The Database Search
First, you’ll need some keywords to limit your search. Which words or phrases relate best to the information you want to find? If you have papers already or other reading material, this can be a good place for keyword inspiration. Keep a note of these words so that you can expand on them later. You might come up with alternative words, such as synonyms and abbreviations, or try some spelling variations. Alternatively, you can make use of genei’s keywords section and use these results to guide your search. Second, take some time to learn about ‘power searching’ by using ‘Boolean operators’. These are simple techniques that involve adding words or symbols to narrow down or widen your search using your key terms. You can find some of these advanced techniques here. Additionally, you can limit the scope of your search by defining essential criteria such as date, language, publication type (ebook or journal article), or the journal you’re interested in. This can refine the results that get returned to you. Similarly, you can begin to make note of key journals or authors that come up, and conduct a separate search by defining that journal or look up the author to see their other work.
Now that you’ve made a start, it’s a good idea to keep track of the databases you have searched, and the key words or search techniques used. This will make it easier to keep up with what you have or haven’t done so far. If you’re working on a research project and need to conduct an extensive literature review, this is particularly important. Here’s an example of a literature search tracking log. While this documents the search process, it’s also important to store and organise the papers you want to check out. You could organise the papers using date, author names, or your keywords. Reference managers often have ‘tagging’ tools to organise papers. However, this could simply be picking a naming convention such as ‘Year_FirstAuthor_Keyword1’ in a folder on your computer.
Another effective way to source out relevant literature is by identifying connecting papers. It can be useful to start with a recent research paper because this will point to older research on that topic. As mentioned earlier, this could also help you to identify key authors for your search. genei makes finding connected papers easy by generating a reference list of the sources used and their links. Likewise, in order to find out if the paper is relevant to your particular research interest, it’s best to read the abstract, then introduction and conclusion. However, genei generates AI-powered summaries that allow you to skim the entire paper, saving you time and allowing you to identify key topics within the paper.