Developing Search Strategies
- Select keywords from your research topic
- Find synonyms or related terms for each of the keyword you identified above
- Use Boolean operators (AND, OR) to connect your keyword; Combine concepts using AND, and combine alternate terms within a concept using OR
- Select search tools (library catalogue, databases, etc.)
- Conduct your search
- Review your search results and revise your search if necessary
Use the Search Strategy Worksheet in the Library Handout to help you develop your search strategies.
Finding information on your topic
If you are new to your topic or would like to start by reading some more general background information, here are some good places to start:
Use Omni to find books (print and online) on your topic from Western Libraries and the Affiliated University College Libraries
A large collection of E-books by McGraw Hill for engineering and sciences subject areas. Check the AccessEngineering LibGuide
for content coverage, user guides, and video tutorials.
CRCnetBASE (Taylor & Francis)
CRCnetBASE is an e-book collection by Taylor & Francis, offering instant access to the world's premier scientific, technical and medical reference
Note: Review articles, an important source of background information, can be really helpful in getting started: They synthesize key research on your topic and normally are written by experts in your fields. Review articles are generally published in journals and can be found in databases.
You can find articles and conference papers in the following databases:
- Please register for your individual account for SciFinder prior to the library session.
SciFinder: Its coverage includes journal articles, conference papers, dissertations, and patents (from many patent issuing organizations). You can search by research topic, chemical substance, structure and substructure. Click for CAS database content and SciFinder content - biomedical information. Find the SciFinder-N Registration link on the library catalogue record. The registration is a two-part process and must be completed from within the University's IP range. Learn about Web version system requirements and access online training materials.
- We also use the following databases:
Web of Science: The Web of Science provides seamless access to current and retrospective multidisciplinary information from approximately 8,700 of the most prestigious, high-impact research journals in the world.
Scopus: Scopus is a navigation tool covering the world's largest collection of abstracts, references and indexes of scientific, technical, and medical (STM) literature. Seamless links to full-text articles and other library resources make Scopus quick, easy, and comprehensive.
GeoRef: GeoRef is the most comprehensive database in the geosciences. It covers the geology of North America from 1669 - present and the geology of the rest of the world from 1933 - present. The database includes references to all publications of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Consult Ulrich's Periodical Directory to identify peer-reviewed scholarly journals
Check Journal Citation Reports (JCR) for finding journal impact factors and rankings
Check the Finding Dissertations guide for dissertations and theses
What if the library doesn't have an article or book you want? Use the Interlibrary Loans system to request it from another library (generally free of charge for Western users)
Research Process Toolkit
The tutorial toolkit is a collection of Western Libraries tutorials specific to the research process. Organized as a step by step series from the beginning to the end of the research process, this toolkit helps equip undergraduate students with essential research skills along with the knowledge of various ways the Library can help