Skip to Main Content

FW 366: Environmental Contaminants in Fish and Wildlife (Ecampus)

Selecting databases to search

Here are some suggestions for sources to search for research articles.

Searching a Database

Searching a database

The most effective way to search the online databases is to enter terms or keywords that effectively describe your topic.

  • Use broad, meaningful keywords when you search. Don't use sentences or phrases.
  • Use just a few keywords (1-3). You can always add keywords later if you need to refine your search.
  • Use the facets or limits to help refine you search. For example, you can narrow your search by date or by geographic region.
  • When you review your results, look at the abstracts or subject headings for other keywords you can use to improve your search.
  • Be prepared to do several searches. Research is a process that takes time.


Literature Review Basics

Reviewing the information on a topic means exploring sources, finding relevant articles, books and reports, reading them, and then organizing the issues with and approaches to your topic.

You start by searching appropriate databases including GoogleScholar (Google will be much too broad).  You use databases focused on your discipline to save time and to be sure you get at the majority of the information. Check the list of selected databases on this page.

Take an important paper on a species or topic and use Web of Science to find newer papers that cite that paper. This can help you to find more recent work on similar themes. You could use the species account as a starting point in this type of search, or better yet, use a clearly important paper cited in the species account. You can also do this in GoogleScholar, but the results may not be as comprehensive.  Here are the steps.

Tracking Who Cited a Paper:

  • Go to Web of Science.

  • Click on the tab at the top of the screen: Cited Reference Search.

  • Fill in the boxes (Author, Journal TItle and Year) and click on the Search Button.

  • From the list of hits, check the box with the article you want to use.  (Hint: There may be more than one hit for your article, so select them all.)

  • Click on Finish Search.  This will give you a list of all of the articles citing your original article.

  • Email, download or browse the list.


Select a recent paper and use Web of Science to link to all papers referenced by that paper, in case the species account missed something important or you want to discuss research on a similar species that is relevant to your topic.  Here are the steps

Finding What Articles a Paper Cited:

  • Go to Web of Science.

  • Using the paper you have selected, type in the author's last name, date of the article and any other information you have.

  • Click on the Search Button.

  • Click on the title you want from the list of hits.

  • Look closely for References: and click on the number.

  • Email, download or browse the list or references.  You can also click on any of them for more information.

Scholarly Articles: How Can I Tell?