1 Feb 2010

Literature hack: context search

This is a guest post by Joe Dunckley
Ryan Gregory has just started a new blog: Hackademe. It's a Lifehacker for academics, sharing his tips for scientists who are struggling to cope with all the shiny distractions around them. Here at Journalology towers, we have a whole bunch of these hacks lying around, and I hope we won't be treading on Ryan's toes if we share some of our literature searching and managing tips. (Though Ryan has already discussed reference manager software on his day old blog, so perhaps he has this one covered...)

A very simple one to get us started, then: install context search. Firefox comes with a built-in right-click tool for easy searching of Google for the text on the page that you have highlighted. Context search replaces that search Google tool with a search any-number-of-search-engines tool.

You can add all your own favourite search engines to the menu: just go to the search engine website and use the drop menu in the toolbar search box.

Now you can run through PubMed every unfamiliar gene, disease or researcher you stumble upon while reading, with three easy clicks and no typing. (Warning: novices may find themselves up at two in the morning having followed a long chain of context searches from cell signalling pathways to YouTube videos of snow ploughs on speeding trains.)

Dudes, I don't know how you coped in the olden days of typing your search terms into PubMed, and yet people seriously try to tell me that mankind once worked with "card catalogues" and "interlibrary loan". I'm not buying it, you guys.

1 comment:

T Ryan Gregory said...

Not treading on toes -- but why not submit this tip to Hackademe as well?