Posted by ebrothen included in Uncategorized
Okay, so I got your attention with that title. It’s not really like that, but there is a kernel of truth to the question: it can be very hard to limit your library search to articles that focus on the United States.
It was a question that came up several times at the Dallas colloquium. Many learners complained about trying to find research about the U.S., only to get result lists full of articles about China, Canada, and every country in between. They all wanted to know: how do you stop that from happening?
The short answer is you really can’t.
The U.S. is a really big country that produces a ton of scholarly research. There are also hundreds upon hundreds of journals published in the United States that focus on domestic research. Because the U.S. is such a big piece of the research pie, authors don’t think to include the words in an article title or abstract. It almost goes without saying.
Compounding the problem is the sheer size of the United States. Many researchers confine themselves to studying something in a single state or city. They may write about crime prevention in Los Angeles or health care legislation in Florida. It’s basically impossible to include every major American place name in your search.
Foreign researchers only make the problem worse. Since the U.S. is so dominant in many research fields, researchers working in other countries often talk about the U.S. or include American research studies in their literature reviews.
So, what can you do?
Scan the titles on your result list. Chances are good that if an article does not mention another country in the title, then it’s probably about the U.S.
If you notice a particular country popping up a lot, tell the database to exclude it. This can remove articles that contain helpful comparisons, but it can also help you focus a search topic that is popular around the world. To do this, use the not. Here’s an example from Business Source Complete:
Any other quesitons? Ask a Librarian.
Posted: August 9th, 2008 under Uncategorized.