DATABASE SEARCHING SKILLS : PEER REVIEW : DATABASE SELECTION : DIFFICULT TOPICS TO RESEARCH: Coupling a Dance with Discovery Services or Social Work Citation Analysis with Engineering : Improving Ones Database Searching Skills with Database Knowledge

David P. Dillard

Many students, teachers and professionals have difficulty finding answers and relevant sources for their research questions. Part of this problem is caused because database and search engine users have not learned what each search tool does and does not do and how to make the search tools do things that are not options on the links they provide for narrowing or modifying a search. For example, Google Scholar does not provide links to narrow searches to specific types of publications such as "peer reviewed", "qualitative research", "quantitative research" or "evidence based", but one can add these, any or all of them, in a search statement to require that the results found from the search have any or all of these qualities.
Some found sources will have these qualities after a search, others will mention these phrases for other reasons. But including peer reviewed as one of the search terms is likely, for example, to find some or most of the results are from peer reviewed journals. Two discovery services from ProQuest that are available to all internet users from at least some of the subscribers have peer reviewed as a limiting opition for search results. This is a stronger option than including peer reviewed in the search strategy. Proquest also owns Ulrich's Periodicals Directory which indicates if a journal is referred (i.e peer reviewed). Proquest is probably using this data in Ulrich's as an authority file to determine which journal articles in Summon and Primo are peer reviewed.

I came across a request to know if there were peer reviewed articles about a specific dance as a college professor requires peer reviewed articles about such dances as sources in a writing assignment, so I sent these links to the client.

Penn State Summon Search


Temple Primo Search


Google Scholar

The top two links in this case are clearly the most important.
If you want to search other dances, simply change the name of the dance in each search and click on the peer reviewed link on the left sidebar in Summon and Primo and add it as a search term in Google Scholar.

Knowledge of databases also extends, among many other things, to whether a database only indexes the core journals in the specific discipline it covers or finds related content in journals outside its field or goes even wider than that and indexes content irrelevant to its field from seemingly irrevant journals. Clearly the wider a databases coverage, the better the chances on will find sources on topics on the borderline or beyond of a subject discipline focused database.

In this regard, consider this journal article citation from the Inspec database.

"Inspec: Engineering Research Database

Inspec, a comprehensive engineering research database provides the academic, industry, and government sectors with an intuitive, searchable engineering database that covers a wide variety of fields. Inspec provides engineering research information on physics, electrical engineering and electronics, computers and control, mechanical, production engineering, information technology and more."

The citation found in INSPEC

Finding citations to social work literature: the relative benefits of using web of science, scopus, or google scholar
Lasda Bergman, E.M. (Bibliographer for Social Welfare, Gerontology & Dewey Reference, Univ. at Albany, Albany, NY, United States)
Source: Journal of Academic Librarianship, v 38, n 6, p 370-9, Nov. 2012

Searching this article title so important to social work faculty and graduate students, not to mention those in related fields like psychology or sociology in Social Work Abstracts or Social Services Abstracts finds a null result as the Journal of Academic Librarianship is apparently irrelevant to social work in the judgement of the producers of these databases.

This means sources that are important to your research will often not be found in a databases where they "should" be found but will be found in databases that are unlikely sources for this content. One type of database, the general all topic database, is an extremely important place to look for such sources. Google Scholar, Google Books, Google, and Penn State Summon when one looks at all Summon Libraries using a link to search beyond Penn State for Summon citations. Google Scholar, Google Books, Summon and Primo are important tools for finding scholarly research articles and books that cross interdisciplinary lines of the search topic.

Also one must be aware of changes in how databases work and often in the case of Google this is not for the better.

Google Uncle Sam, a valuable database of United States government sources, often full text, was eliminated

Google Blog search was also eliminated

Google News Archive that want back with news reports for over two centuries was eliminated and then later replaces with just the newspaper content Google itself had digitized.

Google News no longer covers news reports from 2000 to the present, but is now little more than a daily news source with only the current day's news.

Just in the last week or two, using Google Scholar, one must select Artcles or Case Law on the outside page forcing one to save their search strategy on Word, Notepad or the like and reuse it inside Google Scholar and then returning to Google Scholar

and back inside rather than switching inside with a search already done.

Also one no longer can click on CITE to get source citations in six formats, one must click on a quotation mark to get the same result.

Google Scholar Citation Example

BOOK AND FILM REVIEWS: Revolutionary View of the History of Science: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions TS Kuhn - The Physics Teacher, 1970 - Our nevv FKB-120 l ntroductory Kit cornbines fluid mechanics and digital logic to demonstrate practical fluidic circuits. It's an ideal way to introduce students to the nevv discipline of fluidics, the fast-growing technology now recognized as the practical solution to Cited by 97751 Related articles All 88 versions Library Search

On the left side of the bottom line one finds the quotation mark which when clicked provides six citation options incluing MLA and APA

One also finds a left bracket on the right side of this line that links directly to the free web version of Worldcat which amongst other things provides the user with a list of libraries that own the source cited in Google Books for publications with a Worldcat record. Right handed brackets in the same location provide a "cached record" from another source for the item in the Google Scholar citation.

In short, relearning is a big part of database search skill learning.

Realted Research Guides

NEWS: Russell Conwell Guide Series: Newspapers News and News Archive Resources


Information and Computer Science
[A work in progress, database list of 20 Google Sites Pages is now complete]




Russell Conwell Center Research Guides.

Search Technique Resources and Finding Tools


RESEARCH PAPERS: How to Write a Research Paper






David Dillard
Temple University
(215) 204 - 4584


Temple University and Google Sites Research Guides
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Social Work and Social Issues Discussion Group

Tourism Discussion Group

Digital Scholarship Discussion Group

Copyright Research Guide
Copyright, Intellectual Property and Plagiarism Sources

Fair Use


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Information Literacy (Russell Conwell Guide)

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Bushell, R. & Sheldon, P. (eds),
Wellness and Tourism: Mind, Body, Spirit,
Place, New York: Cognizant Communication Books.
Wellness Tourism: Bibliographic and Webliographic Essay
David P. Dillard

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