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10 - Finding Out What We Know

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 September 2019

Joanna M. Setchell
Affiliation:
Durham University
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Summary

We find out what scientists know about a topic by searching the scientific literature. Literature searches range from a preliminary search to find out what we know about a general area to a specific search on a precise topic. As we explore a research topic, we focus our searches to identify the main open questions, the hypotheses proposed and the support for them, potential model systems and methods, and the experts in the field. Broad background reading is also fundamental preparation for a study because no study goes as planned and we may need to identify new research questions as we progress. I begin this chapter with sources of information we have available, then describe how we identify search terms and assess the quality of the literature we find, I explain the importance of reading broadly and how to choose what to read, and end with how we keep up with the literature

Type
Chapter
Information
Studying Primates
How to Design, Conduct and Report Primatological Research
, pp. 137 - 146
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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References

Hicks, D, Wouters, P, Waltman, L, de Rijcke, S, Rafols, I. 2015. The Leiden Manifesto for research metrics. Nature 520: 429431. https://doi.org/10.1038/520429a. Introduces ten principles to guide metrics-based assessment of research.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment. https://sfdora.org [Accessed 9 January 2019]. A set of recommendations for improving the ways we evaluate scientific research.
Seglen, PO. 1997. Why the impact factor of journals should not be used for evaluating research. British Medical Journal 314: 498502. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7079.497. An article published more than 20 years ago, explaining why impact factors are not appropriate for evaluating research. If anything, the practice is now more pervasive.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
International Union for the Conservation of Nature Reintroduction Specialist Group. iucnsscrsg.org [Accessed 3 January 2019]. General and taxon-specific guidelines for reintroduction.
Pain, E. 2016. How to keep up with the scientific literature. Science Careers blog. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.caredit.a1600159 [Accessed 3 January 2019]. How scientists from a range of fields search for and read papers.CrossRef
Primate Specialist Group Best Practice Guidelines. www.primate-sg.org/best_practices/ [Accessed 3 January 2019]. A series of guidelines developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Primate Specialist Group to address critical issues in great ape conservation.
Many university libraries provide useful online guidance for how to search the literature.

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