The single most important thing to know about research is that you can always get help from the Library!
Need help with research for a paper, project, or other research-related task? Schedule an appointment with a Research Librarian and meet via Zoom conferencing software. See below for science research librarian contact information.
Chapel Cowden & Virginia Cairns are UTC's librarians that work with Scientific Writing. Chapel is the Health & Science Librarian at UTC and works closely with all science and health science programs on campus. Contact her via email at Chapel-Cowden@utc.edu. Virginia is an Instruction Librarian with a deep background in the health sciences and can be reached at Virginia-Cairns@utc.edu. While email is a great way to get in touch and get the research ball rolling, you likely be asked to meet online using Zoom, which offers a richer learning experience.
Need an answer quickly and it's after 5pm? Use the Library's chat service! Our Ask A Librarian chat service allows to you live chat with a real librarian who can answer your research questions. Check the Library's website for chat operating hours. You can also text us at 423-521-0564.
Scientific Writing topics and research questions are diverse, which can make it difficult to pick an appropriate database for your research. Here are some steps to help you determine where to search:
There are some databases that cover a broad range of science and health science research that should also be part of your searching toolkit:
This database is an expansive multidisciplinary index to the sciences, social sciences, arts, & humanities. This is a challenging database to use, but if you carefully construct your searches, it can yield very precise results. Be sure to refer to the Web of Science Tip Sheet for help using the database.
This database provides comprehensive coverage of medical and biomedical research. This database is also somewhat challenging to use. While we do have a Database Tip Sheet for PubMed, we don't have one for the brand new interface that PubMed has--stay tuned!
Google Scholar is the academic side of Google. It is a familiar interface and can provide really great results on the first page or two. Results can be altered by date, which is usually helpful for Scientific Writing assignments. While Google Scholar won't be the only database you use, you should give it a try.
By this point in your college career, you have probably had a chance to search library databases. You understand that you need keywords (not sentences) when you search a database. However, using science terminology might be new territory.
Natural language refers to the common way that we speak in everyday life. Database language refers to how a database classifies a concept and is usually very technical. Though most databases are great at matching natural language entered with database terminology, it’s important for you to begin recognizing scientific terminology. Some examples include:
|Natural Language||Database Language|
|Heart attack||Myocardial infarction|
|Hellbender||Cryptobranchus alleganiensis (genus & species)|
|Concussion||Traumatic Brain Injury|
Synonyms and related terms for the word cardiac arrest death include:
Synonyms and related terms for young athletes might include:
Once you've decided what to research, where you plan to search, and the keywords you want to try, it's time to create a search strategy. Each of the following sections will help you build and properly conduct your search.
These words can be used in Library databases, but also work really well in Google! They are important for creating efficient, effective searches.
Expands the search.
Used to string synonyms together.
Results include all articles with any of the terms used.
(all results including the words "hand washing" as well as all results including the words "hand hygiene")
Narrows the search.
All retrieved results must include all terms connected with AND.
AND usually combines different concepts together in one search.
AND is assumed between words in Google.
(only results that include both the terms "hospital infection" and "antibiotic")
Excludes results with a specific term.
Really handy to eliminate unwanted search results.
(all results with the term "antibiotic", but excluding those with the term "penicillin")
So how do we put these terms into use along with what we learned about synonyms in the keyword section? Let's take an example research question and break it down into a good search strategy.
Does hand washing amongst healthcare workers reduce healthcare facility acquired infections?
|Synonyms for Concept #1||Hand washing||OR||Handwashing||OR||Hand hygiene||OR||Hand disinfection|
|Synonyms for Concept #2||Healthcare facility acquired infection||OR||Hospital acquired infections||OR||Nosocomial infections||OR||Healthcare associated infections|
|Synonyms for Concept #3||Healthcare workers||OR||Health personnel||OR||Healthcare provider||OR||Health professional|
The idea here is to combine synonyms and concepts in different ways for multiple searches. Combining your terms should reduce the overall number of searches needed. Example search strategies:
This tutorial is for Professor Bell's Scientific Writing sections. The tutorial should take 45 minutes to complete. Click the blue button above to begin.
Much of the information covered in the tutorial is above, in the Beginning Research for Scientific Writing section, so feel free to reference back when needed.