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Public Health: Research Tips

Basic Search Techniques

Using Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

Boolean Operators allow you to create a more effective search that combines your relevant terms while removing irrelevant ones by using AND, OR, or NOT in your search string. Visit this page for more information and examples of Boolean searching.

Refining Your Search

Most databases will allow you to FILTER or REFINE your search results using various criteria. For example:

  • To find recent articles, restrict your search by date (usually "recent" refers to the last 3-5 years)
  • To find specific publication types like literature reviews, clinical trials, taxonomic keys.
  • Narrow by subject, like a tag, so all articles considered to be about elderly populations.
  • Many more!

Every database is different; examine your search results page to find that database's specific filters and terminology. 

Follow the link below to visit our guide for more information and examples:

Filtering the Evidence

Using Citation Management Tools to Organize Your Research

Citation Management Tools are used to collect and store source information, allowing you to organize sources by research project, accurately format in-text citations and footnotes, and quickly create bibliographies.

Links to Citation Management Tools

*New RefWorks has a new look and features!

Need help choosing? Compare citation management tools

How-To Guides: 

Library Classes (free, but require registration):

nyu.libcal.com

Formatting Citations

Use the Citation Style Guide for instruction on formatting a paper or bibliography using APA, MLA, Chicago, AMA, and other styles. Provides information and links to Citation Management and Formatting Tools.

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Citation Tracking

Citation tracking allows you to use one source to search for other, relevant sources. The best 2 databases for tracking are Web of Science and Scopus. Google Scholar also has links to articles that have cited your source, but your results may not be as rewarding. For information on each of these, visit the Scholarly Metrics Research Guide.

Tips for Searching Web of Science

Tips for Searching Web of Science (WOS):

  • WOS works by linking articles through their bibliographies.  So, if you can only find one or two good articles on your topic in another database (like PubMed), try looking those articles up in WOS.  You'll likely find several other articles just by following WOS's bibliography trail.
     
  • WOS has tools that will allow you to get the "lay of the land" for your topic of interest.  Just run a search on your topic and then use the "analyze" feature on the right side of your results screen.  You can see which scientists publish most on your topic, which institutions have done the most research on the topic, and which years saw the most published research on your topic.

 

Searching PubMed

PubMed is a great database to use when searching the biomedical literature.  It currently comprises more than 22 million citations to the biomedical literature and covers the 1940s to present.  While basic searching in PubMed is quite simple, there are many advanced search features available that you may find very useful in your library research.  For more information about searching PubMed, visit our PubMed @ NYU guide.

Saving Searches and Creating Search Alerts

Many databases have the option to (after setting up an account) request search alerts. Alerts allow you to receive an email when new sources that match your search parameters are added to the database. Unfortunately all databases differ, so there is not always an alert option, and alerts are not always organized in the same way. PubMed, one of the databases you will likely use as you move forward, has the option to set up alerts and/or RSS feeds. The links for those are found just below the search bar. 

Many databases also offer a search saving feature that allows you to easily access your search history after logging back in to the database. These too require you to set up an account.