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Mathematics: Create a Plan

algebra, applied_mathematics, combinatorics, computational_mathematics, differential_equations, geometry, mathematical_biology, mathematics_study_and_teaching, probability_and_statistics

Finding Keywords

Once you have identified a topic, select the terms and phrases that are essential to understanding the topic. 

Explore Subject/Heading/Descriptors/Major Concepts found when during a test search in a relevant database. Use these found terms and phases in a new search.

For example:

Topic – "Classifying quadratic quantum P2s by using graded skew Clifford algebras" (Nafari, Manizheh; Vancliff, Michaela; Zhang, Jun; 2011).

Keywords: quantum P2, Clifford algebras
Keywards (found): quadratic regular algebra; global dimension three; cubic curve; 16S38 [MathSciNet - Rings arising from non-commutative algebraic geometry; 15A66 [MathSciNet - Cifford algebras, spinors]; 16S37 [MathSciNet - Quadratic and Koszul algebras]

Once you have identified the keywords, find a way to think of related terms and phrases. If you are having trouble identifying additional keywords, thesauri, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and online encyclopedias like Wikipedia can be great places to look for inspiration even though this background might not be specifically used in the project.

Using Subject Thesauri

Using Database Subject Thesauri & Terms

Take note of Subject/Heading/Descriptors/Classification code found during a test search in a relevant database. Use these found terms and phases in a new search.

Many scientific dasebases use standardized subject headings or codes - look for links to Subjects, Headings, MeSH, Major Concepts, Thesaurus or Classification to explore the standard terms used to group similar articles. These terms can be used to help generate more ideas for your research and make your searches more precise.

Build a good search by doing a broad search with no limits. Be prepared to do several related fast searches, quickly scanning the titles found. Redo the search in steps, adding one limit at each step. This allows you to see where things start getting better or go wrong. Do NOT limit to full text unless there are still too many records in the final search. The Click here for more information link will very, very often connect to full text in one of many other UT Arlington library databases.

For example: In the database MatSciNet, using the Mathematic Subject Classification code link, following a record's code link of 16S38 will display the following -

16 (1959-now) Associative rings and algebras [For the commutative case, see 13-XX]
      16S  (1991-now) Rings and algebras arising under various constructions
              16S38 (2000-now) Rings arising from non-commutative algebraic geometry [See also 14A22]

Broaden/Limit Search Results

It is important to know when to broaden or narrow/limit a search. Broaden the search if there are few or inaccurate results.

Ways of broadening a search:

  • Truncation symbols (*, ?, etc.) - example: biolog* =  returns terms that match these first letters: biological, biologically, biology, or any matches
  • Use "OR" for alternate spellings or synonyms- example: Aedes aegypti OR dengue mosquito*

Narrow or limit thesearch when - there are a very large number of hits or if the search topic is very broad.

Ways of limiting/narrowing a search:

  • Phrase searching - Use " " - this will find words together in same order - example: "dengue mosquito"
  • Use "AND" - to combine words - e.g. "structural steel' AND design
  • Use menus to select where the search term must located - in the title, as an author name, as a formal subject, etc.
  • If available, use the check boxes for that database's limits. In EBSCOHost databases, these can be found by clicking on the Refine Your Seach, Show More link. 

Important Terms

Controlled Vocabulary: Specific terms used by databases to standardize meaning and organize resources.

Peer Reviewed Articles: Articles that have been evaluated by other professionals in the field to check for accuracy and adherence to disciplinary standards.

Primary Sources: Add definition specific to discipline area.

Scholarly Sources: Well researched sources that have been written for scholars, students, and experts in the discipline area.

Secondary Sources: Add definition specific to discipline area.

Research Articles: Articles that detail the original research of the authors including the purpose of the study, methodology, results, discussion of results, and references.

Concept Map

A concept map is a graphical tool used to organize and structure knowledge.


How to Use a Concept Map

Created by Katherine Miller and Tom Childs for Douglas College Library. Creative Commons license Share Alike.