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Biology Research Guide

A research guide to introduce you to biology resources at the library, including databases, journals, tools, and other materials.

Reproductive Strategies Database Derby

A zebra shark, which can reproduce sexually or asexually. © Danial Sasse, CC-by-sa 4.0. [Source.]


Activity Instructions:

  1. You'll be separated into 4 groups, and each group will be assigned one of the databases below.
  2. You and your group will perform two simple searches in your database (you can copy/paste each search):
    1. virgin birth
    2. parthenogenesis
  3. For each search, first note how many results you got. Next, skim the article titles and abstracts. Does it look like these results might be relevant for what you're expected to find in this class? Do you see what looks like primary research among your results? 
  4. Take a look around the database. What search features do you notice that could be helpful? How much information can you get about individual articles? Can you get full text? Click around!
  5. As a group, you'll share with your classmates the basic results of your two searches, as well as one thing you liked or thought was interesting, and one thing you didn't like or had a question about.

Database Derby: The Databases

Boolean Logic and Other Tools for Better Searching

Boolean Operators infographic

Imace (c) CC BY Nicole Gustavsen, 

You can use Boolean logic as part of your search strategy to easily scope your searching to bring back more relevant results. The AND operator is used to narrow results, while the OR operator is used to expand them. You can also use the NOT operator to exclude particular search terms from a pool of results. Other tools include quote search (search for a phrase "in quotes" to find that exact phrase), and wildcard (search for all possible endings of a word at once using the asterisk: wild* brings back wilds, wildcard, wilderness, wildland, etc).

How to Read Scholarly Materials

"The hourglass information structure" (general to specific, then back to general) from "How to Read a Book" by Paul N. Edwards

Image from "How to Read a Book" by Paul N. Edwards.

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