This is not a complete list

Other Platforms/Search Tools

If the Carleton library doesn't have it...

Library Search

  • Omni is the library search engine.
  • It searches journal articles, books, ebooks, journal titles, games, music, videos, government information, and maps in the library.
  • You can limit your search results to books by selecting Books/eBooks from the left hand menu.


Choosing search terms

  • Choose nouns as search terms rather than verbs.
  • Avoid using a whole sentence, instead select the main ideas from your research question
    • For the research question What is the impact of hydroelectricity on rivers
    • Search for hydroelectricity and river


  • Use synonyms to search for an item/phenomenon. 
    • For example: climate change can be synonymus with global warming

Controlled vocabulary

  • Some databases have a list of terms used to index articles in a consistent manner.  These terms can be used to search for relevant material.
  • This list may be referred to as:
    • Thesaurus
    • Subject Headings
    • Taxonomy

Search techniques

  • Quotation marks ("") - use to search for a phrase.
    • For example: "climate change"
  • Asterix (*) - use to find words with the same root. 
    • For example: fish* will find fish, fishes, fishing, etc.
  • AND and OR
    • use AND to combine search terms, both of which you want to find in an article.
    • use OR to combine synonyms, either of which you want to find in an article. Use brackets to group the synonyms. 
      • For example: ("climate change" OR "global warming")


  • Use database filters to narrow down and focus the results you find. 
    • For example:
      • Category or Topic
      • Document Type
      • Date
      • Search within

Discover new search terms

  • As you read through a list of search results, take note of any new terms that are relevant to your topic.  Search using these new terms.

Author Search

  • In the life sciences the last author is usually the senior researcher.  They will often have an other publications on similar topics.

Tracking citations

  • Web of Science and Scopus can be used to track citations
    • References - look at the references a relevant article used (looking backward)
    • Citing - look at the articles that cite relevant articles (looking forward)

Review articles

  • Use a recent review article to get an overview of a topic and use the bibliography to find relevant research.

Citation Styles

Citation Management Tools

Writing in the Life Sciences

Critically Reading an Article

Grey literature is defined as "information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing" ie. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body." — ICGL Luxembourg definition, 1997. Expanded in New York, 2004

Types of Grey Literature

Search Engines and Databases

Data and Statistics

Content last reviewed: November 14, 2019