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BIOL 171: First year seminar

Documenting your search

Maintaining a record of your search is is a good way to ensure the completeness of your research. A systematic strategy of recording searches helps you to assess the changes to your searches as your research progresses, and it helps others replicate your searches for their own systematic reviews of the subject.

Many databases, including SuperSearch, provide features to help you document your searches when logged in. It is worthwhile to create an account in databases to save your searches and set up search alerts.

Saved searches retain the information from searches you've already done. Some databases allow you to export the information from saved searches easily. However, not all databases retain static records of the searches. That is, the results from a search you do today will not be available in a year; the database will perform the same search again, with the most recent available results.

Search alerts notify you when new content is available within your search parameters. This feature can be useful to keep you informed about your research topic while saving you the time of redoing searches every few weeks or months.


In your documentation of the various searches, you'll need to register the following:

  • databases and platforms (e.g., ERIC via EBSCO, ERIC via Proquest, or ERIC via U.S. Department of Education): This will help you recall where you conducted the searches.
  • date for each search: Matching research to your dated notes will help organize your information.
  • subject and keyword: Include here which terms you explored during the search, and which terms you truncated and expanded.
  • combinations of terms: Record what variations of term combinations you used in the search.
  • number of results: The total number of results, regardless of their relevance to your research, will help you identify changes since your last search.

In hand-searching (looking through journal contents by hand), take note of the source and the year.

Citation managers

Citation managers create personal databases of citation information as well as notes on your research. With a citation manager, you can

  • import citation information from databases, article indexes, and other sources
  • organize your citations and pdfs
  • save .pdfs alongside their citation information
  • format your citations in a particular style (MLA, APA, Chicago, and numerous others), and incorporate those citations easily in your paper
  • take notes and include them alongside citations

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CSU-Pueblo students, faculty, and staff have free access to EndNote Web. You will need to Sign up for an account to save and manage citations.

Need help using EndNote? Check out the tutorial below, or register for the library's "Citing Made Simple with EndNote Web" research workshop.

Other citation managers are available online for free use. At CSU-Pueblo, these resources are yours to use; however, the library does not provide support for them.


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Data management