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NSP: Screening the Anthropocene

Strategies, tips and links to locate and gather resources for your research projects and course assignments.

What is a search strategy?

Developing a strong search strategy can save you time when it is time to search for resources.  Rather than doing general searching using Google, we recommend that you search using the library databases.  Searching Google is much different than searching library databases.

One facet of database searching that can be difficult to get used to is subject heading or keyword searches.  Rather than typing a question in and expecting instant results, users need to focus on identifying and using controlled language searches.

Identifying controlled language for subject headings and keywords is beneficial for the savvy researcher.  Controlled language is typically assigned by the Library of Congress and is then used universally (or at least in English) by vendors and publishers when identifying main points and ideas for their books, journals and other publications.

Once the controlled language for your topic is identified, database searching is usually much easier. 

Language used on websites by various entities can often be arbitrary and inconsistent.

Keyword Subject Heading
Rate of Biodiversity Loss (mass extinctions) Biodiversity conservation
Biogeochemical loading Biogeochemical cycles
Climate change Climate change
Ozone depletion

Ozone depleting substances OR

Ozone layer depletion

Atmospheric aerosol loading

Aerosols AND Environmental aspects OR

Atmospheric aerosols

Ocean acidification Ocean acidification
Global freshwater use

Fresh water OR freshwater OR

Freshwater biodiversity conservation OR

Water use OR

Water conservation

Chemical pollution

Pollution OR

Air pollution OR

Environmental geochemistry OR

Land system change

Sustainable development AND land use