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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.

 

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 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

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.

human*


heart

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

ECG  

electrocardiogram

sphygmomanometer

blood pressure meter

 

  

Add other term(s) to further narrow search

coffee

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 

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

 

Need Help?

Have questions?
Contact Rocco Piccinino, x2951, rpiccini@smith.edu

Or use Ask a Librarian! to live (chat) during Reference Desk hours.