How to make databases work for you!

Whether you’ve been given an article as a starting point or are embarking on a detailed literature review, databases can take some of the hard work out of finding quality articles that are relevant to your topic… By Catherine Hocking

Snowballing your results with citation searching

You’ve been recommended an article? Great – let’s get started! You can grow your results quickly, just like rolling a snowball, by looking at just one article. A quality article - like one your  supervisor has recommended - is a great starting point for your search.

Firstly, you can look at the reference list at the end of your article – this will point you towards earlier materials that helped the author(s) to write the article. But what a database like Scopus or Web of Science can do is allow you to look  forward in time, discovering how others have built upon this research with the "database citation tracking" feature.

Here’s how it looks in Web of Science: Click on the ‘Times Cited’ number and instantly you have a whole new list of related resources at your fingertips!

If you haven’t been given an article, never fear, as you can find out how to get started by taking our tutorial on Developing a search strategy or contacting a subject librarian for expert advice. Once you have found a good article or two you can get on with citation searching!

Want to know when the latest cutting edge research is published?

Setting up an alert can help.  Most databases offer some form of alert service.  By setting up a Personal Account in your favourite databases you can access alert services for your saved searches, new citations for a particular author or journal article, TOC (table of contents) for new issues of a specific journal or RSS feeds.

There are so many ways in which databases can  help you keep on top of your research.  Read our basic guide on Alert services and check out the Help in your favourite database for specific details.

Image: Snowball, Oxford UK 2007 Kaymar Adl, CC/2.0/
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