ESCI 435/535: Landscape Ecology

How to use the THE WEB OF SCIENCE. This used to be known as the SCIENCE CITATION INDICES…..and I still slip up and use this old name.

The library is much more than just a great place to catch up on your sleep. It's got this great stuff in it called the scientific literature. If you want to use it you need to know how to find it. One of the best ways is by using the SCIENCE CITATION INDICES. These come in two flavors; the old fashioned paper version (now taking up space and collecting dust) and an electronic version (web-based). Our library here has both versions (unless they have recently dumped the paper version). Back in the dark ages (about 7 or 8 years ago), after we walked the 12 miles through the drifting snow (uphill) to get to the library, the only thing we had available to us was the paper version. Hefting these things around is great exercise. One year's worth of SCI take up about 6 feet of shelf space. In principle, both versions work the same way. I'll walk you through a demo with the web-based version.

One of the most common situations you face is the case where you have one paper on a topic that you are interested in, but the paper is a bit old and you want to know what sort of related papers might be out there. Finding older papers is easy, you just look in the "literature cited" section of the paper you have. The tougher, and much more interesting, problem is to find out what new work has been done on this same topic. Naturally, many of these "new" papers will cite the paper you have in their "literature cited" section. Here is where SCI comes in. SCI calls this a “Cited Reference Search.”  This is for the situation that I just described.

Let's say we've got this really cool paper:

Gustafson, E.J. and R.H. Gardner. 1996. The effect of landscape heterogeneity on the probability of patch colonization. Ecology 77:94-107.

Who has cited this paper in their recent papers? You start out by going starting the ISI Web of Science (AKA: the Science Citation Index). We’ll start by doing a “Basic Search” for this paper.  You then fill in the author name(s), then click on “Add another field” and add the journal and year and hit the “search” button

This brings up a page that looks like this:

Among other things, this page tells you that, between 1996 and September of 2014, a total of 289 published paper have cited the Gustafson paper.  This is a very high rate of citations so this suggest that the Gustafson paper has been fairly influential.  Now, if you click on the “289” next to “Times Cited,” it will bring up a listing of a all of the papers that have cited the Gustafson paper.  Most of these citations will include a link that will allow you to read the abstract for the paper and also a “Find It” button that will take you to an electronic version of the paper.  This is a very powerful and easy way to find new papers on a given topic.

SCI also allows you to search for papers using only the author’s name (to look for other papers by this author) or by subject. 

The Science Citation Index is just one of the many useful reference tools that the library has. You might consider asking those nice reference librarian folks how to use some more of the stuff. It will make your life much easier.


P.S. Please let me know if I mangled any of the commands above. I think I'm pretty close with most of them, but...........


D. Wallin

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