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6.7: Known Item Searching

  • Page ID
    65098
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    Often a professor, friend or colleague will recommend a book or article to read or you may find a citation in a textbook or at the end of an article that peaks your interest. Finding that book or article is referred to as a “known item search” (as opposed to a topic searching described in 6E). If you know the author and, therefore, have selected the author field, the search will look at all the authors of everything in the database for a match to what you typed. If you type in the box next to where it says title it will look at everything in the database, but only at the title fields. If you are looking for a book and are, therefore, in a book database (e.g. a library’s catalog), this is straight forward. You search for the author or the title and read the online copy or note the call number and location (explained below) and find it on the shelf, take it home put on your slippers and settle in for a read.

    If you are looking for a specific article and have the title of the article, title of the periodical it is in, in other words, the citation, finding the article is a bit more involved. Basically, you will look in the catalog for the title of the periodical, then, if the library has the periodical title, you will check to see if the library also has the issue or date that you need. And then go from there. (See 7B for more details on finding articles.)

    In known item searching it is necessary to determine if you are looking for a book or an article because the process of finding them is a bit different. This is one reason to learn how to read a citation. Below are examples of a book citation and a periodical (article) citation. Note the differences. Books will have only a year for a date, while articles will sometimes have a month or season as well as the year. Articles can also have a series of numbers designating the volume (often correlated to a year), issue (the number within the volume) and often the page numbers. The first citation below is a book and the second is an article citation.

    Book citation

    Brake, M. (2013). Alien life imagined: Communicating the science and culture of astrobiology. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Article citation

    DA SILVA, L. L. (2013). Unidentified Aerial Phenomena: The VASP-169 Flight Brazilian Episode Revisited. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 27(4), 637-654.


    6.7: Known Item Searching is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Carol M. Withers with Bruce Johnson & Nathan Martin.

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