Understand the Process
- Information research is an iterative process, meaning a cycle rather than a straight line.
(Please note: the following refers to literature searching; in chemistry, you might also do substance or reaction searching.)
- 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! -->
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Brainstorm Search Words
How does melanin protect our skin from the sun?
Step 1: Break up this research question into two or three main concepts. Ignore extraneous words.
- Concept #1: melanin
- Concept #2: sun
- Concept #3: protection
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: melanin, melanogenesis, melanocyte, pigmentation
- Concept #2: sun, ultraviolet, uv
- Concept #3: protection, shield
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:
(melanin OR melanogenesis OR melanocyte OR pigmentation) AND (sun OR ultraviolet OR uv) AND (protection OR shield)