Research Projects: 4

Conducting Your First Search

Initially, I want you to discover what other scientific researchers have learned about your species, so you need to access the scientific databases, which contain vast numbers of scientific publications containing the results of scientific discoveries. There are numerous databases, with some more specialized than others. You may need to look in a specialized database, but let’s start by accessing one of the general scientific databases: Web of Science

To access the Web of Science database from off-campus, click here: http://oca.ucsc.edu/login. To use Off-Campus Access be sure to activate your student ID in the library. Once you’ve done this, enter the barcode # on your ID in the login page. You do not need to use off-campus access if you are on the UCSC campus.

For an overview tutorial, check out this video:

Now that you’re in a database, you need to conduct a search for articles with knowledge about your species. Let’s start with a simple search.

 

Web of Science – Search Examples

 
Cruzcat Screenshot

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Here’s an example where I entered the Web of Science database and typed in “banana slug” and “climate change,” with a timespan of “all years.” My basic search found no records. Ok, so now I tried changing my search terms. Try using synonyms for your original search terms.
Cruzcat Screenshot

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I tried “banana slug” and “global warming” and still got no records. So now I’ll substitute the scientific name “ Ariolimax” for banana slug and retain “global warming.” I still got no records.
Cruzcat Screenshot

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And to be systematic, I tried “ariolimax” and “climate change” and still got no records.

Cruzcat Screenshot

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So now I decided to search more broadly, trying the term “ariolomax” and dropping all other terms. I found 80 records! But wait … the articles seem to cover several slug species and say little about climate change, although one mentions habitat loss. Hmmm … I wonder what might happen to that slug if climate change contributes to greater habitat loss ….. maybe there’s a potential line of research in this area ……….. let’s put this search on hold for now and go back to your species.

You should type in the common name of your species and the phrase “climate change,” then try other simple searches, using synonyms.

 

 

Don’t forget to try using Boolean operators and other techniques as shown in this training video:

What did you find? Take a quick look at the titles. Click on a title that looks promising and see if you can find “The Abstract,” which provides a brief overview of the research. If you cannot readily find the Abstract, then you may need to access the “full text” of the article. Look around the page for a link to the “full text.” (Hint: the database may use different words to describe the full text—you are looking for a link that leads you to the entire article.)

Read the abstracts of several journal article titles, then answer this question: Do these articles address some portion of your research question?

You will most likely say yes, no, or sort of. All three answers are significant, so let’s move on to the next step.

 

<— Step 3        –        Step 5 —>