There are several key elements of a successful search, including coming up with effective search terms, and selecting the right databases to search.
First, let's start with the the crucial element of identifying useful search terms. We can use this Jamboard to practice:
(Jamboard is a Google product that you can log into with a personal or Puget Sound account at https://jamboard.google.com/. It works sort of like a virtual whiteboard. You can use the 'post it note' feature to make notes, or create a concept map.)
Second, let's skip ahead to another fun part: once you've identified good articles, how do you actually access the full text? Here's a little exercise to practice figuring out how to get access to an article through the library. These are all articles that OT students in the last year have reached out to me about figuring out how to get access to.
Does Collins Library have access to these articles? Briefly describe how to access each.
PubMed is available to anyone, but not all articles found through PubMed are openly accessible. By using this link, you will be shown a small blue and white 'Check for full text' button on article results pages which will connect you back to the University of Puget Sound to check for full-text access through Collins Library! Keep an eye out for that 'check for full text' button.
CINAHL, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health, covers a wide range of topics including nursing, biomedicine, alternative/complementary medicine, consumer health and various allied health disciplines. There is some overlap with PubMed, but some unique content as well. In addition to scholarly articles, contains trade publications and general interest magazines as well.
Consider searching also our broad 'aggregator' databases which contain scholarly literature AND popular materials (magazines, newspapers, etc) from a wide array of fields. These resources aren't as tightly focused as the subject-specific databases, but may contain useful sources not included in those of smaller scope. The two largest such databases are listed below. Be sure to use the filters to limit only to scholarly or peer-reviewed sources!
Last, but certainly not least, Google Scholar can be a very useful tool as well, though it has its weaknesses. Some things that it does particularly well are "known item searching" i.e if you have a citation for a particular article that you're trying to find, Google Scholar can be a good option for trying to track it down, and also "cited reference searching" i.e if you've found one good relevant article, you can try to find others by looking for articles that have cited the original good article that you found...see below for explanation of how to do that. You can of course also use it to just search for your topic, but it can be a little hit or miss for that kind of subject searching, so be sure to also use the databases above.
There are three methods for obtaining the actual articles you wish to read:
Method 1: In some databases, you will be able to link directly to the full-text article. Look around, as different databases have different interfaces. Look for a link or buttons that says "Check for Full Text" or Download PDF or similar. If given the choice between a PDF or HTML version of the article, always choose the PDF format. This will give you an exact image, including page numbers, of the article as it appears in the paper journal.
Method 2: If a direct link to full text is not available, then check Primo Search to see if the library subscribes to the journal. Search for the title of the journal that the article was published in.
You may find that there is online access available for this journal. Check the dates that are available...most of the time the link will say "Fulltext access available from 19xx." Check to see whether the article that you're looking for was published during the date range that is available. If so, then click the 'View fulltext' link and either browse through past issues, or look for a "search within this publication" link until you find the article that you need. You may find that Primo says the journal is available at Collins Memorial Library Print Journals, which means we have the journal physically in the library. If the article you are looking for is only available in print in the library rather than online, in which case you you will need to check either the current periodicals area on the first floor, or go downstairs to the basement to find the bound volumes of periodicals. If the periodical is available only in microform, you may submit a request for electronic delivery of the article via your ILL account.
Method 3: If your searching indicates that the article is not available in any format, then request the article through ILL, our interlibrary loan service. (Most databases include links to our ILL within each record.) It usually takes about a week or less to receive an electronic copy of the article.
And at any time if you have questions, send Eli an email!
One very useful feature of Google Scholar is its ability to allow for easily finding subsequent articles which have cited a particular article that you have located.
Step 1: When looking at search results, check for the 'Cited by X' link underneath each result. That will tell you how many subsequent articles (that Google Scholar is aware of...it's not 100% comprehensive! This is a ballpark figure) have cited this particular article.