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How do I find articles on a particular topic?

Step 2. Formulate your Query

Choosing your search terms and combining them into a logical query is a critical step. If you do this poorly, you'll get poor results. Databases are only as good as the questions you ask them!

The first thing to do is separate your question into its component concepts. Say you're interested in a procedure to determine Bisphenol-A in water using chromatography. That's three distinct concepts:

  1. Bisphenol-A (synonym: BPA) - the analyte
  2. water - the matrix
  3. chromatography - the method

(In analytical chemistry, questions often parse into related analyte, matrix, and method concepts that are easy for a human to understand, but hard for a computer to relate intelligently. So you'll often get false hits that contain these terms, but the terms turn out not to be related to each other in the way you'd like.)

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