Literature search strategies

Fellow scientists! I need your help!

I’ve recently been discussing and writing about scientific issues that are slightly tangental to my day job. Only slightly mind, with the upshot that I’ve been doing literature searches where I’m not just updating my knowledge – I’m finding out new stuff. The kind of thing where even defining a search term a priori is difficult.

I know, I know, welcome to climate science, Doug.

I’d really like not to miss anything important, and it strikes me that this becomes more difficult as climate science (and science in general) becomes more atomized, the publication rate goes up, and we simply find out more stuff.

My own literature search strategy has relied heavily on a) Google Scholar, b) asking very knowledgeable colleagues, and c) a bit of luck. Option a) recently failed me slightly, which meant that I had to rely on b) and c).

So my question is: 

What is your best literature search strategy?

Or if you haven’t much time:

What is your best literature search resource?

This might just be one of the perils of interdisciplinary research – not everything you need to know gets published in a few easy-to-search journals. Google scholar is good, because it shows you what cites a paper, and often leads to pdf copies (important if you’re not working in a university).

Leave a comment if you like, or tweet me @dougmcneall


ps, “I’m an AR5 author, and simply get everyone to send me their brilliant new stuff” doesn’t count 🙂





One comment

  1. Rachel · · Reply

    I expect you’ve found it long before now, but in case anyone else is having similar difficulties – ISI Web of Science/ Web of Knowledge is really helpful – I’m afraid it doesn’t normally provide you directly with the pdf version, but you can read abstracts, look at how often the paper has been cited and whether it cites any others that might be useful and a few other things.

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