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Polymer Engineering - Research Methods: Search Strategy

General literature search strategy

You do not need to know every work on your topic before you know your topic. When starting research, look for a few highly relevant articles and reviews. I suggest trying to find 5-10 items to read after a review of several dozen abstracts. Once you have found some articles that are truly specific to your work you can use forward and backward citation search to work through the literature.

Backwards citation search

I will use Web of Science for both examples.

A current paper that includes Dr. Vogt and Dr. Zacharia from University of Akron is of great potential relevance to your project.

Accelerated Amidization of Branched Poly(ethylenimine)/Poly(acrylic acid) Multilayer Films by Microwave Heating

In their experimental section you see the following quote "For fitting of these ellipsometric data, a Cauchy layer was used to describe the optical constants of the BPEI/PAA film.(36)" Reference 36 has this important data on how the Cauchy model was actually used to fit the ellipsometric data - this is simply not presented and a curious researcher would be expected to look this up.

After examining the Synowicki article from 1998, you notice in the conclusion that "More exact fits can be achieved over a wider spectral range by modeling the film with a graded profile and using Lorentz oscillators to describe the refractive index at the top and bottom of the film." From the citations given in the Lorentz section of this paper, you decide to examine the book Optical Properties of Solids by Wooten from 1972 to help decide whether the Cauchy method or Lorentz method is most appropriate for your work.




Forward citation search

I will use Web of Science for both examples.

After examining the Synowicki article from 1998, you wonder who else used this Cauchy method to fit ellipsometric data. You look it up on Web of Science and see that it has been cited 181 times (among the publications they pay attention to):

If you click on the "181 Times Cited" link to the right of the article, you will have a searchable, sortable list of publications that cited this article. If you were interested in optics, you could search for the keyword, or refine in the left side of Web of Science under the categories option:

The point is you can find who cited a work you find useful and interesting, and possibly find more relevant material. Then you can go backwards into other works cited.