Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

BIO 101: Getting Started

The Key to Research

Magic Cube, Cube, Puzzle, PlayMagic Cube, Hand, Puzzle, Toys

The Key to Good Research -- Patience is a Virtue!!!

Basic Research Steps

  • Select an interesting and doable topic.
  • Identify each component of your topic.
  • Select appropriate terms to describe the components and use truncation as appropriate.
  • Determine the correct use of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT).
  • Select fields to search if appropriate (author, title, subject).
  • Limit your results as necessary (date, scholarly vs. popular, etc.).
  • Evaluate your results and rethink your strategy as necessary.

Know Your Topic--Background Information

When you begin a research project, do some background reading about the topic, especially if the topic is new to you. Background reading can help with the following:

  • gives you an overview of the topic
  • tells you the various aspects or facets of a topic to help you broaden or narrow your research
  • provides vocabulary words (a.k.a. keywords) associated with the topic to use in a computer search
  • provides names of important people or organizations related to your topic
  • can provide a bibliography of  books and articles on the topic

Remember: Patience is a Virtue. Taking the time to do some background reading will have big rewards!

Below are some good online resources to use for background:

Know Your Topic - Examine Relevant Books

Another strategy is to locate a book on your topic and examine the chapter titles in the table of contents and entries in the index at the back of the book to learn more about aspects of the topic that could narrow your research question.