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BIO201: Animal Physiology Laboratory: Search Tips

Fall 2014, L. Mangiamele

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.


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 the human heart's response to coffee using an ECG or sphygmomanometer
(blood pressure meter).

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

EXAMPLE: human, heart, coffee, ECG, sphygmomanometer

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.





*=wildcard; will find variations after the last letter of a word.  




blood pressure meter




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:

(human* OR heartAND (ecg OR electrocardiogram OR sphygmomanometer)  AND coffee