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BIOL 431: Cellular Basis of Adaptation


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Morag Coyne
Rm 512 Douglas Library
Queen's University
Kingston, ON.
Placed on administrative leave from Oct. 12 to Dec. 31, 2021. Contact during this time.

In general...

This guide is designed to introduce you to information resources for BIOL 431, either licensed by the Queen's University Library or open access.  Contact for more information about:

  • Information sources for your assignment or project
  • Obtaining resources not at Queen's
  • Designing better strategies for your information searches

Students are welcome to set up apointments for 30 - 60 minute consultations with a librarian.

Research Roadmap

Step 1
  • Define the scope of your project.  Do you need to narrow your topic from a broad, general one?  If so, some things to consider:
    • How established is the research field?  If it is a well-studied field, there will be plenty of literature in a wide variety of formats.  If it is a new topic or idea, there may be very little published about it.
    • Do you want to focus on a particular location, time period, technology, theory, person, group, project, or event? 
    • What do you already know about the topic?  What do you need to investigate?
  • Start a list of keywords to use.  Terminology can change, so this list will need updating as you search.
  • Do background reading to find out more about your topic: check the reference ebook collections like Knovel.
  • Try a general search in Omni to find out the range of books and ebooks published.
Step 2
  • Try an initial, very general search in Web of Science or Pubmed for your topic. 
    • Filter by publication year - how long it the publishing history for this field?  Are there any publication trends?
    • Filter by controlled vocabulary  to see the categories for this topic - this is where you can start narrowing your topic, and gain more keywords/synonyms.
    • Filter by document type, e.g., to see if any review papers about your topic exist.
  • Start a list of key researchers, groups, agencies and labs.
  • Start a timeline, if appropriate.
Step 3
  • Search specialized databases in depth for journal articles, technical reports, theses, etc.
  • Web of Science, Pubmed, OMIM (within Pubmed)
    • Make use of these databases’ features, such as “cite by”, sorting, document type, and controlled vocabulary.
  • Make a list of the databases you have searched, and the keywords you used for each.
  • Check the reliability of your sources if unsure (e.g. Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory).
  • Use a method to manage your citations and use it throughout the search process, e.g. Zotero, MS Word, Endnote