Exploring an Unfamiliar Topic Area with Related Records
Most questions that come through Reference are fairly precise: comparison of bare metal stents vs. drug-eluting stents, in terms of restenosis, survival. But, every so often, the question is very wide-ranging, and in an unfamiliar area. I was faced with “find me novel or innovative tools in tissue engineering”. Tissue engineering is huge. Just the term “tissue engineering/methods” in PubMed yields 5683 articles – and 1000 are reviews. I did find some potentially useful articles in PubMed though:
Artif Organs. 2008 Sep;32(9):742-7. Epub 2008 Jul 30.
The complementarity of the technical tools of tissue engineering and the concepts of artificial organs for the design of functional bioartificial tissues.
Lenas P, Moreno A, Ikonomou L, Mayer J, Honda H, Novellino A, Pizarro C, Nicodemou-Lena E, Rodergas S, Pintor J.
And through PubMed’s Related Citations:
Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2009 Dec;15(4):395-422.
Developmental engineering: a new paradigm for the design and manufacturing of cell-based products. Part II: from genes to networks: tissue engineering from the viewpoint of systems biology and network science.
Lenas P, Moos M, Luyten FP.
That reminded me of a feature in the ISI Web of Science database which uses a different approach to “related” – articles which share a bibliography. The 2009 paper had 110 references in its bibliography – which led to more than 18,000 articles ranked by number of common citations. In this case, more than 50 articles shared at least five bibliographic citations. The underlying concept is that if they cite the same articles, they are probably talking about similar topics.
It’s a wonderful, relatively painless way to build a vocabulary of terms in an unfamiliar area, or in the case of topic which is multidisciplinary to cross into an area which may not have been suspected. Ultimately, the term which was key turned out to be “scaffold”, which I might have discovered eventually, but “Related Records” pinpointed it more quickly.
Learn more about using the Related Records feature in this video tutorial:
Patricia Erwin, Plummer Library (article)
Melissa Rethlefsen, Learning Resource Center (video)