Documenting your research from beginning to end is an important part of the process. The steps you took to conduct your research need to be able to be replicated.
For example, you may be asked to present the keywords or search strategies you used to find your resources to:
Other times, you may be looking for a specific way of organizing your citations in one place when you are doing research in many databases.
Regardless of the reason, keeping track of your research and the steps you took to complete it is always important.
When keeping track of your searches, you want to ensure you are writing down the following pieces of information:
An example search history may look like the following:
|Database Searched||Search Terms + Limits||Number of Results||Comments on Results||Date of Search||Next Search Date|
|Web of Science||("water crisis" OR "water scarcity") AND Asia AND pollution||3,649||A lot of results, add date limiters?||Jan 16, 2016||Feb 2, 2016|
Often, databases will now have options for printing and/or saving search histories when you make an account. Take advantage of these to avoid a lot of manual tracking.
Don't reinvent the wheel! Check out a template I share with other graduate students on the Okanagan campus.
Other institutions around the world offer templates you can use when tracking your research manually.
These are only some:
Curious if you re-ran a search today if you would get the same results?
Search alerts and RSS feeds let you track past searches that you found most useful and alert you to any new publications that would have shown up in that search today.
For example, when logged into your Web of Science personal account, it will remember your searches and allow you to re-run them the next time you come into the database. You can also set up searches as Search Alerts if you prefer to be notified directly.
To track the resources you are finding in your searches and are relevant to your research, consider using a citation management tool. A citation management tool will help: