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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 and trusted 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. 

IFIS Collections and FSTA eliminate irrelevant results by ensuring that the literature in the databases is always focused on the sciences of food and health.   

Irrelevant search results can occur when a search term is used in a legitimate sense, but not the sense the searcher intends.  Many terms have different meanings in different contexts.  A search for mead in FSTA or IFIS Collections will only return results about the fermented honey beverage.  In search tools like PubMed, Scopus, the Web of Science, or Google Scholar, the search returns results about Margaret, the lake, George Herbert, the Nelder-Mead algorithm as well as the honeyed drink.

The FSTA and IFIS Collections editorial team sift through journals in all disciplines where literature relevant to the sciences of food and health is published.  These include engineering, environmental science, business, marketing, chemistry and many more disciplines where the bulk of articles in an issue have nothing to do with food, but those that do should be part of literature you are searching.  The food and health related articles are added to IFIS Collections and FSTA.

The editorial team also screens all literature added to the databases for quality.  Fake science is a huge problem today.



If you're interested, you can find out more about FSTA or IFIS Collections.  Free trials are available for either database.  

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 own, and your company’s, needs.