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Using the Web for Research: Update Bibliographic References

Problem

When doing research, you discover a bibliographic reference to material that you cannot find in the library.

EXAMPLES: 

  • Description of a journal article is missing the volume and year
  • Volume and year for a journal article do not match properly, so there is a mistake in the bibliographic reference

Solution

Searching Google can often solve (but not always) problems like this very quickly. Searching an appropriate journal database or library catalogue can be time-consuming.  

Demonstration: Books

This shows you how to complete a bibliographic reference for a book you want.

EXAMPLE:

  • You are looking for a book called Washing of Wrongs that provides guidelines to an early Chinese coroner system
  • You can't find the title in the library catalogue

Strategy:

  • Search Google with the phrase "washing of wrongs"
  • Matches in Google refer to the same title, so this does not help
  • Try searching Amazon.ca 
    • The results indicate that the correct title is: The Washing Away of Wrongs: Forensic Medicine in Thirteenth-Century China, and include author & publishing information 
    • Since this title is not listed in the library catalogue, you could request it through the Interlibrary loans

Demonstration: Journal articles

This shows you how to fix a bibliographic reference for an article you want.

EXAMPLE:

You have this bibliographic reference that seems to be wrong, since you cannot find the article: M. Overduin and T. Beer (2000) The plot thickens: How thrombin modulates blood clotting, Nature Struct. Biol., 18(1): 69-70.

Search the web to see if you can verify this bibliographic reference quickly.

Strategy:

  1. Go to Google
  2. Enter the search Overduin "plot thickens"
  3. The 1st search result points to the following reference, with different volume/issue and pages: M. Overduin and T. Beer (2000) The plot thickens: How thrombin modulates blood clotting, Nature Struct Biol, 7 (4), 267-269
  4. Go to the library catalogue, and search by the abbreviated journal title
  5. Since the journal Nature Structural Biology is listed and available online since 1994, follow the link to access the full text of your article