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Devising a Good Computer Search Request

Computerized searching is the interaction of a human with a computer to retrieve information stored in data bases. A scribbled note with the cryptic message “computer search lung cancer chemotherapy” can be interpreted in many ways. There are thousands of articles on this topic; does the researcher really want a list of all citations? More to the point, does he or she really want to pay for all of them? What type of cancer? What type of chemotherapy? Is there a specific antineopla

Leilani A. St Anna

Computerized searching is the interaction of a human with a computer to retrieve information stored in data bases. A scribbled note with the cryptic message “computer search lung cancer chemotherapy” can be interpreted in many ways. There are thousands of articles on this topic; does the researcher really want a list of all citations? More to the point, does he or she really want to pay for all of them? What type of cancer? What type of chemotherapy? Is there a specific antineoplastic agent? Is the researcher interested in experimental animal research or clinical human results, or both? Should one look for English-language articles only? How many years should be covered? What data base should be searched?

Before searching a data base it is essential to develop a very specific search request. This is true whether you’re requesting an information specialist to perform the search or if you’re doing your...

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