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BISC207i: Introductory Biology I

Basic steps in searching

Define your search topic in a sentence or two. Think about what you want to know, think about the problem you’re trying to answer. Ask yourself questions such as why is this important, who would benefit, where does it occur. This thought process will help define your topic and narrow it down from something too broad such as “climate change”, to something a bit more specific, such as “the effect of climate change on coastal communities

Identify the major concepts in your topic statement: What are the effects of climate change on coastal communities?

  • climate change
  • coastal community

Create a list of keywords or terms for each concept

  • climate change, global warming
  • coastal community

Select the resources according to needed information

  • General information, background: books, encyclopedias (DELCAT Discovery, CREDO Reference)
  • Current discussion or news reports: newspapers, trade magazines
  • Current research, technical information: journals, patents (databases)

Refine your topic if still too broad. In our example of climate change and coastal communities, you could select a particular effect and coastal community to focus the topic further:

  • effects: ocean temperature; rising sea level; saltwater intrusion
  • communities: coral reefs; beach front property owners; harbors and ports