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BIOL 499: Senior Department Studies (HC) Fall 2017

Biology 499: Senior Department Studies (Fairman)

Understand the Process

  • Information research is an iterative process, meaning a cycle rather than a straight line.
    • Brainstorm search words -->
    • Explore initial search results -->
    • Refine your research question, and add or remove search words based on your initial search -->
    • Conduct a more targeted search -->
    • Repeat! -->
      <--  <--  <--

Brainstorm Search Words


You stumble upon this article, and it peaks your interest. So you ask yourself:

Is there a relationship between gut bacteria and autism?

Step 1: Step 1: Break up this research question into two or three main concepts. Ignore extraneous words.

  • Concept #1: gut bacteria
  • Concept #2: autism

Step 2: Conduct an initial search with these words, and quickly scan the results

Step 3: Using information from your initial search, add synonyms, acronyms, and variant spellings.

  • Concept #1: gut bacteria, gut flora, intestinal microbiome
  • Concept #2: autism, autistic

Understand Boolean Operators

  • Even if the search engine you are using doesn't require you to enter boolean operators, it is still using them behind the scenes. It will help you to know the logic behind your search
  • AND gives you results that include ALL of your concepts.
  • OR gives you results that include ANY of your concepts.
  • Essentially, you are searching:

(gut bacteria OR gut flora OR intestinal microbiome) AND (autism OR autistic)