Researching a paper


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Researching a paper

  1. 1. A few tips to help you get started Researching a Paper
  2. 2. Research techniques and tips • Organization and pre-planning research is key. • Knowing WHAT to search for prior to beginning makes the research process easy.
  3. 3. Preparing to Search - the mass confusion • Choose (or be given) a topic. • Make a list of key words about that topic. • The broader the topic the more results you will get
  4. 4. Example Topic: the use of math in Medical Assisting Medical Assisting Anatomy Physiology Phlebotomy Hematology Urinalysis Microbiology Key words – medical assisting: Math Mathematics Calculate Calculation Formulas Addition Subtraction Key words – math:
  5. 5. Search Engines • Search engine capabilities can be simple • May just look for search words in the title • Or complex • May use summary information or the entire article or page • May use meta data • May use algorithms to “rank” good hits • Most have the capability to retrieve/present more pertinent results • Advanced search mode • Limit terms to fields • Sorting options • Boolean terms
  6. 6. BOOLEAN searching • AND • Use AND to reduce the number of items found: phlebotomy and formula finds fewer items than either phlebotomy by itself or formula by itself. • OR • Use OR to combine synonyms or alternate terms and thus increase the number of items found: hematology or phlebotomy finds more items than either hematology by itself or phlebotomy by itself. • NOT • Use NOT to eliminate some items from the search: hematology not phlebotomy will find items containing hematology but excludes any mentioning phlebotomy
  7. 7. BOOLEAN combinations • BOOLEAN operators can be used together in a single search: • phlebotomy and (formula or calculation) finds only those items that have the term phlebotomy and also contain either the term formula or the term calculation. Note the use of parentheses to group similar concepts.
  8. 8. Searching - Phrases • Most search engines treat strings of words as having an implicit Boolean AND between them • Medical assisting will return results that have both medical and assisting. “After assisting the lady with the cane, the man continued to read a medical journal.” • “medical assisting” finds those items that have both words in that exact order. Note the use of quotes to indicate a phrase.
  9. 9. Truncation (Word Roots) • Use this technique to find variant forms of a single word. Type the first part of the word, followed by an asterisk. • Calculat* finds calculate, calculated, calculates, calculation, calculator, etc. • This technique is generally NOT available in web search engines such as Google. • Check the “HELP” button or tab on the search engine page to find out if this feature is available and which format it uses
  10. 10. Spelling Variations • Don’t forget about British spelling variations • An added “u” as in labour, flavour or colour • “re” for “er” as in centre, fibre or theatre • “s” for “z” as in analyse, recognise or organise • “ae” for “e” in many medical terms such as paediatrics or leukaemia • “oe” for “e” as in oestrogen, oesophagus or manoeuvre • “ence” for “ense” as in licence and defence • “ogue” for “og” as in analogue or dialogue • A search engine may be programmed for specific word variations or it may not!
  11. 11. Wildcard • Use this technique to find words where there are unknown characters or frequent misspellings. • Use a ? where the unknown letter is. • Ne?t will find neat, nest, next (but not net). • Analy?e will find analyze and analyse • The # will look for an alternate spelling. • Colo#r will find color and colour. • Check the “HELP” button or tab on the search engine page to find out if this feature is available and which format it uses
  12. 12. Where to search • Choices depend on what you are searching for and how familiar you are with the topic • Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. may or may not provide good, reliable sources of information • Wikipediea may (or may not) provide a good overview of a topic. The article may have references that may be good follow up sources. Beware! The above might help you identify additional terms to use in your search
  13. 13. Where to search • Online catalogs will help you find non-digital materials • Check to see if a professional site provides access to publications • BMC online library provides access to full length and some synopses of articles, books, transcripts and recordings
  14. 14. Evaluating your Sources Do you have the right source for the job?
  15. 15. Evaluating your Sources • Date of the article, book or website • Also look at the dates in an article’s bibliography • Find out about the author • Is there an author? • Does the article provide any biographical information? • Might the author (or the institution they work for) be biased? • How was the research for the article funded? Journal Articles and Books
  16. 16. Evaluating your Sources • When was the web page last updated? • Does the page link to other pages? • Are those links valid? • Is the page linked to by others? • Does the exact wording seem to appear on lots of different web pages? • .edu, .gov site are generally more reliable • but remember anyone can register a domain name Web Pages
  17. 17. Evaluating your Sources • Who is the publisher? • Is it a university press or a professional organization? • Is the author associated with an academic institution, a research group or a professional organization? • Is the article peer-reviewed? • Journal publication information will often let you know • You can have a scholarly source without it being peer- reviewed Is it Scholarly?
  18. 18. The Search Cycle • Searching is an investigative process • Look for other words or terms that appear in “good” results • Take note of the authors of “good” results • Don’t be afraid to narrow or broaden results – you may just find a better set of terms • Use Boolean search operations or the advanced search feature