The Library is Your Friend
After you have a better understanding of your topic it is time to leave Google behind and dive into the library databases. Databases searching usually isn't as straight forward as with Google, but they offer you more control over your search and provide you with more relevant information.
Remember to look for the button when searching the library website, databases, or Google Scholar to help you get to the full-text of articles.
General Databases for Agriculture Resources
To find recommended databases for your subject area click on the appropriate Subject Specific Resources tab in the menu. Listed below are databases that would be useful for most agriculture topics.
Database Searching Tips
Database searching is different from Google searching.
- Break your topic into key words or phrases
- Combine with AND to get fewer results (soil AND worms)
- Combine with OR to get more results (soil OR dirt)
- Try different searches using a different combination of your words and phrases
- As you skim your results look for new words, phrases, and ideas that relate to your topic
- Keep trying! Searching often takes time and requires trying multiple searches in a few different databases
- Ask for help
When searching in databases you can use limits (normally on the left or right of your search results page) to focus on specific formats, publication years, etc.
Searching Library Databases
Science literature is always changing. Looking at older articles can help you get an understanding of what you are interested in, and learn about the history. Make sure to look for recent articles to get the most up-to-date information. You can limit your search results by date in almost all databases.
1. Think about your search strategy. This will save you time in the long run. Break your topic into concepts and keywords.
Example: If you are interested in gene silencing uses in tomatoes, break that into concepts and think of different ways to express those concepts (synonyms, scientific names, etc.):
2. Use Database language to search.
Boolean logic (AND, OR, NOT) and other database search "language" can allow you to have more control over your search. See the table below for the most common "tricks" that work in most databases.
Most databases also have a help section to explain how to best search in that particular database. Look for that.
Google/Google Scholar vs. Library Databases
Library databases are NOT free sources. The information in the databases is well-organized, carefully selected, and in many cases, peer-reviewed. Library databases give you more control over your searching, allowing you to broaden or focus your search as necessary. Google instead searches the surface of the open web, making it difficult to find quality information.
Google Scholar promotes itself as a resource that provides one-stop shopping for scholarly literature. It searches across many disciplines and covers a wide variety of resources, including journal articles, theses, books, abstracts, and more. Although Google Scholar is aimed at the academic community, it uses a very broad definition of "scholarly literature." Remember that the content isn't free or necessarily available in full-text. If you find an article you like, you may have to pay for it. You can customize Google Scholar to display the button so you can access some articles for free.
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