How to Read a Scientific Article
An excellent overview of how to read an article - includes a template for taking notes.
By Mary Purugganan, Ph.D. and Jan Hewitt, Ph.D. of Rice University
Searching for Articles
There are two keys to successful searching:
1. Using the right words
2. Using the right tool (database).
The Right Words
When searching for articles in a database, you will need to identify a number of keyword search terms to use based on your topic.
If your topic was impact of school lunch programs on rates of childhood obesity, the following keyword search terms would be useful:
school lunch programs
Using the * at the end of the root word (for example, child*) will tell the database to find the word, the plural form, and any related words with different suffixes (e.g, child, children)
Next, you need to combine these search terms with connectors to create a search statement to use in the database. You will want to create several different search statements to use for searching.
Here are some search statement examples:
school lunch programs AND obesity AND child*
(impact* OR effect*) AND school lunch programs AND obes*
TIP You won’t want to enter a phrase (such as 'how do school lunch programs influence rates of childhood obesity') in the search box of the database or index, because the database will not be able to understand it and you won't get any results. Remember to pick out the important words for your topic and use AND/OR to combine them into a search statement.
The Right Tool
It is equally important to use the right database to search for articles. The databases listed below are appropriate for searching for articles for the scientific paper assignment. Make sure you select the database that is most appropriate for your topic, and keep in mind that you may need to use more than one database to find articles.
PubMed comprises more than 24 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.
Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles. Search results may be from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. Help setting Library Links to access Cal Poly resources is available here.
CAB Abstracts provides research information on agriculture and related applied life sciences, including Agriculture, Animal Health, Forestry, Human Health and Nutrition, and Natural Resources Management. Global Health from CABI is the definitive international public health database.