Week 1: Search strategies for science syntheses

Greetings, my name is Giancarlo Sadoti and I’m working collaboratively with Rob Crystal-Ornelas on Project #2: Supporting Synthesis Science with DataONE. Week 1 was a helpful and illuminating launch into the world of data syntheses literature!

While I was familiar with Web of Science (WoS) for systematic searches of the literature, we learned new approaches to refining searches to better target our queries. One approach that was particularly useful was in the use of wildcards when searching for phrases that may exhibit variations in usage. We also explored and utilized several of WoS’s useful functions such as exporting to several formats and the storage of references and reference groupings in EndNote Online.

Several iterations of building and examining results of WoS queries illuminated the many ways in which data sources can be synthesized. Some of these syntheses were conducted using approaches that we more typically think about syntheses; for example by integrating data on a single phenomenon across studies in various locations. Other syntheses focused on a particular hypotheses or subject and employed a range of different datasets as sources of predictor variables. Of course, with generally non-standardized usage of terms such as “synthesis” (e.g., “we conducted a synthesis of data from the literature”), there are large number of non-applicable (though interesting) review papers, meta-analyses, and sometimes hard-to-categorize papers we must wade through on our way to identifying true syntheses papers.

In tandem with a more theme-based approach to identifying synthesis papers (conducted by Rob), we are nearing completion of a final WoS search terminology. With a set of relevant syntheses, we will embark on the process of cataloging data sources within each synthesis paper. This catalog will form the basis for investigating whether these syntheses could have benefited from employing DataONE in their investigations.

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