Discovering the "state of the art" is one of the most important concepts in scientific and technical research. What do we mean by "state of the art?" Merriam Webster defines "state of the art" as "the level of development (as of a device, procedure, process, technique, or science) reached at any particular time usually as a result of modern methods." In essence, it means learning all you can about what has been done in your field and what others are currently doing.
Discovering the state of the art is important for the following reasons:
Discovering the state of the art is accomplished by conducting what's called a "literature search" of relevant documents in your area of research. Typically, the types of literature searched are:
In addition to finding articles by topic or author, the Web of Science database allows researchers to explore scientific literature by citations and references. Web of Science allows you to follow references both backwards and forwards through time, so you can:
The publisher of Web of Science provides a number of tutorials on how to use these features.
Librarians often find themselves repeating the same research tips when they meet with students and faculty. Taking a few minutes to read this list of helpful hints could save you tons of time when you are searching.
1. Always start from the library website or this guide when you want to access a database. Most databases need to know that you are authorized to access their materials. When you go to a database's web site it will not be able to identify that you are an approved user. When you go through an IIT library page you will be able to authenticate correctly and use the database right away.
2. Spend a few minutes test driving a database you've never used before. Check out the help guides, try a few searches, and see how this database may be different from ones you've used before.
3. Most databases don't search the way Google searches. Entering a long phrase such as "how computer automation is used in federal government" in one search box doesn't usually work in a database. Check the database's help section to learn how to best search that particular database.
3. There is no one perfect search. Try many searches in many places to find what you are looking for.
4. Take advantage of any "folders" or "lists" available in the database or library catalog. Use these to keep track of articles or books you will want to read later. The URL at the top of the page is often a session-specific URL, meaning it will only work that one time.
5. Does the library not have immediate access to the article or book you want? We can get you nearly every book or article you want to read using our I-Share catalog for books or MyILL for articles. These are fast and free services. Use the box above to create your accounts so you can begin requesting items.
6. Please let us know when you are having any troubles from choosing the best databases to fixing a dead link. We can't help or fix it if we don't know there's a problem. See our Ask a Librarian page to contact us by IM, email, phone or in person.