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Master in Community Development Policy and Practice (MCD, MACDPP

Approaches to Searching and Finding Related Articles

Use 2 or 3 significant words or terms from your research topic

Develop synonyms and alternative terms

  • Example: teens or youth or adolescents

 Try a broader concept if a specific term doesn't retrieve enough results

  •  instead of brothers, try siblings

Try a more specific aspect or element if you get too many results with a very broad concept

  • instead of Southeast Asia, search specific countries such as  Vietnam, Indonesia or Thailand

Use the connector "and" to retrieve records with all the keywords you list to focus and narrow your results

  • water and Sahara

Use the connector "or" indicate that any one of the terms listed needs to be in the results shown; this usually increases the number of relevant results

  • audience or attendees

Use quotation marks to indicate a phrase

  • "food security"

Use an asterisk * to pick up words with the same stem but different endings

  • regulat* returns regulate, regulating, regulation, regulations, regulatory, regulators

Look for new words or terms to search when reviewing your results or reading the full-text article.

Some specialized databases allow you to limit your search in other useful ways: educational level, age, population group, research methodology, language, etc.

Limiter options vary by database:

  • check the advanced search screen
  • view the limiters to the left or right on the search results page.

Make connections through ideas and concepts rather than specific words

Look at the reference list at the end of a relevant scholarly article or book you found. This may lead you to earlier articles and sources related to your topic. Search the UNH library search box by the title of the article or book see if we have the source online, in print, or if you can request it through interlibrary loan.

Check "Times Cited" or "Cited By" links, if available, in databases such as Worldwide Political Science Abstracts or PsycINFO to identify some newer articles citing the article in the database record. This may lead to related relevant articles.

Use Web of Science to follow citations from published articles to identify older and newer related articles across many disciplinary fields in the sciences, social sciences, and arts & humanities.

Google Scholar is another way to follow citations. Search the title of a relevant article, then click on the "Cited by #" link at the bottom of the entry.

Google Scholar results include "Cited By" links to articles, books, presentations, and more. Note that not all links go to peer-reviewed publications.

Searching by the subjects assigned to articles helps

  • identify articles in which the subject is a main focus and not just not just a passing reference
  • pull together results on same concept even if author uses different terms in title or abstract
    • the subject "capital punishment" will retrieve articles using the term "death penalty" as well as those using "capital punishment"
  • when a keyword may have multiple meanings or a more general meaning
    • the subject "flow (conscious state)" will get more relevant results than just searching the keyword "flow"

Look at the subject terms in records for articles that fit your topic closely and search those subjects for more articles

Use the thesaurus available in some databases to see if your keywords are subjects or if alternative terms are used

  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts uses "Campaign Contributions" as a subject but not "Political Contributions"

What else have the author(s) published on this topic? Search their names in the relevant database or look for their CV (curriculum vita) online.

Subject-specific journals may publish articles on similar topics, so try searching within specific journal titles that you see appearing frequently in your search results.

Develop Search Vocabulary

People in different disciplines or professions can talk about the same topic very differently. This worksheet will help you develop and keep track of research vocabulary.