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BIOL 130: Walsh: Search Tips

A research guide for researching databases for research related to professor Walsh's Current Issues Project in Biology.

Keep track of keywords

Make a list of keywords on your topic.  For example, if you are looking for information about climate change, try using the following KEYWORDS when searching the library databases or library catalog:

  • climate change 
  • global warming
  • warming planet
  • greenhouse effect
  • greenhouse gases
  • environmental policy
  • environmentalism
  • climatic change

As you do your research, keep a list of keywords that help you get to the information you are looking for.

Keywords vs. Subject terms

keyword search will retrieve articles that have that keyword anywhere in the text. For example, using the keyword "climate change" you might find an article about Giant Squids that mentions climate change once on the last page. Keywords help you do a broader search, but keyword searches also give you results that may not be relevant to your topic.

A subject search finds articles on that subject. For example, using the subject term "climate change" will give you articles about climate change. It can be hard to figure out the right subject term, but once you find it it will always take you to results that are about your topic.

Tricks for Searching

Once you have identified some good keywords, you can combine those keywords in different ways:



Results (red) that contain both Moroccan AND

AND narrows a search, producing fewer but more relevant results.




Results (red) that contain either vegetarian OR vegan or both.

OR broadens a search, resulting in more hits.




Results (red) that contain Venus but NOT planet.



Another good search trick is truncating by using the symbol *Truncating a term such as education allows you to search for a range of word endings within one search:

Educat*  -->searches for --> educatION   educatIONAL    educatOR    educatE