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EARTH 100: Research Preparation for Undergraduates: Search tips and tricks
This guide is designed to help students prepare for conducting research with the faculty.
Searching tips and tricks
Whether your searching the library catalog, Searchworks, or a specialized database, it's good to keep these tips and tricks in mind for better results.
Less is more! If you don't find enough results on cycling of nitrates, instead try nitrogen.
Expand time or geography. If you don't find enough results on Pre-Eocene San Joaquin-Tulare Basins, instead try (mesozioc or paleozoic or precambrain) AND San Joaquin.
Limit with caution. Certain features may limit your retrieval in ways you don't expect. Some recommended limits are: Source Type, Date, and Limiting to “Peer reviewed” (in Basic and Advanced Search).
GeoRef search tip: The truncation symbol is an asterisk (*) and the wildcard is a question mark (?). Using the * on a word will look for ALL possible variations for that word:
environment* will search for environment, environmental, environments …
[*3]magnet* will search for magnetic, demagnetization, geomagnetic, geomagnetism …
geolog*will search for geology, geologic, and geological
Remember to use Boolean logic. Use the OR search connector to search for different phrasings. If you use AND and OR search commands in the same search, put parentheses around the OR terms: try (mesozioc or paleozoic or precambrain) AND San Joaquin.
To specify a location, consider your site at different scales. For information about Lake Tahoe, use terms like:
Northern Sierra Nevada
State names (California and Nevada); County names
Also add geologically-related terms:
mines and mining
And consider both time periods and rock formations:
Cambrian, Pleistocene, etc.
For a more directed search, do a subject search. In a subject search, you need to use official Library of Congress terminology. This type of language might not seem natural to you, but if you are not having any luck with keywords, it can be quite useful. For example, to find a guide for the Lake Tahoe region, you would type:
Geology--Tahoe, Lake, Region (Calif. and Nev.)--Guidebooks
Other "official" subject terms include:
For the subject Geochemistry:
search also under the broader term Chemistry
search also under the broader term Earth sciences
search also under the narrower term Analytical geochemistry
search also under the narrower term Biogeochemistry