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Michigan State University

Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics Research (AFRE): Database Search Tips

This guide provides research resources in the world of agriculture and natural resources. Topics include food security, economics of agricultural commodities, natural resources and businesses, rural economies, and international agricultural policies.

Searching Article Indexes

  • Make a list of 10-15 key terms related to your research problem or question. You can add new terms as you go along.
  • You can start with keyword searching but mine the results list of relevant hits for subject terms for a more focused search.
  • Alternatively, you can start with the subject terms (sometimes also called "descriptors" or "subjects") used by a database and use those terms in a 'subject' search. To find subject terms, use the blue 'Thesaurus' link in Econlit.
  • Use the 'Advanced' search screen so that you can combine search terms or add limiters.
  • Use 'and' between terms (no quotes) to limit search results.
  • Use 'or' between terms (no quotes) to expand search results.
  • Use () to group search terms. Example: (biofuel or biomass) and supply chain.
  • Use the database's limiters, such a date limit, or document type limit to retrieve journal articles or proceedings only.
  • Collect more subject terms by viewing the subject terms of relevant articles. These are usually hyperlinked and listed just before the abstract (summary)