The University of Texas

Searching a Database

Now you have formulated your question and chosen your database. The next step is to do the search. For this example we'll use Web of Science.

web of science search screen

  1. Under "More Settings," deselect all databases except for "Science Citation Index Expanded". This is optional, but helps eliminate irrelevant hits from the non-science segments of Web of Science.
  2. Click "Add another field" to create three search boxes. Enter the concepts in the separate boxes. The field designation for all the boxes should be "Topic".
  3. Web of Science does not contain CAS Registry Numbers, so we have to use the common name(s) of our desired analyte: bisphenol-a OR bpa. (The search terms are not case-sensitive.)
  4. Use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard character to retrieve different forms of a keyword: chromatograph* will retrieve chromatography, chromatographic, etc.
  5. Click Search.
  6. Results are listed by default in reverse chronological order, i.e. the newest articles on top. You can switch to Relevance ranking if you prefer. Your search terms are highlighted in the display.
  7. results display

  8. You can refine the results using the filtering options on the left side. For example, you can limit to English language articles with a subject designation "CHEMISTRY ANALYTICAL" by selecting those boxes and clicking "Refine".
  9. refine menu

  10. Scan the article titles and select one that appears to match your topic well.
  11. article record display

  12. Read the abstract. Abstracts are brief summaries of the paper that will help you determine quickly whether the article is worth locating and reading. They save you lots of time.
  13. If you want to get the article, open the Full Text Options menu at the top, and click the find it at u t button. This initiates a search in our local catalog for an electronic version of the journal.
  14. You can go back to Search Results to continue browsing your the list. You can mark and save as many records as you like to review later, or download them into a reference management tool.

If you'd prefer to do your searching in SciFinder (remember, you need to sign up for an account first), it works a little differently. Phrase your research topic question as a natural language query using connecting words and the Registry Number for BPA:

determination of 80-05-7 in water with chromatography

scifinder search screen

proximity selection

You can select the results set that will give you the best relevance (terms closely associated with one another) and the most manageable number of hits. Then click Get References.

The Refine menu to the left allows you to limit results by language, document type, publication years, etc. SciFinder covers publications and patents in many languages, so limiting to English-language journal articles is probably a good idea.

Link to full text of an article using the "Other Sources" button.

results display

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