Article Searching Tips

If you're just getting started researching a particular topic, try the following tips.

Look for 'Review' Articles

Review articles summarize the current state of research on a particular topic within a discipline. Starting with review articles can bring you up to speed and introduce you to many relevant sources.

To find review articles, you can:

  1. Add the word "review" to your search. This isn't a highly precise search, but can help.
  2. Focus on articles published in review journals, such as the Academy of Management Review and the American Economic Review.
  3. If looking into psychology-related research, use PsycINFO's Advanced Search options you can filter by methodology to include literature review, meta analysis, metasynthesis, and systematic review.

Note: Many databases allow you to filter by document or source type. Most of the time the "review" option refers to book reviews, not a review article.

Trace Citations

If you find a paper that is very relevant, you can find additional sources by tracing backwards (looking at the references used) and by tracing forwards (looking at what newer papers have cited the one you found).

Each of the three largest databases of academic journals allow you to easily trace citations:

  1. Google Scholar - use the Cited by link in the relevant paper's search result (see image), and then you can search within the citing articles (see image).
  2. Scopus - on a paper's record use the Cited by x documents link to find sources that cited the paper and the View references link to find the sources the paper cited in its own bibliography (see image).
  3. Web of Science - on a paper's record use the Times Cited link to find sources that cited the paper and the Cited References link to find the sources the paper cited in its own bibliography (see image).

Use Synonyms

The words used to describe the same thing can change over time, across disciplines, and in academic research vs. common language. For example, synonyms for "remote work" would include 'telecommuting,' 'telecommute,' "work from home," "working from home," etc.

Some phrases might work better in some databases or disciplines than others. It can be helpful to keep a running list of what you have tried where and what worked.

Additional Search Tips

See more keyword search tips.

Answered By: Alice Kalinowski
Last Updated: Jul 16, 2020

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