This guide was created for Biochemistry CHEM 453, Winter 2024.

Searching Tips

  1. Think about what you want to know
    The first step to successfully searching is having a mindset of inquiry. Design research questions when you develop your hypothesis, design your experiment, and explain your results. 
    Example: How does salinity affect rates of photosynthesis in Arabidopsis plants? 
  2. Gather a little background info and adjust the question as needed
    Go ahead, Google it. Or look in the library Reference section. 
  3. Narrow the question down to the main concepts and variables
    Example: salinity photosynthesis Arabidopsis
  4. Plan a search with boolean search strategies
    Symbol Example Description 
    " " "breast cancer" Searches the exact phrase found in the quotes. This search will yield articles with "breast cancer," but NOT articles that only contain the word "breast," or the word "cancer," or contain the words separately.
    * bio*

    Signifies a wild card. Will yield articles with the prefix submitted and any ending, such as: 
    biology, biological, biome, biometrics, biography, biotic, etc.

    AND (cats) AND (dogs) Adds search terms to the search, will limit the results to only articles that contain both terms. AND is usually implied, but can be used with parentheses and OR to make the search more precise.
    OR (Arabidopsis OR "A. thaliana") Expands the search, a good way to add synonyms or binomial names to search terms. This example will return any article with either the word "Arabidopsis" or A. thaliana.
    NOT Ash NOT tree Excludes articles that have the term. This will return results with the word "ash" but not if the results also contain the word "tree."
    Example: (salinity OR salt) AND (photosynthesis) AND (Arabidposis OR "A. thaliana") 
  5. Enter your search in a library database
    Try: Web of Science, Biological Abstracts, PubMed, or one of the databases listed here!
  6. Filter and sort your results
    Try the limiters (usually on the left side of database page) or sort the results by most cited, or newest. 
  7. Open, read, re-search