy is important
Answer the following questions:
- what is your assignment?
- what is the main topic?
- who has an interest in that topic?
- what other language might they be using to talk about that topic? do they spell it differently?
- when was it relevant? is it a new idea, or a long standing issue?
- what other factors play into your issue? geography, government, people, etc.
Step 1: Write your topic out in sentence or question form
- Should the government pass laws to make fracking illegal?
Step 2: Break your topic sentence up into main ideas or keywords
- Canada, government, fracking, law
Step 3: Think of synonyms or alternate words to describe each concept
- law- policy, legislation
- fracking- drilling, extraction, hydrofracking or other spelling fraccing, fracing
Tip: Use dictionaries, encyclopedias, or a thesaurus to find alternate words.
Step 4: Add "Boolean operators" (AND, OR) to make a complete search statement
- Use AND to limit or narrow your search to results that mention all of your keywords.
- Use OR to broaden your search to include synonyms (OR terms must be bracketed)
A wildcard is usually represented by a *. This is also called truncation. Sometimes it is represented by a ?
- (fracking OR drilling) AND Canad* AND law
Step 6: Consider Key Phrase searching
Some databases search each word separately. To ensure that your words are evaluated as a key phrase, enclose them in double quotation marks.
- "Hydraulic fracturing" or "natural gas"
Your final search string should be something like this:
- Canad* AND "Hydraulic fracturing" AND (law OR policy)
TIP: Check the About or HELP pages for each database to ensure you are using the correct Boolean operators for that database.
Step 7: Evaluate your results
If you are finding too many or too few results, try these tricks:
To broaden your search (find more):
- Find synonym for each keyword.
- Search for a broader concept ('dog' instead of 'poodle').
- Use wildcards/truncation.
To narrow your search (find fewer):
- Add another concept or idea to your search with AND
- Use more specific words ('poodle' instead of 'dog').
Pick a research-tracking method
- Keep track of what you learn from the sources that you use for your writing assignments.
- The low-tech way to keep track of your research sources is to use 3x5 or 4x6 index cards. Use one card per source consulted.
- Note the source's bibliographic information on the top of the card so you'll have the information ready when you need to cite the source in your bibliography. Make your notes on the remaining space on the card.
An electronic form is another good way of keeping track provided by the following universities:
What is a Literature Review?
- Conducting a Literature Review
- Am I the Only One Struggling to Write a Literature Review? (Sage Research Methods)
What are the Purposes of a Literature Review?
- situate your work in its discipline/area/subfield
- develop an understanding of how knowledge in your discipline/field/area has changed over time
- develop mastery of what's known in your area, and part of the larger discipline that contains it
- compare different conceptual or sub-disciplinary approaches to your topic
- compare and contrast different theoretical schools or leading researchers in your area
- identify methodologies that you might use in your work
Keep Track of your searches
Citation searching: find missing citations, track references and find related articles
- Excellent step-by-step guide for using Web of Science for tracking citations
Tips for effective searching
If you find one relevant article for your research it can lead to other relevant papers by the following:
- using the databases, including Omni, look to find all papers & books published by the author or co-authors
- explore the bibliography in the paper for sources
- using Web of Science or Scopus, look for articles that cite the article you found. Remember, some databases will also list citing articles but those lists are limited to the current database. The Web of Science and Scopus are more comprehensive, with coverage from multiple databases.
- Remember to see if an citing article has itself been cited.
Use reference materials for background information for your topic, or to find good keywords to use when searching databases. These are dictionaries, encyclopedias, guides, bibliographies, indexes, and abstracts.
To find reference materials, use the OMNI Library Search.
Here are few examples:
- The Routledge handbook of global public policy and administration
- Handbook of research on global challenges for improving public services and government operations
- The Palgrave Handbook of Public Administration and Management in Europe
- The Oxford Handbook of Public Management
- Handbook of Public Policy Agenda Setting
- Making Policies Work: First- and Second-order Mechanisms in Policy Design
Start with OMNI Search engine located on the library home page, allows you to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously.
Sage Public Administration Abstracts
Canadian Public Documents Collection
Emerald Management eJournals
Google Scholar For seamless access to the fulltext of articles that are part of the library's collection, take the link from the library page. If you run into difficulty, the instructions for a workaround are on the details page.
Columbia International Affairs Online
CPI-Q (Canadian Periodical Index)
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
EI Engineering Village
World Bank Open Knowledge Repository
IEEE Xplore Digital Library
World Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Abstracts
SAGE Journals Online
NBER Working Paper Series
EIU.com (country information)
Use the Omni tool to find books, government documents, conference proceedings, and journals.
Detailed instructions for using Omni can be found on the library's Omni Help Guide.
Contents of this guide include:
- Cambridge University Press eBooks.
- Canadian Publishers Collection Includes major Canadian University Presses, among them the University of Toronto Press, the UBC Press, Les Presses de l'Université du Québec and McGill-Queen's University Press.
- Columbia International Affairs Online
- Directory of Open Access Books
- eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)
- Ebook Central (previously ebrary® e-books) Fulltext of books from academic publishers, as well as books and reports from Canadian research institutes, government agencies and university centres.
