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Milne Library SUNY Geneseo Subject Guides


ECON 340: Environmental Economics (Dr. Weng): Searching for Articles

Databases For Environmental and Economic Research

What is a keyword?

Keyword is a library term for any word that represents a concept that you are searching for. When you type a word into any database, you want to use keywords.

Keywords tend to be:

  • Nouns or verbs
  • Single words or short phrases
  • Vitally important to the concept you are looking for.
    • In other words, if you took them out you would have a different topic.

Keywords are almost never:

  • Connecting words like "the" "it" "then
  • Special search terms like "and" "or" or "not" (More on this later)

How to use keywords

When you are searching in a database, remember that these resources think differently from you. You need to use special terms to get the database to give you good information.

If you want to connect two concepts, use the word AND. That will give you a list of articles that contain both the concepts you connect.

If you want to look for multiple independent concepts, use the word OR. That will take each word you connect and give you a list of articles that contains either or both concepts.

Some databases also use NOT to exclude information. If you use NOT, the list of articles should remove all articles with the word after NOT.

Dr. Weng's Notes

Questions to think about when reading literature 1) what question is the paper addressing? 2) what method does the paper use to answer the question? 3) what are the paper’s results and conclusions? 4) How does the paper fit into the broader literature?

To get a general idea about the literature, read through the title/abstract/introduction, and then decide whether you want to keep reading or not.

To help with paraphrasing, take notes when you read and utilize them effectively.

Two resources to use:

Journal of Economic Perspective/ Journal of Economic Literature are two good resources to start with if you want to know one specific topic in economics. Economists like reading Journal of Economic Perspectives, and we call it The New Yorker for Economists.

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Alan Witt
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