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NDL 202: Research Methods in Geochemistry: Tapping into Conversations

Pattern Recognition

As you explore the literature, you will start to see patterns emerge. Watch out for the authors and co-authors who are producing good research. Take note of where their labs are or where they work. These nodes in the web of conversation among scientists can lead you to the places and people who are making inroads and exploring the frontiers.

If authors have a presence on social media, keep a blog, or have a current website that includes their CV (resume), these, too, can be ways to learn more about how science works. In a sense, the literature is people talking to people. Working scientists get to know the authors behind the articles through conferences and common interests.

Tapping into Conversations through Citations

References in the scientific literature form a network of ideas. They are important ways to map a scientific conversation over time.

Going backward in time:

When you have an article with references, you can see if a particular reference is available by looking the journal's name up in our "Do We Have this Journal?" link on the library's main page. Then you can use the volume and date information to navigate to the article. If we don't have access to that journal, we usually can get it from another library.

Going forward in time:

If you have a good article in front of you, see who has cited it by searching in either SciFinder or Google Scholar. That will let you click on newer publications that cite it (and Google Scholar will also run the same search in Web of Science for you). Then use the Find It! button to get the article or request it from another library.

How do I get the actual articles?

Libraries are linked together through an interlibrary-loan (or ILL) system. Libraries share books and make digitized articles available to people throughout the state connected through this system. What you need to know:

  • Many databases have a find it! button that will first see if an article is in another database and, if not, offer you a chance to request it from another library. Google Scholar includes links to library content to the right of the search results (find it @ Gustavus). When there's no link to the article on the right-hand side, click the tiny more option under the article to get the link to request it through ILL.
  • You'll need to enter your Gustavus account username and password to log into the library system.
  • The form will be filled out for you. All you need to do is scroll down and click submit.
  • You will then get an email with a link and instructions on how to download the article. You can keep the article. (You can also request books, but those you have to return.)
  • Sometimes things go wrong. Library ILL staff are friendly and helpful. They will do their best to help you get what you need.

If you have a reference to an article you want, you don't need to go through a database to order it. There's a form you can fill in with the citation information, but it's cleverly hidden. To find it ...

  • Go to the library website. On the left-hand side, click "My Library Account."
  • Click on the "Sign In" button in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Log in using your Gustavus user name and password.
  • Click on "My ILL Requests"
  • Click on "Create Request," fill in the blanks, and click "Submit."

From this page, you will also have the option to download PDFs of articles you have requested recently. Be sure to download them because they will vanish after a period of time.

Review Articles

Review articles are not primary research - they don't report new results - but they can be helpful to researchers because they provide a map of what's been going on in some area of research. These are published in scientific journals as well as in "annual reviews" which publish several review articles once a year.

Annual Series

These annual publications review recent research of interest in the fields of biochemistry, earth & planetary science, and physical chemistry.

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