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ENR 3300: Intro to Forestry, Fisheries & Wildlife

Library, research and writing resources for ENR 3300.

Search strategy

Knowing where to find what types of information can save you time and frustration.  Here's a strategy for finding information in the sciences that can help you find the most useful information most efficiently.

1.  Find background information in books or on the web.  Use these materials to help you pick a focus for your topic.  You can find books and chapters in the library catalog.

2.  Find more detailed information on your specific topic in journal articles, conference proceedings, and reports.  You can find articles using research databases.

3.  Supplement these scholarly materials with government and industry reports or news articles, if appropriate. You can find these on the web using a search engine like Google. 

Use books, chapters or sections of books to:

Get background on your topic

Books don't represent the most current research on a topic.  They summarize what is known.  They can help you get a better idea about the big picture of your topic, which will let you understand how the more specific references you find later fit in. 

Help focus your topic

Reading broadly about your topic will help you narrow down what you're interested in.  Writing a brief paper about a broad topic doesn't give you a lot of room to pull together your own ideas.  You'll risk boring yourself and your professor!  Books and chapters can help you pick out the angles of a topic that are most interesting to you. 

Find some significant references

Academic books and chapters will cite the resources the authors used.  You can use their reference lists to find more background information on the aspects of the topic that interest you.

Look for books and chapters in the library catalog

Use the library catalog to search for books, chapters, reports and theses on your topic.  These are materials that OSU owns in print or electronic form.

OSU Libraries home page

 

Supplement this with additional background information you find on the web

Not everything you find on the web will be something you would cite in a paper for class, but it can still help you wrap your head around a topic and learn some terms related to your topic you might not have thought of. 

Read scholarly journal articles for:

  • Research written by scientists for other scientists
  • Narrow focus on specific, potentially recent research projects
  • Work that has been peer-reviewed before publication by other experts in the field
  • Additional resources about the narrow topic of your choosing

Look for journal articles using research databases

Where to find articles at OSU

Are all articles scholarly? Are they all research?

The research databases OSU subscribes to tend to focus on scholarly research articles, but they contain other materials, too.  These may be items from scholarly journals that are not about research projects (editorials, reviews), government reports, news, or popular magazine articles.

Magazine articles Research articles in scholarly/technical journals
- Written for a general audience - Written for experts in the field
- Narrative structure - Follows the IMRAD format
- Don't include references - Always include references
- Reviewed by editors; Not peer reviewed - Peer reviewed

 

The shape of a research paper

Most research articles you find will follow a standard format, sometimes abbreviated IMRAD, for Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion. 

IMRAD format

Use a search engine like Google to find current information on the web that's too new to be in scholarly articles or books. 

Many government and organizational reports are also available on the web.  If you need to learn about environmental projects conducted by federal, state or local governments, or on campuses, you can use Google to help find them.  Tools and tips for searching for reports are in the right column of this page.

Search tips

  • Define your concepts: give your search a title.
  • Think of synonyms and related terms.
  • Identify common and scientific names, plurals, variations.
  • Use truncation (usually an asterisk) to find all terms with the same root:
    • limnolog* returns results that include limnology, limnologist, limnological, etc.
  • Use quotation marks to search for phrases:
    • "weed management" only returns results where the two words are together in that order.

AND

ANDWhen you type more than one word into a database or search engine, AND connects them by default.  AND limits your search, returning only those results that have both of the terms, e.g.,

diversity AND wetlands

OR

OROR expands your search, returning results that include either the first term, the second term, or both.  You can use OR to connect synonyms or alternate terms, e.g.,

oak OR quercus

NOT

NOTNOT limits your search by excluding particular terms.  If you find that a search returns a lot of irrelevant results, you can use NOT to exclude a term found in the irrelevant articles, e.g.,

site NOT web 
(if you’re interested in sites as in locations, not web sites)

Why all caps?

Most search tools ignore the words and, or, and not, because they're present in every English-language article or website.  To let the research database or search engine know that you're giving it a command and not a word it should ignore, put boolean operators in all caps: AND, OR, NOT.

Order of operations

Boolean searching has an order of operations, like math.  Unlike math, the order varies from one research database to another, and you won't always know what the order of operations is.  Fortunately, like math, parentheses come first.  You can group your terms using parentheses so that the database or search engine understands you.

Parentheses

Without parentheses

weed* OR “invasive species” AND wetlands

Looks for “invasive species” AND wetlands first, then adds anything that includes weeds.

This will return a lot of irrelevant results about weeds that have nothing to do with wetlands.

With parentheses

(weed* OR “invasive species”) AND wetlands

Looks for items that include either weeds or invasive species or both, then limits to those that also include wetlands. 

This keeps you from having to sort through many irrelevant results.

Advanced search

Most research databases have an advanced search screen that gives you more than one search box.  The terms within each search box are grouped together as if they were in parentheses, and you can connect the search boxes with boolean operators.

This can be easier to work with than entering all of your terms in a single box.

Search OhioLINK for online or print materials from federal, state or local governments:
   

 


Find government publications in Google by including (site:.gov OR site:.us) in your search.
Find university publications by including site:.edu in your search.
Google Web Search

Google Scholar returns results from journals as well as government reports and industry white pages.
Google Scholar Search

Customize Google Scholar to connect with OSU's holdings.