Phy 445: Senior Research
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Physics and Astronomy Guide  

Recommended academic resources for Valpo's physics and astronomy students
Last Updated: Sep 1, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Off-Campus Access

You can gain off-campus access to the electronic resources (also called databases or journal collections) by clicking on the name of the database you’d like to access, and then logging in using your Valpo e-mail username and password.

If you have problems with this service, contact IT at 464-5678.


Doing Research and Literature Reviews

Cover Art
Doing Science : Design, Analysis, and Communication of Scientific research
Call Number: Q180 .A1 V35 2009
Covers each stage of research, from formulating questions and gathering data to developing experiments and analyzing results and finally to the many ways for presenting results.--from publisher description

Cover Art
Preparing Literature Reviews (Second Edition)
Call Number: Q180.55 .E9 P36 2004

Cover Art
Practical Research : Planning and Design
Call Number: Q180.55 .M4 L43 2010


Help with Reading Scientific and Technology Research


Boolean Operators and How To Use Them

Used primarily with keyword searches, search tools are used to refine search strategies. While their concepts remain constant across various applications and resources, some electronic databases don't support all of them or their symbols may be slightly different. To make the best use of powerful search strategies, it is essential to check the database's HELP files to make sure the tools are available and that the chosen symbols are entered correctly.

Search Operators, aka Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT
Search operators are words that specify the relationship between two or more search terms. Search terms can be linked in a number of ways:

This narrows a search. Both search terms must be found somewhere in the record, though not necessarily in the same place, such as part of an author's name and part of a title. GALILEO's default operator between search terms is "and".
In the library catalog, try a keyword search of "jazz and blues" to see what records are retrieved.

This broadens a search. Either search term must be found somewhere in the record. This is especially helpful when searching synonyms or words with various forms. Most Internet search engines' default operator between search terms is "or"... a primary reason a search can retrieve so many irrelevant records.
In the library catalog, try a keyword search of "jazz or blues" to see what records are retrieved.

This narrows a search also. A record can be retrieved only if the first search term is present and the second search term is not present.
In the library catalog, try a keyword search of "jazz not blues" to see what records are retrieved.

Some database software works best for these strategies when you first do a search for each search term to get the "mapping" strategy in place. Following this, you can then use a combination of the search sets retrieved with your search operator(s) of choice to further delineate your search.

Search operators can also be used with Internet search engines. It is essential to check the HELP files of your search engine of choice as to what its specifics are concerning search operators: some require that the words be in all capital letters, some accept two and not the other, some require the combination "and not" for the "not" operator.

Most will honor the use of the plus " + " and minus " - " signs as shortcuts for the use of the words "and" and "not." Precede a required word or phrase in the search query with a " + " and a prohibited word or phrase with a " - " . The use of these symbols in combination within one search query is also acceptable. 


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