Finding scientific information: Documenting your search

Documenting your search

With each search, you should at least save the used search words and phrases, databases and filters as well as the number of results and the date of retrieval. Some databases save your search history directly, or you can keep a record of your searches yourself.

Search history

With the help of your search history you can easily and quickly manage, compare and modify previous searches. It lists all searches made in the session, therefore allowing the user to easily go back to the results of previous searches or modify them. In some databases only the searches made in the current session are saved, and in some it is possible to save your search history for later use or for repeating the search. Using your search history in future sessions always requires registration to the service.

Saving search results

After a successful search, references that are estimated to be relevant can be saved into a reference management software, where they can be easily found for later use.

Systematic information retrieval

is usually a process with multiple stages consisting of several searches. One might have to change the search words, filters and databases in order to get the desired results. In more extensive projects it in necessary to repeat the exact same search periodically. It is recommendable to document all the stages of the search process in detail in order to advance the search process and to avoid unnecessary work by making the process visible.

Current awareness

If you wish to be notified of the newest references related to your topic you can utilize alert notifications offered by different databases. You can request an alert via email for example when the latest issue of a journal is published, new information is published about your topic or if a certain standard is changed. Requesting alerts usually requires registration.