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CamGuides: Finding and Using Resources

More advanced searching techniques

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Evaluate these potential advanced techniques in the context of your subject and research interests.

It may well be that not all of these search techniques are relevant to you, but it's worth considering how and why they might be useful (or not) as you read through them. Many, but not all, of these require Cambridge authentication, so making note of those you'd like to try out after you arrive might be useful.

1. Search monitoring and alerts

If you're working on something for a protracted period of time, you will want to make sure that you're aware of new material being published on that topic. You can repeat your searches for information regularly, but using an alert service, such as Zetoc might be a faster way to do it.

On Zetoc, you can set up email alerts or RSS feeds for specific searches - probably based on the combination of search terms and keywords that you have found to be most successful. You can also set up alerts for publications of certain people, or for new issues of journals you have found useful. You can select how frequently these emails arrive, and it's always possible to edit your settings. Zetoc searches over 30,000 journals, so it will almost certainly be useful whatever your subject.

Alerts can also be set up on Google Scholar.


2. Citation tracking

a screenshot of google scholar results with the citation count highlighted

On Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science you can often see how frequently a work has been cited. This is part of the practice of bibliometrics, which is normally associated with research impact.

A high citation count is not always meaningful - while it suggests that a work has received considerable attention, this may not have been positive, and it can be affected by the researcher and the discipline. It should therefore not be considered a marker of the quality of the research.

But you may find it useful in your search strategies to see where a book or article has been cited, especially if you have found its content or argument particularly relevant.