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McNair Scholars: 6. Search More Strategically

Advanced/Specialized Tips

In addition to searching by keyword or subject, most databases offer you ways to limit your results. Use them to narrow your search to just the articles likely to be most useful. 

You may see limits below the search box(es) BEFORE you run a search

Limits before searching

or limits on the side AFTER you run a search.

Limits after searching

You may even see a Thesaurus to help you choose the best subjects.

Browse Thesaurus

Introduction to Citation Searching

Backward & Forward Searching

Once you have a pivotal article (A), you will find it useful to trace research related to it in order to find more articles that could prove useful to your research. Tracing works two ways:

  • Backwards to find older articles that article (A) cited; and
  • Forwards to find newer articles that cited article (A)

The below video demonstrates how this works in the Web of Science databases, which covers primarily the sciences, but also the arts and humanities, and the social sciences.

Some other library databases have similar features, so be on the lookout for them.

Here are two sample databases that have backward tracing. Under each is brief instructions of what to do when you find an article you like on a list of search results.

  • Sage Journals:
    Click on the "Abstract" link below the citation, scroll down to the references list, select the "Open URL" button for an article or book you want, to see where the UWW Libraries have it. If we don't have it, sign in to request it using ILLiad.
  • ScienceDirect
    Click on the title link, scroll down to the references list, click on the "Google Scholar" link for an article or book you want. If you have Google Scholar set up to work with UWW Libraries' databases (setup instructions on tab 7 Use Databases), click on the "Find It" link or if that isn't there the title link to see where the UWW Libraries have it. If you are in Research@UWW and find that we don't have it, sign in to request it using ILLiad.