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The Industry Researcher’s Guide to Effective Literature Searching

A guide designed for industry researchers

The search process

Good searching takes planning, experimentation, and critical evaluation. As with most things in life, it gets easier with experience, but the most experienced researchers know that the best searches rarely happen on the first try. 

There are crucial steps to making the search process successful.  

STEP 1 – Decide where to search

The search tool(s) you use will determine the efficiency and ultimately the success of your search for information. Choosing FSTA or IFIS Collections as your search tool will help you by pulling together easily searchable relevant literature in one place.  

Because FSTA and IFIS Collections eliminate many of the irrelevant results picked up by other search tools, it saves you time in the screening and critical appraisal process. You can rest assured that your results are relevant to food science, and that their science is sound. Your screening effort needs only to be focused on whether the information is useful for your immediate research need.   


STEP 2 – Build your search

Once you have decided where to search, you need to build your search, pulling together the best search terms and connecting them appropriately, and applying any limits to your results that make sense for your information need. It is worthwhile investing time in this step. If you do, you can be confident that you are capturing all the relevant literature for your question. This guide gives step by step guidance on how to find the right search terms and how to connect them to get the results you need. 

Once you put in the effort to devise a solid and comprehensive search, you can save it to rerun for updated results whenever needed, or set up a search alert so any newly published results that meet your search criteria come straight to your inbox.


STEP 3 – Screen your results

Once you have a good set of results, you will need to screen them, to decide which ones point to an article or patent or standard that you really need to read, and then you need to source the full text of the papers of those papers. This guide gives guidance on ways you might be able to find some of them for free. 


STEP 4 – Critical appraisal

As a final step, you will need to critically appraise a paper once you have it in hand to assess both its applicability to your needs and questions to ask to assess its strength as a research output. 


This guide advises you of best practice for each step of the research process. Use it to be confident that you are approaching research efficiently but comprehensively, and to know how to find the right information for your company’s needs.