Researching scientific topics
|Column 1||Column 2|
|Research strategies to read broadly on your topic||Finding and reading other researchers work on your topic|
Can l use Wikipedia?
You need to think about how to use Wikipedia. It's okay to use it as a starting point to get your bearings, browse different sections to get an overview of the general content, then look at the sources used.
Google can be very helpful but it is much more useful if you know how to use it effectively.
Some basic search tips:
- Use quotation marks when searching for a phrase e.g. "climate change"
- Use the I'm feeling lucky button to find the most popular website on a topic
Search website titles:
- e.g. allintitle:climate change
Search specific sites or domains:
- eg: site:edu (searchs .edu sites only)
- eg: site:.gov (searches only government sites)
Search for specific document types:
- eg: filetype:pdf filetype:ppt filetype:xls
Find a definition:
- eg: define: nanotechnology
Advanced search option:
- You can combine many of the above commands and add date restrictions, if you start your search in the Advanced Search screen
Alternative Search Engines
Carrot2 is a visual search engine. After you enter your keywords for your search choose to display as "treemap" or "pie-chart", this will categorise and visual the results. The search results are similar to Google, in a categorised form.
Searching EBSCO database
Using a database ensures the information has been reviewed (PEER REVIEWED) for authority and accuracy.
- Select EBSCOhost research database to search all of the EBSCO content.
- or Select Science Reference Centre
- Select Advanced Search
- Refine your search using some of the following options: date of publication, publication type, document type and lexile reading level
- Enter keyword/s eg plant growth
TIP: You can use filetype:pdf in your search e.g genetics filetype:pdf to find PDF versions of articles. If you find an article in Google Scholar that you can't access, try searching for it in our library databases.
Evaluate your web search results
If you search via search engines, the results you find have not been reviewed by an authority for accuracy (as opposed to databases which have been reviewed). Therefore you must evaluate the information before using.
A number of factors must be considered when analysing the resources that you have used, such as:
- The scientific content - is it accurate or not?
- The detail provided - is the information discussed in depth or only superficially?
- The accessibility of the language - is it easy to read and understand?
- The credibility of the source - can you trust the information given by the source?
- The bias or impartiality of the source - are both sides of the argument covered equally?