Did you know that when there are multiple authors on a paper that the last author is often the head of a department? If you perform a search for articles written by this author, you can get a broader idea of what type of research the department is working on. You can perform this search in Pubmed or Google Scholar. In Google Scholar you will also be able to see how often this author’s articles are cited by other articles – the most cited authors often have the most impact in their field of work.
You can read more about a research group by performing a regular Google search. You can find the name and addresses of the institutions as notes to the author names in the article itself. If you want to contact the author of an article for more information always use the address which is indicated as “Address to which correspondence should be addressed”.
You can read about the research that your supervisor and supervisor’s colleagues perform in the same way. Often a list of publications is provided on a departmental homepage and these may provide you with inspiration for your own research question.
Your explorative search is likely to go hand in hand with your writing of your problem formulation. Use the results of your search to narrow and clarify your problem formulation.
Do you now know how to make an explorative search? Test yourself in the following.