Blog Assignment #5

List potentially important keywords and phrases for finding information about your topic in proprietary scholarly databases. Be sure to include synonyms, broader terms, and narrower terms. You can use the terms you generated for class and recorded on your worksheet.
As usual, reflect on the process: Which of these keywords are most useful? Which need truncating? Which need quotation marks around them? Also, how is your research going in general?

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  1. Initial terms: space, independent, settlement
    Synonyms for SPACE: outer space, solar system, off-earth, off earth, extra-terrestrial, extra terrestrial, deep space, cosmos
    Synonyms for INDEPENDENT: self-sustaining, self sustaining, self-contained, self contained, self-sufficient, self sufficient, quasi-independent, quasi independent, autonomous, standalone, self-supporting, self supporting, self-regulating, self regulating.
    Synonyms for SETTLEMENT: establishment, colony, space station, community, commune, satellite (this one will return a lot on un-manned stuff – don’t want that, so usefulness is limited)
    The database Compendex returns a huge amount of extremely technical material when searched with this string. Since I am looking for more conceptual material, I tried searching the database Academic Search Premier with much better results.
    The term space station proved troublesome when used in Compendex because space stations already exist. The literature deals with space stations as they are: limited, small, and entirely dependent on earth, so the material returned by “space station” is mostly useless to my topic.

    • Tria Metzler
    • February 25th, 2007

    Through trial and error, I found the best search statement to be: (pet or animal) and (clon* or genetic engineer* or copy or biotechnology) and (animal rights or welfare). While this search produces numerous articles that are not particularly helpful, it also collects resources that my previous search of ?pet cloning? or ?pet cloning ethics? omitted. However, an interesting side note is that while the new search produces more articles, they are almost all articles I have already found but through a different search method. So far, I have gathered resources through Google Scholar, Academic Search Premier, World Cat and other databases such as AGRICOLA, CAB Abstracts, and Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. By making my search statement broader, each site is now retrieving more resources than before, but they are all basically the same sources. Thus broadening my search statement did not provide me with any more resources than I had previously. I would venture to guess this is because my topic is fairly new and thus I have finally reached the boundaries of the applicable literature about it.
    However, this was more encouraging than discouraging in that I was glad to see I had already found so many of the most applicable sources. If I need to find any more, I can always use the bibliographies of the sources I already have, as well as the NCSU library, to find a few more if necessary. At this point, I am fairly certain I have all the resources I need to write a strong paper on the topic.
    Also the difference between the articles I found on-line and the books I located in the NCSU library is very implemental. The on-line articles are obviously more recent and provide up-to-date information such as research results and statistics. Most of these sources are based more on fact than opinion of the author. On the other hand, the books I found both through on-line searches and the NCSU library are not as recent but contain many opinions posed by the well-informed authors that are backed up with evidence, most of which is still relevant though the book was published five to ten years ago. Two examples of these books are Controversies in Science and Technology (Kleinman, Daniel Lee, Abby J. Kinchy, and Jo Handelsman. Controversies in science and technology : from maize to menopause. Science and technology in society. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press. 2005.) and Crafting a Cloning Policy (Bonnicksen, Andrea L. Crafting a cloning policy : from Dolly to stem cells. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. 2002.) One of the articles providing useful statistical information is Home & Family: Pet Cloning Sparks Backlash (Regalado, Antonio. “Pet Cloning Sparks Backlash.” Wall Street Journal – Eastern Edition 245.29 (2005): D6.) found through a search of World Cat a few weeks ago.
    An exception to this comparison and a not-so-useful source is the book ?The Cloning Sourcebook? (Klotzko, Arlene Judith. The Cloning Sourcebook. Oxford ;; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.). This book presents a lot of statistical information and research on how the process of pet cloning is accomplished. However, as the book was published in 2001, these statistics and processes are basically out of date, and the book does not provide directly useful information, although I might be able to use the book for comparison as to how far the pet cloning procedure has advanced.

    • Dylan Selinger
    • February 25th, 2007

    Initial Terms: Risk, Leisure, Motivation
    Synonyms for Risk: Danger, adventure, peril, hazard, jeopardy, threat
    Synonyms for leisure: Recreation, hobby, pastime, exercise, play, sport
    Synonyms for Motivation: incentive, inspiration, drive, psychology
    (risk or danger or adventure or peril or hazard or jeopardy or threat) and (leisure or recreation or hobby or pastime or play or sport) and (motiv* or incentive or inspiration or drive or psychology)
    My database has given me plenty of articles, however most are not full text which is very frustrating for me. Im not sure what I will do about this, but hopefully I can find enough full text ones to get the information I need. So far, I have not done too much research, but I have found a few articles which have given me some ideas to think about, and some new keywords and topics to search on. I will just have to sit down soon and implement them. I think that speaking with my expert will help me with the direction and acquisition of my research immensely.

