Tips for effective literature searching and keeping up with new publications


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How can one keep track of all the scientific literature that is being published? The volume of research output has exploded, so a researcher may find it difficult to remain updated and ensure that his/her research does not turn out to be a duplication of someone’s previous work. To keep abreast of new publications and search for previous publications, you should have a good search strategy. This SlideShare provides quick and useful tips to become competent in knowing how to look through citations, formulate keywords, use reference managers, identify relevant journals, and follow alerts.

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Tips for effective literature searching and keeping up with new publications

  1. 1. Tips for effective literature searching and keeping up with new publications Helping you get published
  2. 2. Large volume of publications The volume of publication output has exploded You cannot rule out the possibility that your research topic has already been addressed in a recently published paper One of the most frequent reasons for rejection by journals is that the study is a duplication of work that’s already been published. It is important to keep up with published works in your field and use a structured search strategy to make sure you don’t overlook similar publications
  3. 3. Benefits of a good literature search Avoid duplicating already published work Provide strong justification and discussion for your study based on previous research Determine the best methods for your research Explore gaps and weaknesses in existing studies Become familiar with terminologies in your field
  4. 4. Basic search strategy for discovery of literature
  5. 5. Checklist for defining keywords What alternative vocabulary is used in discussion of my topic? Are there American and British variants of spelling or vocabulary? Can I identify a word-stem for truncation? E.g., child$ to find child, children, or childish. Are common abbreviations, acronyms or formulae used? What specific cases or examples am I interested in? What more general terms might include my topic? Are there categories Id like to exclude? Source: Planning a literature search. Leeds University Library.
  6. 6. Start your search Search multiple academic databases, like Scopus, ScienceDirect, and PsychINFO Search general databases like Scopus to browse for popular articles Search publisher and journal websites when looking for articles in a specific journal Search subject-specific databases like PsychoINFO to do in-depth research on a particular topic
  7. 7. Sources for searching Bibliographic/general Publisher databases and Subject-specific databases journal websites databases E.g., Scopus, ISI Web of E.g., Elsevier’s ScienceDirect, E.g., Medline, PsychINFO, Knowledge, Google Scholar, SpringerLink, Wiley Online MathSciNet,, EMBASE, JSTOR, ProQuest Library, Oxford Journals Sociological Abstracts, EconLit, ERIC, INSPEC Use to Use to Use to Browse for popular and Browse through journals Look for articles in a high quality articles that frequently publish specific discipline Start the discovery on your topics of interest Do in-depth research on process and find an Browse through journals a particular topic initial set of papers specific to your Look for articles on specialization obscure or niche topics
  8. 8. Follow the citations Browse through the reference list of relevant articles to find more related articles (backward searching) Look at papers that have cited relevant articles since publication (forward searching).
  9. 9. Keep a written record of your searches Note down names of journals you come across often Maintain a list of keywords and keyword combinations, so you’ll have a set of tried and tested keywords
  10. 10. Use a references manager Use a reference manager like Endnote or Zotero to download and manage papers Reference managers allow you to download and save papers in your computer’s library directly from journal websites with just one button click. They also make it very easy to organize your library and compile reference lists. Although these programs may be difficult to use initially, skimming through their help manual or video tutorial along with a few days of learning through trial and error are all that’s required to become comfortable with them.
  11. 11. Keeping up with the literature
  12. 12. Use alerts to keep up with new publications A large number of databases and publishers provide one or more of the following alerts features: Table-of- Contents (TOC) alerts, citation alerts, and keyword alerts. These alerts are very useful for keeping up with newly published papers and research topics. With many alert services, you receive alerts in the form of emails listing the title and authors of newly published papers, and sometimes even abstracts.
  13. 13. How to keep up with new publications through alerts Journals that crop up regularly during Get an email including table searches Sign up for TOC alerts of contents whenever a new Journals specific to your specialization through the journal issue of the journal is Journals you would like to publish in websites published Journals that crop up regularly during Sign up for keyword alerts Get an email whenever a searches with databases like Web of paper matching your Journals specific to your specialization Science, Scopus, and keyword is published or Journals you would like to publish in Google Scholar added to the database Journals that crop up regularly during Get an email whenever a searches Sign up for citation alerts Journals specific to your specialization through journal websites newly published paper cites Journals you would like to publish in one of these studies
  14. 14. Conference proceedings can provide the latest findings and discussions on the topicyou’re studying and give you clues on forthcoming papers that may be published.Unpublished clinical trials will inform you of trials already undertaken and theirresults.Theses, dissertations, and working papers can alert you to similar work beingundertaken by other researchers.A note of caution: you do need to be extra careful when citing grey literature inyour paper. Make sure that the scientific quality of the study you are citing canstand up to scrutiny.
  15. 15. Searching all literature • Include books and grey literature in your searches Major sources of grey literature – Conference proceedings – Government and organizational reports – Commercial, technical, and statistical reports – Unpublished clinical trials – Working papers – Theses and dissertations
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