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Pathobiology & Veterinary Science Subject Guide — Searching Scholarly Databases

Sample guide

Database Searching Techniques

Although you can find article citations in a database easily, finding useful and relevent articles is often difficult. Several search strategies will be useful.

Boolean logic uses and / or / not  to combine words or terms. 

Examples:    

bacteria or microorganisms          includes either term

microscopy and bioassay              includes both terms

turtles not migratory                        includes first term but not second term

 

Truncation symbol, usually the asterisk *; offers variant endings on words. 

Example: hypothe* retrieves hypothesis, hypotheses, hypothetical, etc.

 

Wildcard symbol, usually the question mark ?, replaces a letter or letters in the middle of a word or one letter at the end of a word. Not all databases allow wildcards.

Example:  

genetic? Retrieves genetic or genetics

colo?rful Retrieves colorful or colourful

 

Phrase searching, to keep words together as a phrase, you usually use the quote marks around the phrase "words together"

Example:  "global warming"

 

Author Name - the same author may publish under versions of a name over a lifetime. Search for different combinations of the name OR with unusual last names try searching for last name, first initial with an asterisk, as in Buffo J*

Examples: 

Silander, John A.

Silander John Augustus

Silander J.A.

Silander J.

 

Proximity Searching  - linking words or phrases by their proximity to each other is a powerful search tool. Specify the number of extra words which can exist between the searched terms. Exact formatting differs between databases. To search for the word seasonal within 4 words of the word migration, here is the formatting for several popular databases:

Biosis and Zoological Record:  seasonal near/4 migration

Earth Atmospheric & Aquatic:  seasonal N/4 migration

Scopus:  seasonal W/4 migration

CAB:  seasonal N4 migration

PubMed: does not allow proximity searching

Agricola  seasonal N4 migration

Scholarly Articles

Features of scholarly articles:

  • Written for experts, not a general audience
  • Published in academic journals
  • Judged by fellow experts in the field through a process called “peer-review”

A peer-reviewed article has been reviewed by experts in the field before publication, to ensure that it meets the standards of the field.

Be aware: an item published in an academic journal will not always be peer-reviewed. Some Academic journals also publish items such as editorials or a note from the editor.

Find Review Articles