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EGR390: Special Topics in Engineering: Search Tips & Background Information

Fall 2016 Dorsey

Encyclopedias

Scholarly encyclopedias will provide background information and references as well to other useful resources.

Wikipedia - Beware

 

Wikipedia

BEWARE:  Can provide useful background information, but don't believe everything you read!  Evaluate and verify.

 

Contentious Science Topics on Wikipedia Subject to Editing Mishchief
by Meghan Rose, Science News [188;7, Oct. 3, 2015, p. 5.]

 

Search Tips

Whether you are searching for books in the Five College Library Catalog, or searching for scholarly articles in a library database, it pays to be organized as you start your search.  Break down searching into a three step process.

STEP 1
Write down as much information about your topic as possible. (You can use Encyclopedias and other reference books to help gather background information). Answer the following questions:

  • What is your topic?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What do you know? What don't you know?

Then, try to summarize what you are looking for in one or two sentences.

EXAMPLE: I would like to learn more about mems, specifically, some used in medical applications (for the heart, eye, etc.). 

STEP 2

Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.

EXAMPLE: mems, medical applications, eye, heart

 

STEP 3
Now create a list of synonyms of your key concepts. Think broadly, think narrowly! This step is helping you expand your search by expressing your query in a variety of ways. If you get too many results, then you can work on focussing your search.

 

mems

micro-electro-
mechanical systems

 

 

 

 

medical application*

heart

eye

 

 

 

 

fabricat*

manufactur*

 

 

 

 

You will use the word lists you developed in Step 3 to create search strategies. Use "OR" between synonyms and "AND" between concepts. For instance:

(mems) AND (medical OR heart)  

Download this worksheet (with bonus search tips!) to help you organize your search strategy.

Science and Engineering Research Help

Rocco Piccinino's picture
Rocco Piccinino
Contact:
413-585-2951
rpiccini@smith.edu
Young Library 106