Science Seminar: Marsh and Oxley


Hi! And welcome to Dr. Marsh’s and Oxley’s Science Seminar course. As part of your coursework, you are required to use the library’s online databases to find specific types of science articles, specifically Research, Review and Popular/News articles. The purpose of this video is to demonstrate how to do that. First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “the library’s online databases.” The library at Columbia College subscribes to many online databases. These online databases give you special access to thousands of high-quality, credible articles from a variety of sources, such as, but not limited to: Scientific research articles, such as primary literature; Scientific review papers, such as a summary of a research article; and news articles that one might find in a popular magazine. Articles from these types of sources are what you will be expected to find and use in your coursework. It should be stressed that these online databases are very different from the internet. While it’s easy to confuse the term “online database” with “online website,” in reality, the only thing that library databases and websites have in common is that you need a computer with internet access to view both. The quality and credibility of your average dot com website can often stand in stark contrast to the quality and credibility of a vetted journal article from a database. While it’s okay to use the internet to find popular science articles, we strongly recommend that you check with your instructor before using any websites for your research. We recommend using one or more of our EBSCO databases, such as Academic Search Complete and Science Reference Center. To access these databases, point your browser to libguides.columbiasc.edu/library. This will take you to the library’s homepage. From there, click the Databases tab. You will be taken to an alphabetical listing of all of the library’s online databases. Simply scroll down a bit to see the Academic Search Complete database. Academic Search Complete is a multidisciplinary database that contains articles from newspapers, magazines, professional trade journals and peer-reviewed academic journals. It’s a good place to start, but you’ll want to search Science Reference Center as well. To add that database to your search, click on Choose Databases… …And you’ll be taken to a complete alphabetical listing of all of the EBSCO databases to which Edens Library has access. Select Science Reference Center. Notice that Academic Search Complete is already check-marked, because that’s the database through which we entered. Click OK… …And you’ll be taken back to the main search screen. If you rest your cursor over Show all… …You’ll see that the database recognizes that you intend to search Science Reference Center, as well as Academic Search Complete. You’re now ready to start crafting your search. But before you start typing in your search terms, we recommend you check-mark the Full Text box, so that all articles that come up will be available to read in their entirety. When deciding what search terms to type in, we recommend that you keep your search terms simple. Stick with one- or two-word search terms, and avoid whole sentences or phrases. Let’s say your instructor wants you to research the role that proteins play in gene expression. We’ll start with the term “proteins” and see what happens. As you can see, with well over 600,000 results, searching through the results could easily become overwhelming. But not to worry. There are several things we can do to narrow our results and make them more manageable. One of the most effective things you can do would be to add a second search term. Since your instructor wants you to learn about the role of proteins in gene expression, then “gene expression” would be a good term to add. Let’s try it. This give us roughly 90,000 results, which is still a lot – – we have more work to do – but it’s much better than 600, 000. Now, did you notice something else? Something we did with our search terms? We combined our search terms using the connecter “and.” In effect, we’ve told the database we want results that contain *both* terms – proteins AND gene expression. This means that our results will be more narrow and focused than if we just went with the term “proteins.” But what if all you knew was that your instructor wanted you to research “proteins” and they expected you to narrow down the topic on your own? How might we go about that using the search tools available in this database? Fortunately, EBSCO has a couple of tools just for that purpose. They’re called “Subject” and “Subject thesaurus Terms.” To get to these tools, scroll down a little and look on the left-hand side. When you click one of these… …A list of related topics will open up. And when you click Show More… …A huge, scrollable list of more related topics comes up. The number underneath the Hit Count refers to the number of articles available on that particular topic. You can check-mark as many or as few of the topic selections as you like, then click Update… …And the screen will refresh with the new set of results. Once you have narrowed your results by adding a second search term or using the Subject Thesaurus tool, there’s yet another way we can narrow our search results. We can also sort the results by Source Type, which will be helpful given the nature of your assignment. Scroll down a bit and on the left-hand side you’ll see Source Types. (As you can probably tell by now, the left-hand side of your screen in the Results page is the go-to place for modifying and sculpting your search. ) One of the types of articles you’re required to find are popular news and magazine sources. Simply check-mark the appropriate boxes to pull up only those types of articles. You are also required to find scientific research articles, such as primary literature, as well. You can check-mark Journals and Academic Journals to find those. But be sure to look at the full text of each article to make sure you see the tell-tale characteristics of such an article, like an Introduction, Materials or Methods, Results, Conclusion, and Discussion. You are also required to find scientific review papers, which is a *summary* of research articles. So how do you find those? That’s going to take a more nuanced approach. Try the following: Once you have narrowed your results by adding a second search term or using the Subject Thesaurus tool, click on Advanced Search. In the second search box, type the word “review,” then use the Select a Field drop-down menu to select Abstract. Under Limit Your Results, check-mark the Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals box. Also, please note, you may need to re-select Full Text. And you’re ready to click Search. Now, the reason why we’re doing it this way is a bit sneaky. Authors and journal publishers know that they have to be very explicit and to-the-point when they write an abstract for an article. If the article is a scientific review paper or a review of the literature, they’re going to make sure to explicitly state that in the abstract. Knowing this, we can use Advanced Search to focus our search on just those articles. In other words, articles that contain the word “review” within the abstract. As you can see, at just over twenty-five-hundred, our results are much more manageable. On a final note, we’d like to remind you that you can email yourself any article by clicking the email icon. And that concludes our video tutorial on how to use the library’s online databases to find Research, Review and Popular/News articles. Questions? Feel free to email us anytime at [email protected] Or call and speak with a librarian during operating hours at 803-786-3703.