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Science Subject Guide: The Science Research Class



Click Here for the Passwords List.  You'll need to log in as a Catlin Gabel student or employee.  Having trouble? Contact your division librarian.

Science Research Class


By the end of this class, you should:

  • familiarize yourself with the research resources available to you 
  • know where to find database starting points & be able to log in
  • understand how to narrow down or broaden a search
  • know how to find and utilize common database features to improve your searches

You will have much better results when you use the correct scientific vocabulary.  Marguerite can help you improve your keyword list.

  • clarify your question
  • brainstorm keywords and phrases to fuel your search.  THINK: scientific terms
  • select databases from the list provided
  • start with a broad search, and slowly narrow it down
  • learn from your searches.  steal keyword ideas by reading abstracts (brief summaries of the contents of the article).  

Good Quality Searching
Put phrases in quotation marks

Ex:  "carbon sequestration"
Ex:  "biomass fuel*"
Ex:  "drosophila melanogaster"

Use truncation to grab all endings of a word

Ex:  vertebrate* finds vertebrate, vertebrates, etc.
Ex:  behavior* finds behavior, behaviors, behavioral, etc.

Narrow Down Your Search
This example is from a search in Academic Search Premier.  Start with a simple search term or phrase. 

  • Ex: dementia (95,000+ results.  Yikes)

Add search terms, using quotation marks for phrases.  You'll get fewer results.

  • Ex: dementia
  • "lewy body"
  • treatment* (narrows it down to 542 results)

Add limiters!

  • limit by date to dramatically reduce results to the freshest materials
  • limit by full-text

Now you have a modest number of up-to-date articles to peruse. 

PubMed Central

PubMed Central is a great database managed by the US National Library of Medicine.  Here are some important things to know about PubMed:

  • Keyword searching is now easier, and often very effective.  The default is to search for keywords within the article's abstract.
  • Not everything is full text. Click on Open Access to see articles you can read right now.
  • Review articles are important when learning about the research in the field.  They summarize important developments.

Notice some of the useful features to click and explore when you find an article that's useful.

EbscoHost Databases
You can bundle the databases and search them simultaneously, which is smart, and saves you time.  Here are the ones that are most likely to meet your needs when bundled together:

  • Academic Search Premier
  • Business Source Premier
  • Green File
  • Health Source Nursing/Academic Edition
  • MasterFile Premier
  • Medline
  • Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection

Here's a screenshot of a search. Be sure to select Full Text, and consider narrowing the date range.

Notice that I selected Full Text on the left. You can narrow the date range if needed, and stack your search terms in the search boxes above.  This search shows multiple databases selected. 

Need help with your research?  Ask Marguerite or Sue.

Choosing Databases

You need to select the right tool for the right job.  Different databases search for different kinds of content.  In the Science Research class, it's helpful to find articles that provide you with an overview of your topic before you dive in more deeply.

HELPFUL HINTS:  All Database logins and passwords are available through the Database Passwords link at the left.   When using EbscoHost databases, you can select and search multiple databases simultaneously. See the graphic below to learn how.

The Power of Review Articles:  Some databases permit you to find review articles that "catch you up" on the most important research on a specific topic.  These are excellent entry points for students learning about a topic. 

Human Health & Medicine

Biology, Chemistry, & More

Environmental Science

You Might Also Try...

A Note About Google Scholar
GoogleScholar provides a patchwork of results from various sources rather than organized, consistent results.  Nonetheless, for your research, it can be a handy source of review articles!  GoogleScholar is a specialized search engine, and not nearly as comprehensive as the academic database PubMedCentral.  Here's a comparison between the two:

PubMed Central GoogleScholar
  • offers a controlled vocabulary (improves accuracy of results)
  • omits duplicates in its results
  • clear, scholarly standards for including research in the database
  • strong options for limiters for precise searches

• no controlled vocabulary
• includes duplicates in results
• haphazard inclusion of results from varying sources
• far fewer limiters reduce precision of results

• useful to be able to select review articles when searching

Where does GoogleScholar really shine?  It can help you find conference papers, some review articles, dissertations, and other useful academic materials that might not be included in an academic database you're searching.

Need help?  Confused? Talk to Marguerite and Sue.  We'll help.

CRAP Test:  Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose/Point of View

The CRAP test is a useful tool for evaluating the sources you find online.  Whether it's a website, a blog entry, or an article that looks official but doesn't come from an academic database, this CRAP test will help you determine whether it's worth your time.  Be skeptical! 

Your US Librarian

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Sue Phillips
Upper School Library
503.297.1894 x4550 (circulation desk); (503)297-1894 x4100 (voicemail)