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CHEM 4750: Chemistry Seminar (Samulak): Research & Citation Strategies

Database Search Tips

Quotation Marks vs. AND vs.OR

Before building a search, think about how you want to combine your search terms.

  • Putting words in quotation marks - if you want to search for a phrase rather than individual words, place the words in quotation marks. Example: "coal slurry"
  • Using AND to combine search terms -  when you combine terms using AND, you will retrieve results in which both terms appear somewhere in the fields searched. Example: Coal AND Slurry
  • Using OR to combine search terms - use OR to search for either word, which can broaden your results. Example: "Coal Slurry" OR "Coal Ash"

A Nod to the Asterisk

  • Using an asterisk (*) at the end of a word will bring back variations of the word.
  • Example: chemi* will retrieve results with the words chemical, chemically, chemistry etc.

Subject Headings

If your database results aren't what you expect, try searching the subject heading thesaurus to find which words the database uses & use them in your search. The thesaurus can also help by suggesting, broader, narrower and related terms. Below is an example searching the Applied Science & Technology Source thesaurus

Citing Sources

Anatomy of a citation

ACS citations


Citing your sources is one of the most important steps in doing research.  RefWorks will allow you to store and organize your citations as well as easily create your bibliography/references (whether annotated or not) and final paper in the correct style.  

You can use RefWorks to:

  • Organize references
  • Format bibliographies
  • Create a database of your own citations
  • Import references directly from library databases
  • Insert in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies using the Write-n-Cite tool
  • Share your citations with a group

Research Article Trifecta