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BIOL 4681: Biology Seminar: Getting Started

Getting Started

Choose a Topic

Choosing a topic can be tricky. Below are some tips for choosing a topic:

  • Choose a topic that you find interesting. Research and learning is much more fun when you're interested.

  • Make sure that researchers have published articles on your topic. Do some informal searches in a few library databases to see if you find any articles on your topic.

  • Is your topic too broad or too narrow?
    • If your topic is too broad, you will get too many results in the library databases, which will make you feel overwhelmed. Try narrowing your topic by focusing a particular group, age, species, gender, region, etc. 
    • If your topic is too narrow, you will get too few or zero results to work with. Broaden your topic by removing some details.

  • If you see that articles have been published on your topic, and you don't feel overwhelmed by the number of articles there are, you might have the perfect topic for you!

Tip: Zero results in a database doesn't always mean that there are no articles about your topic. Sometimes you just haven't found the "right" search word(s) yet. Can you find different words that mean basically the same thing?

 

Identify Search Words

Before searching for articles in a database, write down possible keywords you could use for searching. Include all of the following in your list:

  • Key words (nouns) from your research question or topic.
  • Words that are similar to your original keywords.
  • Other similar words that you find while researching.

Search with different combinations of these words. It often takes a few searches before you find a combination of search words that retrieve the results you want.

Stuck?

If you would like assistance related to choosing a topic, searching databases, evaluating information, or accessing articles, feel free to contact Suzi.

Suzi Townsdin's picture
Suzi Townsdin
Contact:
Texas Woman's University Libraries
Rm 102D
P.O. Box 425528
Denton , Texas 76204
(940) 898-3297