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PLAN 625: eResearch Guide: Research help

About research

  • Your research question is your starting point
  • Identify the main concepts or ideas in that statement
  • Create a list of these concepts
  • Look for synonyms
  • Begin building your search strategy
  • Broaden your search and increase your results with the OR operator
  • Narrow your search and decrease your results with the AND operator
  • Consider your search platform (is it time to try something new?)
  • Decide on a set of databases appropriate for your topic
  • Evaluate the source of information
  • Keep track of your progress
  • Organize your findings
  • Consider using RefWorks, or some other bibilometric tool

Improving your search strategy

There are three main techniques when creating a search strategy.

1. Learn how to use Boolean operators (sounds too complicated? - not really)

   Expand your search by including synonyms. Join words that are similar in meaning by using the OR operator.

   Target your search by combining your concepts or ideas by using the AND operator.

   Refine your search by eliminating terms that are irrelevant by using the NOT operator (in SCOPUS the operator to exclude terms is AND NOT).

For example:

 (urban OR cities) AND ("transit systems" OR bus OR rail) AND ontario NOT automobile

2. Sometimes it is difficult to find synonyms that meet your needs. Check the thesaurus in the database, (most have one), or discover keywords within the database to find related terms that are indexed.

3. Check to see which field your keywords are being searched in, and switch it up to yield different results. For example, you can search for your keywords in the title field, or the abstract field, as a subject, etc.

To search in the Subject/Title/Abstract field is close to ideal, and Scopus defaults to this setting. Check the drop down menus by the search box to see what is available. Databases are highly structured systems, and like any system, if you take the time and discover the options and possibilities, you will yield the results you need. Good luck - and let me know!

Resources

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Encyclopedia of the City

The Encyclopedia of the City focuses on the key topics encountered by undergraduates and scholars in urban studies and allied fields. Contributors include major theoreticians and practitioners, and on other individuals, groups, and organizations which study the city or practice in a field that directly or indirectly affects the city, the Encyclopedia necessarily adopts an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspective.

Encyclopedic Dictionary of Landscape and Urban Planning

This unique, multilingual, encyclopedic dictionary in two volumes covers terms regularly used in landscape and urban planning, as well as environmental protection. The languages are American and British English, Spanish (with many Latin-American equivalents), French, and German. The dictionary is intended for use by landscape architects, urban planners, nature conservationists, and environmentalists, working in planning practices, authorities (both local and government), research and educational institutes.
Since its first publication in 2001 with German as the lead language, the dictionary has been completely revised and extended, so that it now contains a total of approximately 10,500 terms in each language.

Encyclopedia of Global Change

Encompassing tsunamis, elephant conservation, ocean pollution, mining regulation, and permafrost melt, the 300 authoritative articles in this unique and wide-ranging encyclopedia investigate all types of phenomena that change life on Earth. The entries cover a range of general research categories: altered ecosystems, climate change, food and water supply, population, politics and global change, institutions and policies, biographies, and case studies.

Encyclopedia of Research Design

Covers the spectrum of research design strategies, from material presented in introductory classes to topics necessary in graduate research. Addresses cross- and multidisciplinary research needs, with many examples drawn from the social and behavioral sciences, neurosciences, and biomedical and life sciences. Provides summaries of advantages and disadvantages of often-used strategies. Uses hundreds of sample tables, figures, and equations based on real-life cases. The Encyclopedia of Research Design is the perfect instrument for new learners as well as experienced researchers to explore both the original and newest branches of the field.

The Student's Guide to Preparing Dissertations and Theses

Your Research Project: How to Manage It