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Resources for Geosciences Graduate Students

Getting the most from databases...

Get the most out of your information search by using specialized features in library databases.  These databases offer filtering systems that allow you to discover terminology, limit by document type or publication date, or even search by location.

Here are some approaches to getting the most out of your searches...


1. Start with a very general search, then use controlled vocabulary filters to narrow down your results.

Let's say you need information about the Earth's Archean atmosphere.  You could start with a very general search in Georef and get thousands of results.


Now it's time to look at the filtering options for this results list:


A key strategy is to examine the controlled vocabulary filter.  This filter contains the main topic categories for all the search results.  To filter through the categories, click on View more to see the range of topics:


Choose the relevant topic categories, then limit the results.  This is a good way to see the main sub-topics for your search terms and to find new keywords.


2.  Try a more focused search and use database language.

This method involves brainstorming keywords for each concept you search, then translating them into database language.  Here's an example...

Topic: Composition of the Earth's Archean atmosphere, and solar radiation levels

Concept Keywords Database Language
Archean Archean Archean
Earth's atmosphere atmosphere, paleoatmosphere, climate atmospher* OR paleoatmosphere OR climate
solar radiation solar radiation, ultraviolet light "solar radiation" OR ultraviolet

Put " " around two or more words to link them as a phrase.

Put * at the end of root words to find different endings.  E.g. stress* looks for stress, stressed, stressing, stressor

Link keywords describing the same concept with the operator OR.

Link the different concepts together with the operator AND.  In this Georef search, each concept has its own search box.  The operator AND is automatically used between the different boxes.