Hello! These guides are designed to get you started in your information searches. I am available for information research consultations, and can work with you to develop learning experiences that address the information needs of your course or lab group. My work is informed by masters degrees in botany and library science, diverse professional experience in food systems, and ongoing study of evidence synthesis.
This 3 minute video discusses how to:
• Choose an appropriately scoped research topic
• Overcome challenges in your search
• Locate a variety of information sources, including
Courtesy of McMaster University Library
This excellent interactive tutorial by Kennedy Library's GIS and Data Specialist walks you through how to search for data on your topic. The advice will help you approach searching for information in any format, including literature.
This 4 min tutorial shows you how to search well in most databases (courtesy of UCLA Library).
Tip: Each database and platform should have documentation available on how to make best use of these tools. Look for search tips/help buttons within the search interface, or on developer websites or user community forums/blogs.
See database search principles in action in the Web of Science interface. Learn to refine your searches using truncation, search (a.k.a. Boolean) operators, phrase searching, and controlling the order of operations with punctuation.
One of the best ways to start a search is to build out from a relevant resource. This library guide from the University of Toledo walks you through options for finding articles related to each other through citations.
This page links to training resources on how Google searches work, and lists of Google search operators, from Daniel Russell, Google Senior Research Scientist, Search Quality & User Happiness.
Document your search strategy
Save time by recording the searches you've tried, so you can re-run or build on them. This note-taking template (courtesy of Carroll Community College) will get you started documenting your search process.
Tip: It's important to find a process that works for you so you actually use it. As long as you're capturing the needed information, even pasting your search strings into a blank document will do.
This example of a search strategy has been published as part of a review paper, and shows key elements of information to capture about your search.
A reliable way to troubleshoot access issues is to connect to Cal Poly's Virtual Private Network (VPN), available through GlobalProtect. Installation instructions are on the campus ITS website.
Many of the databases you use to find articles are discovery tools only, meaning you will then need to use the records you've found to access the actual documents. The tutorials below present a variety of ways to access full text articles.
Use this form to request to borrow items the library doesn't own/license. If you have a DOI for an article, entering it will fill out the rest of the form automatically. If you're able to find the item in Onesearch, you will find instructions for requesting a loan and will not have to provide as much information.
Each book in a library catalog is usually filed under just a few broad concepts (Food processing and manufacture, for example), which means you often need to infer from the subject and title whether a more specific concept (such as salting) is covered in one of the chapters. Catalog records for electronic books increasingly allow you to search within chapter titles or even full text. Another option is to search in the Google Books collection, which allows you to search the full text of books that have been scanned (often from library collections). Note: if you find a book in Google Books that is still under copyright, you will need to access the full volume (often in print) through your library catalog.
This link leads to the Advanced Search interface, with a filter for Master's Theses selected. To find this option from the main link, under Browse on the right column (green) choose Collections>Research>Student Research>Master’s Theses (under Graduate Research). Choose Advanced search (right). You can change the search field from All Fields to Subject to search for disciplines like nutrition.
When evaluating a particular article as a possible source for your research, it can be helpful to use the criteria and strategies that journals encourage peer reviewers to use. Here is an example from food science. You can find similar guidance on the website of most journals.
This Library guide introduces you to popular resources for creating and interpreting references to sources.
Citation management software can streamline the process of creating a bibliography by allowing you to capture descriptive information about your sources in order to quickly reformat a list of works cited in the style required for your project.
Tip: It is your responsibility to double check imported/auto-generated citations for completeness and appropriate formatting.