Answered By: Tiger Swan
Last Updated: Mar 04, 2016     Views: 22

Thank you for contacting us today with your question. Many of the databases we have are designed for specific subject areas so depending upon your topic you may benefit greatly by using some of those. If you’re not familiar with using a database I would recommend you begin by using the database, Academic Search Premier. This is a multidisciplinary database so you can find articles on a variety of different topics.  You may find the link for this by going to the library homepage, and clicking on the link at the top for Article Databases by Title A-Z.

Once on the Databases A-Z page, you will see the link for Academic Search Premier.

I generally begin by doing an Advanced Search. This option link is located underneath the search box. Based upon your thesis statement, you will select the most thematic terms to use within the search boxes. Your keyword choices will make a huge difference in what you find/don't find. You do not want to type out your entire thesis or long phrases in the search boxes. Keep each search box you use focused upon one aspect of your topic.

You have done a great job at beginning to formulate your topic by the sounds of it but you’ll need to determine the terms that would be used in order to represent your focus. Perhaps for the first search box in your Advanced Search you can enter your initial words, "animal testing". Because it is a two-word concept, you may use the "quotation marks" to surround it in order to force the database to search for the phrase as opposed to it searching for each word individually. You will notice next to each search box there is a drop-down menu that you may use, but it is not required. I will often not use the drop-down box in my initial search and keep it as broad as possible because it is always easy to narrow your results.

In the second search box, you could try entering terms that relate to your focus. Perhaps trying the term, cosmetics.  With the search term you enter into the second box I would not select anything either from the drop-down box next to it and just leave it as it is (Select a Field (optional)).

Once you’ve performed a search you will notice some options for narrowing your results further in the left-hand margin. Under the section for ‘Limit To’ you will find the option for selecting Full Text, and also narrowing your results to ‘Scholarly Journals’ if your professor wishes for you to focus on more academic articles. However, if you do not select ‘Scholarly Journals’ you will be able to see all of the ‘Source Types’ also listed in the left-hand margin (magazines, journals, newspapers, etc.)

As you look through your results that appear from your first search you may click on the titles of the articles that sound interesting.  Clicking on the title will take you into the record for the article. Each record contains a lot of information about the article. The ‘abstract’ that is found in the record is most helpful. No matter how long an article may be, you should be able to read the brief abstract in order to determine if the article is going in the direction of your research. If the abstract does not sound relevant you simply go back to your list of results and continue looking.

If the abstract does sound relevant to your research topic the first thing I suggest doing is emailing it to yourself. When you are in an article record, you will notice a ‘tool box’ on the right-hand margin. Your link to email is located there. Because you selected the limiter for Full Text when you were looking at the initial list of results, all of the articles that appear for you now should have the full text of the article, either as a PDF and/or in html format within the article record. Your email will thus contain the full text of the article. Before you send the email you should also select the drop down option for ‘Citation Format’ and choose the citation format your professor requires for your paper (ie. MLA, APA, etc). If you select this it will also add the citation format into the email that is sent.

After you have looked through some of the intial results that appear, you can now try some different search terms in place of what you have already used. Perhaps now try replacing the term, "animal testing" with a search for "animal expirementation" in the first box and keep the term, cosmetics, in the second box. As you look at some of the article records, you may also discover that the term "animal expirementation" is the term the database uses to define the "animal testing". You can also try other combinations of terms in the search boxes in order to come up with even more different results.

There are many other tips and strategies for performing quality research. Please let us know what type of further assistance we can provide.  Thanks again for contacting us and we look forward to hearing from you again.

Tiger Swan

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