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Advanced techniques when searching for literature

In this video you will watch the subject librarian demonstrate how you will proceed with your literature search with more helpful tips.
In the last video we looked at basic searching and in this video we’re going to be looking at more advanced search techniques. So, things like boolean searching, publication date ranges and also how to use Google Scholar more efficiently. For more advanced searching you could consider using boolean logic. These are the words AND, OR and NOT and you can use these terms to link your keywords together in your search. So, for example using our topic area of flooding in Sheffield we could use ‘flooding AND Sheffield’ to find information on both of those terms. So, that will return any articles or any websites that talk about flooding and Sheffield together.
In the previous video when we talked about keywords and thinking of alternative phrases that you can use, this is where you can use your OR boolean operator. So for example we’ve got here ‘flood resilience OR flood risk management’ and this will return us any information that talks about flood resilience or flood risk management or both of those things together. The last one is NOT and you do have to be a little bit careful using this one because sometimes it might mean that you miss out on information that would have been useful but I’ve used the example here of ‘Sheffield NOT United States’ because there is another Sheffield in the United States.
So, this just allows us to get rid of anything that would come up regarding that Sheffield and not the Sheffield in the UK, that’s the one that we want to find. There are other considerations that you can think of as well to really focus in on your search and make sure that you get the most relevant information for you. The first one is looking at things like the publication date range. Now, you can limit your search so that it only brings you the most up-to-date info. You might not want to look at things that are maybe 10, 20 years old as they might not be the most relevant to you at this time.
You can as well use Google Scholar to check how many citations an article has and this gives some idea of the impact of an article. So, for example we have this top article here. Where it says ‘Cited by 35’ that’s just how many other people have used this particular piece of research in their work. If we click on ‘Cited by 35’ it will then give us a list of all 35 of those articles. This is a really useful way to find more relevant information without actually doing a physical search for it, but it’s also useful because the size of that number can sometimes give you an indication of how impactful a piece of research was.
In this video, Holly returns to give you some further guidance on how best to use the internet to locate literature.
It is important, when first engaging with your literature search, that you carefully define the topic that you wish to address. This will help to articulate search topics that will narrow down your search.
Initially it may be a good idea to do some general reading to familiarise yourself with the subject area. This will help you identify parallel or similar fields of research that may inform your topic or question. It will also help you define the desired scope of your question.
As you narrow down your search, it may be useful to think about the relevant time frames that you intend to search in. This may be of particular use if your identified topic contains a lot of potential material in a fast-moving field.
As you proceed with your review of the literature, it is important to keep in mind your own question so that this develops and becomes more informed as you progress.


As you proceed with your review, it is likely that you will quickly amass a considerable volume of resources. It is therefore important that you engage in housekeeping at an early stage.
Naming and storing your resources in a systematic manner will make it far easier to return to your resources at a later date.
This can be done using files and folders for paper resources or, as is more likely the case these days, a folder tree on a PC. However you are storing your literature, you should record a map of how your storage is structured to aid recall.
When storing content on a PC, you may find it easier to make use of a referencing tool of which there are many commercially and freely available. It is worth taking time to consider carefully what you plan to use, as once you have started it is often difficult and time consuming to change platforms.
As well as general searches making use of search engines, you may also find several other potential sources. A selection of some that you may find of use for Emergency and Disaster Management includes:
Finally, as you review material, you should write systematic notes on each resource to help you highlight the important points that each contains. You may think that you can remember the content of articles when you begin, but as your resources mount up this will become increasingly difficult to track.

Your task

Given your proposed research question, what would you use as potential search functions or keywords to narrow your search?
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Researching Risk, Disasters and Emergencies

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