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Animal Welfare & Behavior Library Guide

Head,Veterinary Libraries

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Margy Lindem
Hill Pavilion
380 S. University Ave.,
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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Tutorials to help with your searching

Search steps

  1. Define your research question or questions
  2. Determine key concepts and identify search terms and operators (iterative)
    • subject headings and textwords - use as building blocks in your search
    • operators and limiters, phrase, truncation and wildcards
    • field searching
  3. Choose sources
    • multidisciplinary databases for scoping searches
    • research databases
    • grey literature and statistics
  4. Review and manage results
    • keep a simple search log noting databases you've searched, the search strategy for cutting and pasting, etc.
      • keep a concept table - grid of synonymous text words and subject headings for each concept in your research question
    • save search strategies (into search log or create an account in the database.
      • can be used to alert you to new articles or to reduce redundancy with new searches using the NOT operator)
    • save relevant citations -
      • use the database's temporary folder/clipboard feature to set aside articles you want to review in more detail when you skim results for relevancy. 
      • Download those to retain to a citation manager optimized to automatically download the PDFs
    • find full text - citation managers can automate much PDF retrieval, and even rename your PDFs with consistent titles
    • share and annotate - if working on a group project, citation managers allow you to annotate and share your citations and some share PDfs


Moving from a known article

building a search from a known article

  • Author keywords may be available.  Most specialty databases (PubMed, CAB Abstracts, PsycINFO, etc.) will have subject heading thesauri
  • Use GoogleScholar, Scopus and Web of Science to find citing articles.  Google Scholar Button simplifies this.
  • Similar Articles/Related Articles can be based on subject headings or, in databases without subject headings like Scopus and Web of Science, based on co-citation.  See article in PubMed
  • Use Scopus and Web of Science to review references for articles (and download them), even if the full text is not available
  • Look at Acknowledgments in the article or the Grants Sponsor field to see who funded the research, and may have funded similar projects

Checking peer-review status

The most reliable way to check peer-reviewed status is to read the journal's Instructions to Authors.  If you are on the journal article's site click the journal title name.  A section like About this Journal might note peer-review but the Instructions to Authors should give details about whether some articles are solicited and reviewed only by an editor and some are peer-reviewed.

Quick methods that may overlook that some journals have solicited review articles are to:

  • look up the journal name in Ulrichsweb database of periodicals

ulrichsweb refereed status icon

  • paste the article title into Franklin Articles+.  If it is indexed look for the Peer-reviewed indicator (this platform uses Ulrichs to identify whether the journal is considered refereed.

franklin articles plus peer-reviewed indicator

Research author affiliations and credentials

The article will usually indicate the authors' affiliation, sometimes by department and sometimes include the degrees and specialty certification designations.  The text of the paper may describe the expertise of the team members.  Sometimes there will be a link to the author's Scopus record which will give an overview of the author's affiliation, publications and the number of times articles have been cited.  Looking at the author's institution directory can often provide details about role, education, positions, department, etc.

The article may also describe any author's conflicts of interest.

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