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Biology library guide to information searches

General guidelines for choosing a search tool

General guidelines for choosing a search tool

Depending on your subject, different search tools may be more or less suitable. Try to think of what kind of sources you will need to answer your research question, the ability of different search tools to find specific types of sources differ. You should also be aware of the fact that different search tools work differently. Try several different search tools if you have trouble finding relevant publications.

The Biology library suggest the following search tools:

  • Academic papers: Bibliographic database or LUBsearch (Google Scholar as a complement)
  • Books and theses: LUBsearch
  • Reports and other non-academic literature: LUBsearch or regular Google

Comparison between bibliographic databases and Google Scholar

Bibliographic databases (Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, LUBsearch) Google Scholar
Everything is quality controlled Quality control somewhat lacking
Searches in the bibliographic information (i.e. title, abstract, keywords, subject terms) Searches in the full text (i.e. title, abstract, introduction, material & methods, results, discussion)
Contains manually added subject terms Lacks manually added subject terms
More search alternatives (AND/OR/NOT, truncation, field search) Less search alternatives but easier to use (powerful algorithm)
Many options to filter your results Few options to filter your results
Control over your search, transparency! Little control over your search

If you would like to learn more about the different search tools, you can read under the menus Bibliographic databases (Web of Science, Scopus, & PubMed), LUBsearchGoogle Scholar and Google.