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Writing 116 (Toconis)

Science Writing in Natural Sciences

Selected Science Databases: Best Bets

Searching ScienceDirect: Tips & Tricks

Be Aware:

  • Use Advanced Search functionality to access a wide array of search options (i.e. limit to a range of years).
  • Choose to see Review articles or Research articles.
  • Use Get Access to request articles from 2019.

Screenshot of Advanced Search in ScienceDirect

ScienceDirect Help Link


Searching Web of Science: Tips & Tricks

Be Aware:

  • The Letters filter in Web of Science will not only return research letters, but also letters to the editor, and correspondance etc.
  • The Note filter in Web of Science will not only return research notes, but also commentary.

Refine your results with Limits

  • by Subject Category: select those most closely related to your area of study.  Check mark and click "Refine".
  • by Document Types: select those you want to view e.g. Article to locate original research articles. 
  • by Publication years: especially for topics in the scientific field

Refine your result by Searching in Results

  • You can also search for metho* (for method, methods, or methodology) to try to bring up articles that mention a Methods section in the abstract.

Times Cited and Cited Reference

  • This information can lead you to other articles related to your topic.  Look for "Times Cited" or "Cited References" hyperlinks.


  • Use the * symbol to search for variations of a word e.g. treat* for treat, treated, treatment, treatments etc.

Limit the Search to a Specific Field

  • The default search is a Topic search.  At the main search page, you may choose Title from the drop down menu.

Searching in PubMed: Tips & Tricks

Be Aware:

  • PubMed will automatically add synonyms and MeSH to your search. 
  • The letter filter in PubMed is for communications between individuals and a representative or organization.  It is often a letter to the author(s) or editor. There is no "research letter" filter.

Use MeSH Database (controlled vocabulary) from the National Library of Medicine

  • Select MeSH from the search drop down menu (rather than PubMed) or use the MeSH Database link under More Resources
  • Enter the common term, e.g. nosebleed, flu, heartburn,
  • If more than one term is listed, select the desired term with a check mark
  • Or, select subheadings that match your topic interest
  • Click Add to search builder
  • Search for additional terms if desired, e.g. outbreak, causes, therapy, etc.
  • Click Add to search builder
  • Click Search PubMed

Limit in a variety of other ways. e.g. by population, language, type of article, age group etc.

Find related articles

  • From search result list, see Related citations link under each item
  • From individual article records see links to articles under Related citations or click Related Citations under All links from this record