- Google Books
- IMF eLibrary
- OAPEN Library
- OECD iLibrary
- Oxford Scholarship Online: ebook collections from Oxford University Press covering Economics & Finance, Business & Management, and Political Science.
- Safari Book Online provides over 9,800 technology, digital media and business books and videos online.
- Scholars Portal Books Fulltext available for books from the following publishers: Springer, Oxford University Press, American Psychological Association, Cambridge University Press, Canadian presses and government and non-governmental organizations
- Springer eBooks
- UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004
- Wiley Online Library
- World Bank e-Library
See a full list of ebook collections.
Find theses and dissertations in our databases, starting with:
- CURVE: for Carleton theses and dissertations
- Dissertations and Theses Global Covers all the same theses from the former Dissertations & Theses Full Text (full-text of North American theses) and Dissertations & Theses: UK and Ireland (selected full-text, others may be found in the EThOS database listed below) plus it now adds more international coverage of some European and Chinese theses.
- EThOS The UK’s national thesis service, provides a record of all doctoral dissertations with a growing number of them in full-text
- Theses Canada / Thèses Canada
- Foreign Doctoral Dissertations
- ABES: thèses Links to various sites that may have fulltext of theses from France.
- Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) Links to other projects that are ongoing in digitizing dissertations. Can see links by country
View the full list of our theses and dissertations databases.
What is cited reference searching?
A simple and useful way of finding additional resources on your topic is to track citations backwards and forwards.
- Find a useful paper, check the reference list (these papers will have been published BEFORE your paper), AND
- Find a useful article and check who has cited it (these papers will have been published AFTER your paper).
Cited reference searching, or citation analysis, also called citation tracking, is a way of measuring the relative importance or impact or an author, article, or publication, by counting the number of times that author, article, or publication has been cited by other works.
There are a number of tools available; however, no single database covers all works that cite other works. Searching across several databases is necessary to ensure complete coverage.
Why is this important?
- keeping track of how many times and where a publication is begin cited can help you gage the impact that article has in your discipline
- if the article has been cited, the database will provide a link to the citing article/author
- to locate current research based on earlier research
- to find out how a particular research topic is being used to support other research
- to track the history of a research idea
- to track the research history of a researcher
Use our main search tool, OMNI to do cited reference searching. Click on these icons to either "find sources cited in this" OR "find sources citing this".
Use our Cited Reference Searching page to find out which of the big databases allow you to do this and how to do this.
A few other databases allow for this as well:
Web of Science
Select Cited Reference Search from top tool bar.
You have the article
Dyke L.S., Murphy S.A., How we define success: A qualitative study of what matters most to women and men (2006) Sex Roles, 55 (5-6) , pp. 357-371.
Enter one author in cited author box
Dyke L* (use surname, first initial and truncation symbol)
Retrieve abbreviation of journal name from list provided, and enter year of publication. SEX ROLES 2006
Deselect disciplines not relevant from listing under Citation Databases
From the list, select the article and click on Finish Search at the top of the list.
Results show the article has been cited 45 times - the most recent in 2017.
Note the option Create Citation Alert to be notified of any future citings of this article.
Choose Author Seach from top tool bar.
Enter author's name and affiliation if known
Select displayed result. On right hand side all published articles by the author will be listed. Click on article for citing references.
Remember to see if an citing article has itself been cited.
SAGE Research Methods supports beginning and advanced researchers throughout a research project, from writing a research question, choosing a method, gathering and analyzing data, to writing up and publishing the findings.
NVivo is just one of many software packages available that can help you with qualitative data analysis. Keep track of all data associated with your project, code your data, create models to help organize your research, run queries on your coded data, create charts and reports for sharing with others. You can attend the NVivo Workshops to learn more about how NVivo works.
What is it?
Citation analysis is the study of the impact and assumed quality of an article, an author, or an institution based on the number of times works and/or authors have been cited by others.
Why use it?
- To find out how much impact a particular article has had by showing which authors based some work upon it or cited it as an example within their own papers.
- To find out more about a field or topic; i.e. by reading the papers that cite a seminal work in that area.
- To determine how much impact a particular author has had by looking at the number of times his/her work has been cited by others.
There are a number of tools and databases features that will help you critically evaluate the resources you use to do your literature searches.
The following databases have a cited by feature. This metric will allow you to see the most frequently cited papers (i.e. compare articles).
Scopus (see Tutorial on Cited reference searches under the Tutorials link)
Web of Science
Google Scholar Citation (for an explanation Google Scholar Metrics go to http://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/metrics.html )
The following tools provide citation data to compare and evaluate scholarly journals.
Journal Citation Reports
Scopus (use the Analytics link)
- Writing for Publication
- Writing for Scholarly Journals
- Open Access Publishing This video gives an overview of open access publishing – what it is and how it works – and outlines the open access requirements created by the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications.
- Curve An open access repository which holds academic research output and creative work voluntarily deposited by Carleton faculty, staff and students, as well as all dissertations and theses produced at Carleton
- Open Access Support - including funding opportunties.
- Directory of Open Access Journals A multidisciplinary database of 5125 open access journals. Currently 2117 journals are searchable at the article level.