    • Myra Fulp
    • February 25th, 2007

    My research question: Is pandemic Avian Influenza an imminent threat to the United States, and, if so, what measures should be taken to prevent a devastating pandemic similar to the 1918 Spanish Influenza?
    Avian flu: “Avian Influenza” “Avian Flu” “Bird Influenza” “Bird Flu” “Pandemic flu” “Pandemic influenza” “H5N1 virus” “H5N1 Influenza” “H5N1 flu”
    United States: USA, United States of America, America, North America
    Threat: hazard, health risk, risk, danger
    Database: Proquest Historical Newspapers, New York Times 1851-2003
    I am looking in this database for reports on how the pandemic spread in chronological order and how health officials dealt with the spread of the pandemic as it progressed throughout the United States. During this time, the illness was only called Spanish Influenza or Spanish Flu. I found that the best search string was “Spanish Influenza” OR “Spanish Flu” with articles dating after 1917. These words need to be in quotations or else articles would pop up talking about normal seasonal flu or articles relating to spanish topics.
    Database: PubMed
    The best search string for this database is Avian AND (Influenza OR Flu) AND (United States OR USA OR America OR United States of America OR North America) AND (threat OR hazard OR risk) This turned up 53 results, all of which are relevant to my topic and are published by health professionals. If I add the word virus to the search I get a lot of irrelevant results, the first couple of entries were about West Nile virus. If I include H5N1, the name of the flu strain, I get a lot of extremely specific scientific articles that talk about the flu on the molecular level and the articles are not relevant to answering my question.
    Database: Academic Search Premier
    When I search this database using (Avian OR H5N1) AND (Influenza OR Flu OR virus) AND (United States OR USA OR America OR United States of America OR North America) AND (threat OR hazard OR risk) and limit only to peer reviewed articles I get approximately 80 relevant articles. If I use the search string that I used for the PubMed database then I get much fewer sources.
    Overall, I feel that choosing a new direction for my research has helped me. Also, I feel that learning the proper way to do keyword searching has helped me enormously. Before I would do key word searches with each possible combination of words which would make database searching a laborious and time consuming task. I have also found contacts with local health officials involved with state planning in the event of a pandemic and I was wondering how I might incorporate and use their information as a human source in my paper.

    • Meagan Stewart
    • February 25th, 2007

    The three main keywords that I was using to start my search on most databases were: neurodegeneration, Alzheimer?s disease, and cause. Using the thesaurus feature on Compendex and using related key words on Web of Science and NCSU?s catalog, I found many ways to broaden and narrow my search.
    I did not find any direct synonyms for Alzheimer?s disease, but I was able to broaden my search by using these terms: brain diseases, genetic disease, genetic disorder, hereditary disorder, senile dementia, and neurodegenerative diseases. All of these terms broadened my search a great deal, but lot of the abstracts specifically mentioned Alzheimer?s disease, which was reassuring that my search wasn?t becoming too broad.
    For neurodegeneration, I discovered a lot of similar keywords that I was unaware of: nervous system, nerve atrophy, nerve deterioration, DNA, neurobehavioral disorders, brain degeneration, neuroscience. Most of these alternative phrases gave me more search results, and they were about equally specified to my topic as neurodegneration was.
    For causes, I found only a few synonyms that were helpful: source, origin, root, generator. They did help in generating more search results, but the works that resulted were not on topic? in one search I did only 3 out of 26 were actually applicable or in some way related to my topic.
    I truncated Alzheimer?s disease with alzheimer* because I feel that adding the apostrophe could show a lot of my potential sources. Also, I tried to truncated neuro with neuro* because it can have so many different endings that it can broaden what I find. I have not been using quotation marks because I am not looking for a specific phrase or string or words. I feel that using quotes would eliminate some potentially useful sources.
    Using Boolean operators, I found that using ?or? didn?t give me results that were very on target with what I wanted when I did it without an ?and? term as well?I searched nerve deteroration or cause, and it wasn?t very specific. Using ?and? cut down on the results I got back, but the sources that were returned were more useful. Through experiments with all the different keywords I found, the most useful was brain and alzheimer*, as well as (nerve deterioration or neurodegeneration) and alzheimer*. Both these searches found a lot of interesting articles I had not seen before.
    Using the new keywords has broadened my results a lot, which is a good thing, and a bad thing: I have found more useful resources, but I also have a lot more sorting through to do. I am finding a lot of articles, but the majority of them are not full text which is very frustrating. A lot of the results I get on Web of Science don?t even have the option for full text. The next step in my search process is to compile all of the articles I have found that aren?t full text and go find all of them in library and see if they are really useful?I think this will be the determining step in how my research question evolves.

