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The easiest way to find articles is to use a semantic search engine, meaning one that tries to understand your intent and the contextual meaning of terms to generate more relevant results even if the search terms are imprecise or vague. This means that whether you type in the search phrase as “central processing unit” or “part of a computer that processes all the instructions,” you will receive the same results.
Lexical search engines look for literal matches of the query words or variants of them, without understanding the overall meaning of the query. Therefore precise search terms will be necessary, and it is recommended to use an advanced search to access the most relevant results.
Academic papers always cite prior research on the topic they are writing about. Therefore, once you have found a relevant article on a specific subject, you can find more related papers by looking at:
When searching with Google Scholar, each search result will have a link for cited by, and related articles under the search result description.
The keywords are precise terms that can be used in subsequent advanced searches to produce more focused results. Often one can search by keywords, for example in the databases here MISSING.
If you are not certain of the precise search terms to use, it is helpful to start with a semantic search engine. Once you have found a relevant paper look for the keywords after the abstract. Some databases list the article keywords on the webpage. For example, in Proquest, clicking on abstract/details of an article displays both the subject and Identifier/Keywords. Similarly, ScienceDirect displays the keywords on the left-hand side of the page with the article. Below is a sample paper, and you will find the keywords listed after the abstract.
The following databases contain journals published by specific publishers so their content is more limited and most of the results will be paywalled. Nonetheless some of the articles may be available as will be explained here. All have options for advanced search and options to search in the title, author, keywords or anywhere, and different filters.
Other collections of open-access journals and articles can be found on the following sites. Their range and search features may be more limited, but definitely worthwhile to check out during your research.
Dissertations (longer research papers submitted as part of an advanced academic degree) can be searched and downloaded from several sites. They are generally not usually used as part of basic research unless you are specifically directed to one. But they are helpful when determining a research topic, as well as for helping find other resources. They can be searched and downloaded as part of a Proquest search.
Even articles that are paywalled and are not available in Proquest, may be legally available online. Here are some ways to find those articles:
Online students may encounter difficulty in obtaining books for research. Ebooks are books either written just to be published online or physical books that have been digitally republished as an online book. As part of your research, you will want to read books, or specific chapters in books, for ideas, information, and support for your thesis.
For a list of sites that offer free access to ebooks that are not available on Proquest, see https://ncu.libguides.com/ebooks/openaccess
In addition, check out these sites:
Let’s say you are researching the benefits of open-source software. Your first step would be to search using a semantic search engine. Doing so allows you to simply type in “benefits of an open-source software.” Results from Google Scholar would yield something like this:
But using Proquest or CORE, you would do better to refine the search using the advanced search and breaking the query down into components: “benefits AND open-source software.” Also think about what synonyms can be used, for example, benefits OR advantages. Here I have specified that the title should contain the words open AND source AND software and that it should contain either benefits OR advantages.
If I was looking AI in healthcare, searching Google Scholar with either AI healthcare or AI deep learning healthcare would bring similar results. But using CORE, I would manually change the query in the advanced search to: title:((healthcare) AND (AI OR “artificial intelligence” OR “deep learning”).