There are two basic ways to find information once you start researching your topic:
Searching by citations is a useful way to find research directly related to your topic. In citation searching you use a work of scholarly literature to find more literature that was cited by that work or cites that work. Citation searching can be done two ways:
Using citations to search for scholarly literature can help you think more broadly about your research topic within the larger discipline, and help you answer the following questions:
Searching within your subject area will give you more specific research that speaks to your own research topic.
When you know your topic and want to explore what else has been written, you will search for articles, books, dissertations, and other types of publications in various databases. It is important and useful to know how different search terms work in databases. Here, we will cover keyword and subject searches.
A keyword search involves typing into the search box the terms that you use when you think about your topic.
A subject or descriptor search means that you have identified (usually through keyword searching and looking at your results) the specific terminology used in a database to talk about your subject.
Subject and descriptor terms tend to be more formal and also more precise (less ambiguous)
A good example is the term teenager. We use that term in everyday speech and authors may use it in their articles, but a database is most likely to assign the subject heading of adolescents.
Browsing is less targeted than searching, but can be good for lucky finds. Sometimes important concepts come from outside of our fields of study. Be open to new ideas while you research, but don’t get too distracted by another topic!