    • Amy Stepp
    • February 25th, 2007

    My topic is “Using Cell Lysis for Cell Separation.” So, in trying to narrow that down to the way I want to apply that topic to my paper, I came up with three concepts: cell lysing, cell separation, and (possibly) microfluidics. My subject is a mildly technical one, so coming up with synonyms, affiliated concepts, or appropriate search techniques for things that already seem specific was difficult. Here goes:
    Cell lysing: Red blood cell lysing, Lyse cells, Lys*, Effects of lysing, Lysis
    Cell Separation: Separation technology, Separation
    Microfluidic: Microfluidics, Microfluid*
    After experimenting with several combinations, I feel that the search statement that provided the most accurate results was: “microfluidic” and “lysing”
    I am still having trouble marriaging the two concepts of microfluidics and cell lysis. This exercise, however, gave me a better idea of how to better utilize search words in my effort. I had never really experimented with the different rules of search shorthand and, to be honest, I have never really budged on my choice of keywords. As we move through the process and gain the right tools for research, the process becomes easier and more meaningful. Now that I know the right database to use and can figure out a good search strain, I can find articles that really interest me and excite me about my topic. It’s always nice to find an article that can give you some insight.

    • Patrick Proctor
    • February 25th, 2007

    Research Question: Do diagnostic CT scans increase one’s risk of developing cancer? If so, to what extent? Is there a maximum safe dosage level?
    Because my research question is about the causal link between CT scans and cancer, I needed to choose keywords that include not only CT scans and cancer, but also some representation of the causal link.
    Keywords:
    CT, Computerized Tomography, Computer-Assisted Tomography, Computer* Tom*
    Cancer, Tumor
    Risk, Caus*, Correlat*, Develop*
    The term Computer* Tom* requires quotation marks around it in some search interfaces, because many sources include the words “computer” and “tomography,” but do not refer to the CT procedure.
    After experimenting with different combinations of these keywords, it seems like the term “tumor” does not show up in any useful results, and excluding it does not significantly affect my result list. I will probably leave this term out of my future searches. I am having a lot of trouble making sure that my search results include the desired causal link between CT scans and cancer. The trouble is not the choice of keywords, but the fact that CT scans are very often used to evaluate patients who are considered high risk for developing cancer. Because of this, I end up with the vast majority of my results referring to the use of CT scans on cancer patients. So far, I have not been able to isolate the relationship that I want, that is, CT scans causing cancer. I end up with result lists hundreds of sources long, and I just have to sift through them all. This is the biggest problem in my research process so far. Other than that, everything is going well. I am still able to find plenty of sources.

    • Nikki Harris
    • February 25th, 2007

    Since my research question is exploring the relationship between El Nino and global warming in North America over the past 20 years, I found the three main concepts to be global warming, El Nino, and North America. Using the database of Meterological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts, I was able to use the helpful descriptors to narrow and expand my search.
    Descriptors for global warming: greenhouse effect, climatic changes, and global temperature changes
    Descriptors for El Nino: El Nino phenomena, ocean circulation, El Nino Southern Oscillation, natural disasters, El Nino Current
    Descriptors for North America: This one is a little tricky. Since I am looking for events that have occured in North America, the following work-precipitation, temperature, climatic data, and flooding that occured NA. I can also use United States, USA, and even Canada and Middle America.
    For changes, I will need to use truncation and also for disaster. But generally, I don’t need to do too much to my keywords because my database is very specific, and they make things messy in google. THe most useful are greenhouse effect, El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), ane the various event keywords to use for North America. These keywords are more to narrow my search, and it is hard to get much broader than EL Nino, global warming, and North America since my topic is pretty specific.
    I found this database to be very useful because of its desripotrs. These helped me alot in my searching. I can also modify my keywords by using astricts when necessary. But with all the descriptors and the original main concepts, I have been able to do good searches. I am finding useful info for my topic in my database and also many useful articles in google scholar.
    My research is still going pretty well. I am surprised, but I actually have someone to interview! I thought it would be hard to find someone, since I am researching a topic in which I know no professors and researchers. But I sent a few email, got one back, but the professor is in India right now, so I have to wait till after spring break to interview him. Now I just really have to narrow my search and get all my materials together.

