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NSC230: Experimental Methods in Neuroscience: Search Tips

Spring 2019, M. Harrington

Search Tips

Illustration of Mice

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 dow
n 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 measure or analyze some behavioral tasks performed by mice, specifically C57 and 129
strains of mice, using the following kinds of tests: Barnes maze; open field test; elevated plus maze, rotarod.

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

EXAMPLE: mice, tests, types of behavior

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.

transgenic mice
mutant mice
knock in mice
knock out mice
Inbred C57*


Barnes maze

open field test

elevated plus maze

rota rod

Terms to add if needed:






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

(mice OR c57*) AND (barnes maze) AND memory

Watch video (3 minutes):  Crafting a Savvy Search Strategy (UCLA Library)

Mind Mapping Worksheet

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