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HON 201: Plant Medicine from Rainforest to Metropolis - A Legacy for the Future: Preparing for Research

Getting organized

Before you begin searching in the databases, it is helpful to get clear on your research question. This will not only determine what words you will use to enter into the search fields, but also what databases you need to be using to draw up relevant articles related to your research topic.

As you read your research question, consider... How specific are your terms? Can you come up with synonyms for key terms and phrases? What types of articles (case reports, clinical trials, maps, narrative accounts, scholarly reviews) would help develop your argument?

What academic disciplines are linked to elements of your research question. Take note of the recommended databases and journals in each of those academic disciplines' subject guides.

You will find links to subject-specific research guides in the next tab, called Resources. This will give you a starting point of where you need to search. When you click on those links, it will take you away from this guide. To get back you will need to hit the "back" arrow within your internet browser.

You will also want to select a citation manager to help you organize the literature you will find in those databases BEFORE you begin searching. RefWorks, and Zotero, are freely available for you to use.

You'll find links with instructions to download and begin using these citation managers in the subject guide at the bottom of this page. As you search through the databases, you'll need to export the citations you wish to use from the databases into your citation manager for the next steps of your research process. 

Search strategies

When you begin searching in the library catalog and each database, you may need to construct different sets of vocabulary to yield the best results.  

1. Write out your research question.

2. Identify unique keywords that address different components of your research question

3. Think of synonyms for each unique keyword (different databases might group content under different names)

4. Search each keyword within databases that focus on disciplines addressed in your research question

5. Note which keywords and synonyms yield the most relevant results 

6. Link related terms or synonyms with "OR" ; then link different concepts (synonyms for a different aspect of your research question) with "AND"

7. Apply additional filters like resource types, publication dates, subject filters, etc. to reduce the number of results to a manageable amount

8. When you find articles that you want to use, export them into your chosen citation manager

9. Sort literature within your citation manager with tags or folders of "Read" or "Unread" items

10. Annotate or copy the abstracts as a note in your citation manager (if it doesn't automatically) to remember what the articles are about

11. Begin the process in other databases to find other perspectives related to your topic

12. In a separate Word or Google document, annotate further what the articles are about, their key points, and what aspects relate to your project

Citation managers

The following guides will redirect you away from this page. To return to this guide, select the "back" button in your internet browser. 

The first link will introduce you to various citation managers available to you through UIC. RefWorks, Zotero and EndNote are different citation managers you may select. RefWorks and Zotero will be freely available to you with a UIC log in. EndNote is not free but you can purchase access to it through the UIC webstore. Setting up your account should not take long but you will need to use your UIC single sign on credentials to register. Make sure you have downloaded the software and logged in so that you can import citations from the databases in the next step. There are tutorials and descriptive overviews of how to download and use these resources in the link below called RefWorks and Other Citation Management Tools.

The last three guides: Citation and Style Guides, Avoiding Plagiarism, and Copyright and Fair Use will help you understand the importance of attributing proper credit to original creators of work, and how to do so properly following specific citation styles. If you have questions about any of this, please reach out to your course instructor or a librarian for help.