    • Genevieve Pike
    • February 25th, 2007

    I summarized my topic as: What are different replacements for sodium sulfide in the kraft pulping process and why are have they not been applicable for industrial uses?
    My initial terms were: pulping, sodium sulfide, and replacement.
    Synonyms for pulping: liberating fibers, papermaking
    Synonyms for sodium sulfide: Na2S, kraft, chemical pulping
    Synonyms for replacement: substitute, alternative, alternate
    Using my particular database, PaperChem, the results were good and relevant for the most part. But typing in the entire string to search, I was not able to limit my search to journal articles only. However, I was able to sort through the results easy enough.
    I was not thrilled with the results produced from my search string in Academic Search Premier. A great majority of the results had absolutely nothing to do with the pulping process. However, they did allow me to narrow my results with the term lignin, and that helped a lot.
    I am looking forward to spring break so I can actually sort through all my sources and evaluate them for relevancy. Overall, I am enjoying the process so far and I am looking forward to what is to come.

    • Diana Tysinger
    • February 26th, 2007

    I am researching the possible uses of Fullerenes and which of those is the most promising and best candidate. My main search terms are ?Fullerene? and ?Buckminster Fullerene.? Many articles do not separate fullerenes and carbon nanotubes, so searching ?Fullerene* or ?Carbon Nanotubes? ? often produces better results. Filtering though the results for ones with applications proves to be harder. Using additional terms such as ?use* or appl* (for applications, applies, etc.) or purpose? help narrow down the results. Sometimes adding ?commercial? to ?use or application? will give desirable results, but more often than not it only brings up articles on the large scale production of fullerenes which usually contain little useful information for what I am particularly researching.
    I am finding more and more of the articles that I want are not available in full text from the library and that is frustrating. I could put in a Tripsaver request but I usually am not sure if the article would be particularly helpful unless I actually am able to read more that only the abstract so I generally continue searching. It is also becoming frustrating that many of the articles are in such technical language that I cannot understand everything that is being said. Most of those articles though are not particularly helpful in discovering uses but more about what research has been done using the fullerenes and little about what that research means in a practical sense.

    • Amber Joyner
    • February 26th, 2007

    My initial search terms were: NAFTA and politics and industr*
    Some substitutions for “NAFTA” included: “free trade”, “international commerce”,
    Substitutions for “politics” include: “political economy”, grassroots, ideolog*
    Substitutions for “idustr*” are: manufactur*, business, product*
    Several of the terms need truncating in order to insure, for example, forms like industry, industries, industrial, industrialization all get included in the search. Terms like “free trade” and “international commerce” are put in quotations to search the entire phrase rather than the separate words within the database. This exercise was very helpful because it brought up a lot of information using the substitutions that I never would have found under my original search terms. Sometimes, the resulting articles are more broad than my topic but many times they deal directly with the issue, simply in different terms. As a result, I have found many helpful articles through this exercise.

    • Adam Nock
    • February 26th, 2007

    The best terms for my topic are math, high school,secondary, model, and theory. I had to drop several terms because my search was much too exclusive. I had to drop the names of subjects in math such as trigonometry, geometry, and algebra. These terms have not been as helpful as I expected but I have found some new sources with them.

