BIOL1050 Database Basics

Uploaded by mjdelia on 19.10.2012

BIOL 1050: Database Basics
Hi my name is M.J. and I’m one of the librarians here at the University of Guelph. This short
tutorial is designed to give you a quick overview of database basics. To demonstrate we’re
going to use a general journal article search engine provided by ProQuest.
This tutorial will take less than six minutes and it will help you with your final lab for
Biology 1050. At the end of this video you should be able to: search a database with
keywords, understand the results list, limit or filter your results, and, ultimately, get
access to the articles you need.
The first thing you need to do is have a close look at the topic you’re researching. Let’s
say I’ve been assigned to the topic of “apple thinning.” I’m going to be honest with
you; I’m not a plant biologist. I don’t know anything about this topic. Fortunately,
I know where to start.
I’m going to begin with the library home page. Since I know that this assignment specifies
the need for journal articles, I’m going to go ahead and click the “journal articles”
link here on the home page.
On this page, I find the General Journal Article search box here powered by ProQuest and it’s
begging me to use it. Since I’ve already said I don’t know much about my topic, I’ll
just start with words that came directly from my topic statement and we’ll just go with
“apple thinning” and see what happens.
You’ll note that I ran my search on the Library page, but the interface changes once
we get inside the ProQuest database. Let’s take a quick tour of the results page and
we’ll just start at the top here.
So the first thing to notice is that I’m actually searching 37 different databases
– this isn’t everything that the library owns, but it’s a helpful cross-section to
get started.
You’ll also notice that I retrieved around 4000 results – ah, which is a lot, but we’ll
deal with that in a second.
Also at the top you can see that the database has tried to suggest some subject searches
for me based on my keywords. And I’m just taking a quick scan... I don’t see a lot
that will be that useful to me, so I’m going to move on from there.
On the right side you can see my results are sorted by relevance, which is similar to any
internet search engine. And you’ll see some tools here on the margin that I might be able
to slice and dice my results into smaller sets. These are useful, but we don’t need
them right at this second.
And in my actual results list, I’m getting not only the articles, but I’m getting where
my words appear. So I get my words in context, which gives me a better sense of how good
my search actually was.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to read 4,000 results on apple thinning. So
one of the first things I need to do is refine my results a little. One actually simple strategy
within the ProQuest database is to limit my results to peer reviewed articles. And typically,
peer reviewed articles are going to be more acceptable for academic papers.
If I look at my result set, I’m down from over 4000 to just over 400 and I’ll take
that any day.
Now I think it’s safe to take a closer look at my results, by scanning through some of
the titles. And again, some of these titles are familiar they were on the previous page.
But just looking slowly through what I see, there are some good options. So at any point
I can open one up. For instance here, and read the abstract and find out more about
this particular article. And this will help me determine whether my search was precise
and on track or whether I maybe need to change my keywords.
Let’s say that I’m generally happy with the results that I’m finding. Now I just
need to get the full articles.
The nice thing about the ProQuest system if I scroll through I’m going to find some
articles where the full text – or the entire article – is right here in the database.
And you can see it here, if I wanted this first one, there’s my link. Just download
the PDF and I can print it, or save it, or do whatever I need to do with it.
The real question comes when I find a great article that isn’t easily linked in the
database. What do I do with that? So as I was scanning these titles, I liked this sixth
one here: “Developments in the chemical thinning of apple and pear.” And I note:
where’s my full text link? So rather than get frustrated and not be able to download
it, my option here is I can click the “Get it Guelph” button and initiate a search
to see if maybe we have this article in some other collection.
I’ll get to a page like this and fortunately, in this case, I can get my full text or my
full article from two different sources: from either Scholars Portal or the Canadian Research
Knowledge Network. So I’m going to click Scholars Portal and if everything works I’m
going to end up directly at the page with the article – and there’s my PDF.
As you can see, in just a few minutes, I’ve searched a database with some keywords, filtered
my results, and downloaded some helpful articles. Now all I have to do is read the stuff...
This brings us to the end of the database basics video. Thanks for watching. If you
need any help with this assignment, drop by the Ask Us desk in the library or visit us
online. We’re here to help!