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BIO 491: Senior Seminar

Students working on laptops in mezzanine.Forming your Search String

The more complicated your question, the less likely a search engine can understand it. To get the best result, identify keywords and like terms to create a search string.

Example research question: How does the presence of LRRK2 gene mutations predict the onset of Parkinson's disease?

Keywords: LRRK2, Parkinson's disease

Like terms can include synonyms and also examples of your keywords. If you don't get results from searching your keywords, it doesn't mean that the research doesn't exist. It could mean that the researcher used different language to describe the same topic

  • LRRK2: leucine rich repeat kinase 2, dardarin
  • Parkinson's disease: Parkinson's*

Search strings connect your keywords and like terms together for the best results.

Too many results? Use AND to narrow results

LRRK2 AND Parkinson's disease

Too few results? Use OR to broaden results or use a * to search for anything beginning with that term

LRRK2 OR leucine rich repeat kinase 2 AND Parkinson*

Find Ancestor & Descendant Articles

Use peer-reviewed articles that you've found to discover more research that preceded and followed it.

Ancestor Articles

Ancestor articles came before your article and were used by the authors to form their research. They are located in

  • Footnotes
  • References 
    • Many digital articles have links within their references to other articles
    • If not, search for articles by journal title in Journal Finder.

Descendant Articles

Descendant articles came after your article and cite your article in their research. They can be found

  • Links to "Cited by" in certain databases
  • By searching for your article in Google Scholar and following the cited by link.

students reading in front of periodical display

Also known as peer-reviewed articles, scholarly articles are sources that are:

  • written by experts in the field
  • reviewed by other experts in the field (hence the peer-reviewed)
  • intended for an academic audience

While you can find scholarly articles through general search engines, databases contain a feature where you can narrow your results to only scholarly articles.

Find Subject-Specific Articles:

Find Articles in Multidisciplinary Databases:

Student thumbing through a book in front of library stacks

Books and eBooks often provide a broader overview and cover more information than a scholarly journal article.

You don't need to read an entire book to use it in your research. Use the index at the back of a book to find the information you need.

To find books and eBooks, you can either:

  • Search the NOBLE catalog
  • Browse the stacks for a book related to your topic

QH301-705.5 Biology (General)

QH359-425 Evolution

QH426-470 Genetics

QH471-489 Reproduction

QH501-531 Life

QH540-549.5 Ecology

QH573-671 Cytology

QH705-705.5 Economic biology

If you find an article or book that you can't access, don't pay for it! Instead, submit an Interlibrary Loan request, and you'll receive articles within a few days!

Are you looking for a specific article, like an article that you found referenced in a bibliography? Search for the journal in Journal Finder, linked below: