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Biological Sciences : Search Tips

Research biological science resources at UC Merced Library

Searching Web of Science: Tips & Tricks

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 view to view e.g. Article.  For instance, you may want ot exclude editorials and letters.
  • Try adding metho* (for method, methods, or methodology) to limit to actual research studies.
  • By Publication years: especially for topics in the scientific field

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.

Building a search

" " quotation marks to search for a phrase e.g. "stem cell"

* (asterisk) to look for end variations on a word e.g. environ* will search for environment, environmental, environmentalist, etc.

AND to join dissimilar term e.g. tuberculosis AND "drug resistance"

OR to join similar terms e.g. heart OR cardiovascular

For more details on Boolean Search Terms, study the details below.

Searching in PubMed: Tips & Tricks

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

    Find a Known Item

    Some Strategies

    1. Use the Journals tab in the UC Library Search box on the library home page.

    2.  Look for the article title in Google Scholar.  Try the title OR UC-eLinks/ Get it at UC hyperlink.

    3.  Look for the article title in UC Library Search.  Look for the Available Online link or request form. 

    4. Look for the journal title.  Select the Journals tab on the library home page.  See if the journal is available.  Is the date you need available?

    5. You may be able to find it in a major database IF it belongs to a specific subject area.

    Check the References

    When you find a scholarly article that is relevant to your topic, always check the references at the end. There's a good chance that the research the article's author did to write their paper may be useful to you, too.

    The same goes for well-researched books that include references at the end. And although you should not cite Wikipedia in a paper, a well-researched Wikipedia article on your topic may have valid references at the end that you can check out.