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Biology: Getting Started

Choosing a Topic

Before you begin your research you need a topic.  To get topic ideas and background information, look at encyclopedias, textbooks, professional society websites, journals, news sites, or newspapers.

When you're reading about your topic, write down some keywords or phrases.  These terms will help you when you're ready to search for articles.

Searching for your topic

Write down the topic you're interested in researching

Example: Migratory patterns of Killer Whales in the Pacific


Breakdown you topic into keywords. 

Example: Migratory patterns of Killer Whales in the Pacific


Next, right of list of synonyms for each keyword


Migratory patterns - migration, migrate, range, habitat     Killer Whales - Orca, Orcinus orca     Pacific - Pacific Ocean


Choose a database and plug the keywords into different search boxes.  If you only have one search box, you can use an AND in between the words

Example: Migratory patterns AND orcinus orca AND pacific ocean

Electronic Encyclopedias

Professional Society Websites

Hint for Searching for a topic 

When searching for a topic on an association or society website, you may want to start your search by looking at the "news" or "media" page of the website.  This will give you an idea of what topics or issues are important to the association/society, as well as topics they may have recently published about. 

Biology News Articles

Please keep in mind that News Articles are just that....NEWS!!!! News Articles are meant to give you an idea of the current topics or issues within a discipline, however the information they present may not be accurate. You will need to go back to the original source, the original research article, before using any of this information in your academic papers.  If you need help accessing an original article contact a librarian

National Science Foundation - Biology News

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Biology News Net

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