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BIO155 (2016): Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation Laboratory: Search Tips

Fall 2016, M. Pratt

Search Tips

Whether you are searching for books in the Five College Library Catalog, or searching for scholarly articles in a library database, 
it pays to be organized as you start your search. Break down searching into a three step process.

 

STEP 1
Write down as much information about your topic as possible. Answer the following questions:

  • What is your topic?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What do you know? What don't you know?

Then, try to summarize what you are looking for in one or two sentences.

EXAMPLE: I would like to learn more about primates, specifically in regard to conservation.

STEP 2
Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.

EXAMPLE: primates, conservation

STEP 3
Now create a list of synonyms of your key concepts. Think broadly, think narrowly! This step is helping you expand your search
by expressing your query in a variety of ways. If you get too many results, then you can work on focusing your search.

 

primate*

ape*

*=wildcard; will find variations in a word. In this case, those after the letter "e". 

conservation

ecology

biodiversity

environment*

Add other term(s) to further narrow search

You will use the word lists you developed in Step 3 to create search strategies. Use "OR" between synonyms and "AND" between
concepts. For instance:

(primate* OR ape) AND (conservation OR ecology OR biodiversity OR environment*) 

Download this worksheet (with bonus search tips!) to help you organize your search strategy.

 

Get help from Rocco Piccinino

Rocco Piccinino, Science Librarian

Contact:

413-585-2951
rpiccini@smith.edu
Young Library 106
 working remotely as of March 20, 2020

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