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BIOL 210: Keywords

For all students taking a BIOL 210 course.

Figuring Out How To Describe It

Oddly enough, simply figuring out how to describe what it is that you are looking for can sometimes be the most difficult step of your research.  


You know what your hypothesis is, you know how to describe your research topic in a succinct paragraph to anyone who might ask, but how do you break it down into just four or five words that encapsulate everything that it is you are looking for?


In class we will review how to best come up with keywords and how to brainstorm for more.  You can also use the worksheet linked on your left for additional practice!

Keyword Exercise

Fill out the keyword sheet to explore wording that is used to describe your topic.

A simple tool such as a thesaurus may allow you to find keyword variations that can be used to search the library catalog, article databases, etc.

Broadening & Narrowing Your Search(es)

If you are searching by taxonomic group..... Try using broader/narrower categories (Ex:  vertebrate / dog) or common names/scientific names (ex:  dog / Canis lupus)
If you are searching at a particular level of biology... Describe it at the appropriate level  (Ex:  molecules, cells, tissues, organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems,.....)
If you are searching for information in a specific geographic area... Describe it in a larger or smaller geographic context (Ex:  Amazon vs rainforest; Madagascar vs. Africa; Great Barrier Reef vs coral reef)
If you are searching for information in a specific discipline of biology.... Describe it in discipline-specific terms (Ex:  genetics; evolution; ecology; development; physiology; etc.)