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CHE 344 - General Biochemistry II

Resources to help you conduct research for CHE 344

Developing Search Strategies

1.  Develop a research question

What is the topic of your research?

  • Example: hantavirus

Establish which aspect of that topic you are particularly interested in

  • Example: transmission across species barrier

State your topic as a question

  • Example: "What are possible transmission vectors of hantavirus across the species barrier?"

2.  Identify the main concepts in your research question.

  • Example: "What are possible transmission vectors of hantavirus across the species barrier?"

 3.  Develop a list of alternative terms.

  • Example: 
    Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3
    Transmission vector(s) hantavirus species barrier
    Disease vector(s) orthohantavirus cross-species transmission
    Pathogen vector(s)   zoonosis

4. Perform a keyword search.

Keywords are the words or phrases that you enter into database search boxes.  A keyword search usually only looks for your words in the titles and abstracts of references in the database.  Many databases will only find the exact word or phrase that you type, exactly as you spelled it.  This is part of why it's so important to use synonyms while searching.

 

5.  Truncation and Wildcards

Truncation is useful for finding variations of the ending of a word.  Most databases use an asterisk (*) for truncation.

  • Example: "therap*" would find therapy, therapist, therapists, therapeutic, etc.

Wildcards are useful for finding alternative spellings, and can be used anywhere in a word.  Most databases use a question mark (?) for wildcards.

  • Example: "behavio?r" will find both the American spelling "behavior" and the British spelling "behaviour."  

6.  Boolean Operators

Boolean operators consist of "and," "or," and "not."  

OR increases your number of results and is generally used to combine synonyms.

AND decreases your number of results and is generally used to combine concepts and make your search more relevant to your research question.

NOT reduces your number of results by excluding a search term.  This is especially useful if you're searching in a multidisciplinary database and using a term that has different meanings in different disciplines.  For example, a vector in virology is very different from a vector in mathematics or physics.