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BIOL 2309: Biology Project Lab

Starting the Research Process

Tackling a new topic? Looking for somewhere to start?

Try looking for a review article first. Review articles attempt to summarize the state of research on a scientific topic, and are a great way to get a big picture of a topic. 

Don't overlook the literature cited at the end of the review - the bibliography contains a wealth of information about the key discoveries & main researchers in the field.  

Most databases, including PubMed and Web of Science, will allow you to limit your search to include only review articles or literature reviews.  

Using Google for quick questions?

Make sure you validate your internet source (more options here):

How can I search for more information on this topic?

For research projects in biology, it can be fruitful to use keywords such as:

  • Species name (e.g. pyogenes)
  • Protocol name (e.g. RNAi / RNA interference)
  • Protein/s or gene/s of interest (e.g. Cas9 or topoisomerase)

The scientific literature is so active that typically, more specific terms will yield better results than general ones.  

If you've found one key resource on your topic, searching for the keywords designated by the authors of that paper can also be a quick way to surface more sources. Mining the references/bibliography is another good way to easily access more on-topic resources.

Too many new concepts to define?

Try looking in a reference work such as the Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology.

Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology

Pronunciation Websites

Websites and Blogs

Researching with Websites

Using Google for quick questions? Here are a few websites with advice on how to validate your internet source:

Some science blogs you may find interesting: