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Dental Science: Beginning Research

How to find and research resources for the dental sciences

Research Procedure

Procedure for effective searching:

  • Determine the broad topic.
    • Write down the words you associate with that topic.  These will be Keywords.
    • You may discover that there are search terms (keywords or key phrases) that work better than this term in finding information. 
    • You have to do preliminary research to do effective research.
  • Identify related topics associated with the topic by browsing a variety of sources (related topics will help to generate more keywords to use to narrow the search, that is, to make the search results more specific):
    • Internet.
    • Books.
    • Electronic books.
    • Library reference databases.
    • Library periodical databases.
  • Turn your topics into effective search terms.
    • Decide if your search term is a commonly used phrase, e.g., “global warming,” or two separate ideas, e.g., “internet” and “history.” 
    • Combine terms.  Why combine terms?
      • Combining terms is a step in Boolean algebra.  See the Boolean Machine for visual examples of Boolean searches.
      • Some databases supply the AND for you.  Read search suggestions or HELP before searching a database.
      • Or combine phrases,using the command AND, e.g., “global warming” AND “fossil fuels.”
        • Combine terms to reduce the number of retrieved items.
        • Combine terms to make the search more relevant.
    • Keep track of which terms you have used and whether they were successful.
      • Write the search terms down.
  • Identify credible sources, that is, reliable sources. 
    • See our links on evaluating the credibility of web sites for more information.
    • Library databases are purchased because they provide a greater likelihood of finding credible sources than an open search on the World Wide Web.
  • Browse results of your search at each stage to determine if you have found relevant sources.  Retrieved items do not have to be perfect!  You can use relevant portions.
  • Be sure to write down which documents you have used, if you have not made a print out or obtained a copy.
  • If necessary, modify your search term(s) and try again.
  • Ask the librarian for help.

Research Methods

  • Begin your search with the "Library Smart Search" on the Library's web site. 
  • When you go to the individual databases,if your selected database does not support Boolean searching, use your most important keyword as your search ter
  • If your selected database supports Boolean searching, arrange your unique keywords with "and" between them.  This tells the computer that each unique term must be in all of the items in your retrieval list,
    • ​For instance gum disease and nursing.  Both concepts must be in each item retrieved.
      • In many databases there will be an advanced feature that will help you do this.
      • Save, printout or download items of interest for future analysis.
  • Substitute synonyms or terms related to your keywords for your keywords.
  • each time you change your search terms, you change the items in your retrieval list.  This makes your research much more thorough
  • To improve efficiency use "or" to combine synonyms and related terms.
    • Use the Advanced feature of the database, if available, to help you do this.
    • For example (gum disease or periodontal disease) and nursing. "Or" phrases are  always encased in parentheses.
    • You can even put 2 "or" phrases together to shorten your search time. (cardiovascular disease or heart disease) and (nursing or nurses).
    • Remember to save, printout or download the items you wish to keep for further analysis.