Research help for students, faculty, and staff in Agricultural Sciences.

Keywords vs. Subject Headings

The most common type of searching is keyword searching. Using subject headings can give you more control in your search while ensuring you don't miss anything relevant.

What exactly are "keywords" and "subject headings"?


Here is one example of Keywords and Subject Headings (SH) in multiple databases:

In this example PubMed and Life Sciences have one SH for the plant and spice - Coriandrum. PubAg has separate SH's depending on if you are looking at the leaf, the seed, or the plant.

Searching by SH allow you even more control over your search but it can be a bit confusing at first. To explore the controlled vocabulary of whatever database you are using, look for the Thesaurus or Subject Heading guide (for example, in PubMed it is MeSH - Medical Subject Headings)

Citation Searching (Web of Science)

This is a great way to find more articles that are related to the article you found!

Citation searching is the process of going both backward and forward in time to learn about the works that influenced an author (by looking at who they cited) and who the author themselves influenced (by looking at who cited them).

Web of Science is still recognized as the first place to go when you are looking for citation information for most scientific disciplines. The CSU Libraries provides access to the Web of Science Database. Once in the database you can perform citation searching and create citation reports. Consult the LibGuide on Web of Science for more information.

The Web of Science Citation Reports feature provides a bar chart,  times cited information, and more.

WOS citation report

When you search Web of Science each article in the results list will have "times cited" information. Click on the blue number next to times cited to see a list of the journal articles which cite the original article.

In this example below, the "The importance of temporal resolution in food web analysis..." article has been cited 93 times.

WOS times cited example

Google Scholar for Citation Searching

Google Scholar also provides citation information. The cited numbers may be duplicates of what is provided in Web of Science. Google Scholar also includes some book chapters, conference proceedings, and other documents which aren't included in Web of Science.

(Google Scholar sometimes duplicates citations leading to inaccurate numbers. It is still a good way to find similar articles and to get a general idea of citation numbers, especially for items not in Web of Science.)

Using the Google Scholar advanced search form, and searching for the same article provides this:

The cited by numbers are the same as in Web of Science. Usually the cited numbers from Web of Science and Google Scholar are different.

Searching for Articles in a Specific Journal

Sometimes you may want to search for articles on a topic or subject, but also limit by journal. For example, you may just want articles about food webs in the journal: Ecological Monographs.

The search example below is from CAB Abstracts. To limit your search to journal articles from the journal: Ecological Monographs, you type in the journal name then in the right hand box, select SO Source:


In Web of Science, the search looks very similar (click on "add another field" to add more lines):

Database Help

Many databases use similar languages (AND, OR, quotes, etc.) but they often have different dialects. Check out the help pages for different databases to learn all the tips and tricks to get the most out of each database. Below are some examples (links may only work while on campus):

 · Web of Science search rules, and basic help.

 · PubMed Help.

 · ProQuest Help.

Theses & Dissertations

Looking for theses and dissertations from CSU?  Look in the CSU catalogs (Discovery or SAGE) or in the database Digital Dissertations & Theses.

Looking for theses and dissertations from other universities?  Look in Digital Dissertations & Theses or WorldCat.

Impact Factor and JCR

What is impact factor?

Impact factor (IF) is a measure of a journal's impact, based on the number of times articles have been cited against the number of articles published. Journals with higher impact factors are often deemed to be more important than those with lower ones.

The Journal Citation Reports (JCR) Database is used to find impact factors and more for journals.  JCR lets you view a group of journals by subject category or search a specific journal. 

Journal information includes: total cites, impact factor, 5-year impact factor, and more.

Your Librarian

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Renae Watson
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