How to Critically Read a Database Results List with a Purpose

I need to find articles on a rough topic about
service animals and PTSD, so I’m going to start at the Academic Search Complete database
that the EKU Libraries have. When I look at this database, I can tell it looks different
than some of the other things I’m used to searching. For example, I use Google all the
time, and it gives me that one search box, and I type in my terms. So, probably, if I
need to find stuff different than what I would find in Google, then I bet my search approach,
and what I do, is going to be different in Academic Search Complete, than what I wold
do in Google. So, looking at the search screen, I can see that instead of just one big box,
this database is giving me three different boxes. So, I’m betting that’s encouraging
me to try to break my search up, and think about just the keywords. So, I know I definitely
want to look at service dogs, so I’m gonna get started by typing that in. As I typed
in my keyword of service dogs, I noticed that the databases was actually making suggestions
for me. So reading through these …. let’s see, I’m seeing service dogs or therapy dogs
or assistance dogs….guide dogs. I think maybe I don’t want to look at guide dogs,
so I’m going to choose their suggestion of service dogs or therapy dogs or assistance
dogs. Now I’m going to add my second keyword of PTSD, and following the suggestions of
the search screen, I’m going to come down underneath, and I’m going to use that second
box beside the AND pull down. Just like before, it’s giving me some suggestions, and I immediately
notice that I should probably spell out post-traumatic stress disorder as well, and not just use
the abbreviation of PTSD. I’m going to select this option because it has post-traumatic
stress disorder spelled out in several different ways. In one option, posttraumatic is one
word. And in another option it’s post-traumatic. And then the other option post traumatic is
two words. So by selecting this option, I think I’m going to capture just about any
way an author could spell this disorder. I’m going to stop at just two keywords and not
add anymore, because sometimes when you add more keywords, you can actually end up with
too few results. One of the first things I’m noticing on the search screen, is I still
have my boxes with my keywords at the top, so it looks like at anytime, I can add or
take away terms from this search, and do other things to refine this search. Next, I’m noticing
that it says for SEARCH RESULTS, I’m currently seeing 1 through 10, so just 10 results. I
have a total of 44. And over to the right of that, I see that my search results are
being sorted by RELEVANCE. It looks like there’s something … special going on over to the
left. And I see it’s a column labeled REFINE RESULTS. And I’m seeing terms like LIMIT TO,
so I’m betting, based on what I know from shopping on Amazon, and other places, I bet
this is an area where I can make my search more specific, and limit it to certain things,
or certain dates, and other ways that could make the search results more helpful to me.
This reminds me, that one requirement of this assignment, and honestly a lot of the assignments
my instructors give me, is that I’m supposed to find only, scholarly/peer-reviewed journals.
So, I see that here in this, on the screen, so I’m going to go ahead and click on that,
so that I can limit my results to only those types of articles that my instructor wants
me to use. Narrowing my search results to only scholarly/peer-reviewed journals, has
reduced the number of items in my results from 44, down to just 20. Now I’m going to
actually read some of these results, and see if I can figure out what’s going on. Looking
at this first result, I can see that it’s an academic journal, because it has that symbol
there that’s labeled academic journal. The title, let’s see, the title is “Design and
challenges for a randomized multi-site clinical trial comparing the use of service dogs and
emotional support dogs in Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” A couple of things
I’m noticing about that title. It is long –it’s using some big terms, but I’m also
noticing, just visually, that there are some terms in there that are bolded: service dogs,
dogs, post-traumatic stress disorder. And I’m seeing those same terms bolded underneath
in the subjects, and I know that those were the terms that were in my search boxes. So,
I think this database puts in bold the words that were in my keywords. Who is this by?
By …….. a lot of people, and I think that is really common with academic journals. I
see it’s in the “Contemporary Clinical Trials.” November 2017, so that’s pretty new. And then
I’m seeing volume number, page 105 to 113, so nine pages. That’s not too bad, that’s
not overly long, but that seems long enough to me. And then I’m seeing that there are
SUBJECTS. What are these subjects? Randomized control trials, service dogs, treatment of
post-traumatic stress disorder, Veterans – services for, Administration of Veterans Affairs, and
Diseases in veterans. So, I think that’s giving me a pretty good idea of what this article
is about. Looking at several of these other articles in the results page, I’m noticing
that these do seem to be really on topic, but I’m also noticing the term VETERANS used
a lot. So, based on that, I’m going to go back up into my search boxes, and I’m going
add veterans as a third keyword. Looking through my list of now just 11 results, I’m really
pleased with the articles I have. But this, one, number 10, “The Hidden Wounds of War,”
I’m not so sure about. So I’m going to take a closer look at this one by clicking on the
title. Let’s take a closer look at this one, “The Hidden Wounds of War.” Authors: Maureen
Shawn Kennedy, and their e-mail address….I think that’s a drug company? The source is
“AJN American Journal of Nursing.” Eh, I’m not so sure about that. Page 7 to 7, it’s
only one page, so I’m already concerned about this one. I don’t think a one-page article
could really offer me anything that I could then use in my research project. Document
Type: Editorial. Okay, I’m ready to walk away from this one already. I know that an editorial
is an opinion piece, and it doesn’t offer any research-based information. So it’s interesting
to know that this editorial still showed up in a limited search results that was just
supposed to be scholarly/peer-reviewed articles. But if I needed to look further, I would go
down to the ABSTRACT. And reading the abstract of this one, I can … I can tell from there
that this is an opinion piece, and this is, I think, a nurse advocating for nurses to
be more accommodating in treatment of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Now that
I’ve eliminated that nursing journal editorial from my list of results, I have 10 really
strong sources that I can use in my project. If I run into any problems, or have any questions,
I know that I can use that ASK US chat widget on the right side of the database to ask a
librarian for immediate help. This video incorporated the QEP Read with a Purpose philosophy to
read a database screen results list. If you have any questions, need any help, never hesitate
to ask. Good luck!

Daniel Ostrander

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