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BIO 491: Senior Seminar: Home

Course Description

BIO 491: Senior Seminar provides students the opportunity to conduct original research on a topic in biology and write and research on that particular topic.

The Course Guide to BIO 491 provides quick access link to top resources in biological research.


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View a list of top library databases you can use to search for scholarly journal articles on topics in Biology.


View a list of biology related journals, both peer-reviewed and popular sources, available at Jenks Library.  Use the Journal Finder search interface to find other academic journals both in print and online.  

Web Resources

View a list of common websites and other web resources for accessing resources in topics related to Biology.  Also view web information evaluation tips to ensure the information you are finding is creditable, reliable, and accurate.  

Research Process

  1. Define the Problem
    Identifying your research problem or question in the initial stages of research is the key to starting the research process. Your question will act as your roadmap to how you will conduct your research.
  2. Conduct Background Research
    Familiarize yourself with your topic by doing some initial searching.  This can be in encyclopedias, dictionaries, web resources, newspapers, popular magazine articles, and more.  Use this preliminary research to inform your understanding of the topic.
  3. Develop a search plan
    Using your research problem/question and your background research develop a search plan.  This includes both the keywords you will use when searching for sources and the type of information you will look for.  
      Look at your research problem/question and identify the key nouns that appear in the topic.  These often form a good starting place for your keywords.  Once you have identified 2-3 keywords to start your search, then think of some potential synonyms for your keywords.  
                       methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus OR MRSA OR staph AND
                       hospital acquired
    2. Note the use of the search operators AND and OR above.  This is how search strings are connected together so the database understands how to conduct the search.  
  4. Gather sources
    Use the "Databases" tab on this course guide for suggestions on Biology related databases that you might begin searching for scholarly journal articles.  Enter each one of your keywords onto a separate line to start searching. 
  5. Read, analyze, and interpret sources
    Analyze your search results, paying attention to the article titles and what journal they are published in.  Click on the title of interesting articles to read the abstract (summary) to get familiar with the article.  Make sure you save promising articles somewhere you can find again like Zotero or your EBSCO folder.
  6. Revisit the search plan and refine search strategy
    Use the information you have found from the promising articles and revisit your search plan.  How does this information you have found impact your initial keywords?  Try looking at the subject or descriptor words on an articles for keyword ideas.  

Zotero Reference Management Tool

A useful strategy for research is to identify an organization method that works for you as you gather your research.  Keeping yourself organized as a research will help you better make connections between sources and help further your ideas.  One tool you can use to help keep yourself organized is Zotero.  Zotero is a reference management software that helps you store, organize, and cite information. 

The Zotero tool is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux users.  You can choose to download "Zotero for Firefox" which will link with your Firefox browser or download the "Zotero Standalone" option which will allow you to use the web browser of your choice.  If you are using the Standalone client, first download Zotero and then add the appropriate browser extension for your prefered web browser.