Skip to main content

ENG118 (2017): Water: Science and Politics: Search Tips

Fall 2017, N. Moreira

General Science Encyclopedias

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 sanitation in -- Kenya or South Africa or Bangladesh or the United States.  I am specifically interested in composting toilets. 

STEP 2
Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.

EXAMPLE: sanitation, composting toilets, country [Kenya, South Africa, United States]

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.

 

sanitation

sanitary

compost* toilet*

latrine

sewerage 

wastewater

 

 

Kenya

South Africa

Africa

-------------
Bangladesh

-------------

United States
 

 

 

 

 

cost

effectiveness

 

 

 

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:

(sanitation OR latrine* OR compost* toilet*) AND (South Africa) 

 

Need Help?

Profile Image

Rocco Piccinino

 

Contact:
Young Science Library
(413) 585-2951
rpiccini@smith.edu

Encyclopedias

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