    • Joseph Barton
    • February 26th, 2007

    Based on my research question, the three concepts I could start off with are fibers, composites, and space elevator. Two of those would be fundamental is searching for a material to use, and the third would be fundamental in finding the specifications needed for the material.
    The word ?fiber? has many synonyms, but fiber is the most common name used to describe singular textile components. So other words to use would be items consisting of or make up fibers such as: yarns, fabrics, polymers, cords, lines, filaments, etc.
    The idea of a composite is very broad. Searching for what people have made using composites is not limited to the textile uses, but spans all material science. Synonyms include: aggregate, alloy, mixture, blend, combination, complex, intricate, compound, conglomeration, accumulation, etc.
    Searching for space elevator stuff from NASA has been challenging because there are many articles on the ?elevator effect? that astronauts feel. The challenge comes from the fact that there are not many synonyms that describe the project. Some non-technical literature have called it stairway to heaven and a lift to outer space, but the articles I have found that seemed more authoritative have just called it the space elevator.
    The above terms are broad, so I plan to use some techniques we learned in class to improve my search. The term ?fiber? can also be stated as fibrous and fibers. I may have to use the search term fib* when including fiber in my string. ?Composite? and its many synonyms are very broad indeed. I am going to have to include some descriptive words to narrow this idea down. Using the research I have so far, I can use the names of the materials I know would be good to include in a composite that I want, such as M5 composite, Nanotube composite, etc. The string ?plastic composite? would narrow the search down even though ?plastic? is such a broad term. When I narrowed the search further by looking for composite plastics that concentrated on strength as its main property, there was much less information to sort through. I solved the problem of getting results related to the elevator effect by using the quotation mark method. Searching ?space elevator? eliminated articles just containing ?space? and ?elevator? anywhere in the article.
    I think I am at the point in my research called the overwhelming stage. There are so many combinations of materials that have similar properties. I either may have to re-word my research question, concentrate on one type of composite material, or concentrate on one particular property or material that the entire composite could incorporate.

    • Maggie Hennessy
    • February 26th, 2007

    My research question has developed into “How has the National Environmental Policy Act affected city planning and the development of cities?”.
    Because my question is centered around a specific Act, NEPA or “National Environmental Policy Act” must be in all of my searches. This will, however narrow my results dramatically. It might prove to be useful to broaden my search by simply including “Environmental Policy” or “Environmental Law” in my search string.
    Synonyms for city planning could include: design, city design, urban planning, or urban design.
    Synonyms for development include: urban development and construction
    My long search statement was (effect or impact) AND (NEPA OR “National Environmental Policy Act” OR “Environtmental law” OR “environmental policy”) AND (design OR “city planning” OR “urban design” or development OR construction)
    This search string got 103 results in Compendex, 30 results in Academic Search Premier, and 1,180,00 results in Google. Those found in specific databases were much more focussed upon my topic, while those on Google would obviously needed to be sorted through extensively.
    At this point, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the information I’m finding. Some of it is very technical and hard for me to understand. I really have yet to find that perfect article that directly addresses my topic, but I am finding a lot of information about NEPA and how it is being changed and how companies/developers are working to follow NEPA’s lofty goals of Environmental Protection.

    • Jeremy Bartucca
    • February 26th, 2007

    Initial Terms: Construction, Central/Artery Transit Project, concrete
    Synonyms for Construction: management, (any words such as joint or beam or frame) construction
    Synonyms for Central/Artery Transit Project: Big Dig, tunnel, massachusets highway system
    Similar terms for Concrete: epoxy, rebar, slab
    Construction and “Central/Artery Transit Project” and concrete
    Though I can see how this search method is very useful, it was interesting for me because searching for the term, “Central/Artery Transit Project” by itself seemed to give me the best results. Truncating was unnecessary/not a large problem for my topic. I did find, however, that this term, being more specific than, “the big dig”, which I was using previously, found better and more scientific results. The best, and one of the first, results I found was the official congressional report on the Central/Artery Transit Project. This I had to get on interlibrary loan and will be bringing to class. I was very impressed with how quickly and easily I could acquire this text. For my research in general, I am finding material with relative ease, my topic seems to be a great one for finding the exact information I need and there is not a lot of similar bu useless information.

    • Amanda French
    • February 26th, 2007

    Dylan, don’t forget that you can probably find the articles you need in print!! Print out a list of articles you want, look up the journal titles in the catalog to get the call numbers, then make a trip to the library and do a bunch of photocopying and/or reading and taking notes.
    Amy, you might well find that you’ll need to read some articles about cell lysing and some different articles about microfluidics rather than limiting yourself only to articles about cell lysing AND microfluidics. We’re going to talk about that a little bit today.
    Patrick, you’ll definitely want to make use of thesauri to help with that causality problem — once you find a great article that _is_ about CT scans possibly causing cancer, you’ll want to make sure you see what descriptors the database uses for that article.
    Almost everyone, I think, is right where they should be on Kuhlthau’s model of research emotions! Feeling overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information out there is an extremely normal part of the research process. Doing conscientious, thorough research is a heck of a lot of work, and there’s no getting around it. Today we’ll be doing some work on how to filter.
    I’m glad everyone seems to have grasped the concept and utility of truncation, in particular, even though it’s not useful for all search strings — I felt I gave that short shrift the other day in class.
    Good work, everyone.

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