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Biomedical Engineering

Search Strategies

Concepts and Keywords

When using search engines or library databases, choose the search keywords based on your topic's key concepts. Sample keywords in biomedical engineering can include: biomaterialsbiomedicineclinical engineeringdrug deliverydrug delivery system(s)nanobiotechnology, or synthetic biology. New terminology is constantly emerging, so it is important to look at the keywords associated with relevant articles that you have already found. 

To develop your search question:

  1. Identify your key concepts by writing out your research question and highlighting the main ideas. These become your key concepts, or search terms.
  2. Key concepts can often be described in multiple ways. Identify synonyms for your key concepts to capture even more results. 
  Key Concept Related Terms
Concept 1    
Concept 2    
Concept 3    

Next, you will need to translate your keywords into language that a search engine recognizes.  Here are several strategies:

  • Place quotation marks around two or more words that you would like to keep together as a phrase.  For example, "drug delivery system(s)".
  • Use * to truncate a word.  For example, system* will look for system, systems, systematic, systemic, etc.
  • A concept can be described by more than one word. Use the operator OR to gather all the records that have either keyword. For example, bioengineering OR biological engineering. You can place these within parentheses to isolate a single concept: (bioengineering OR biological engineering).

As you search, you want to look for records that have all the concepts. Use the operator AND to join the different concepts.

Here's what a final search string could look like:

(bioethic* OR ethic*) AND "tissue engineering" OR "regenerative medicine")

Medical Subject Headings (MESH)

These terms may be useful if you are searching in a Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) catalogue such as MEDLINE/PubMed. 

  • Biocompatible materials
  • Biomechanics
  • Bioethics
  • Biomedical and dental materials
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Biotechnology-instrumentation
  • Implants/artificial
  • Computer-assisted methods
  • Medical informatics
  • Nanotechnology 
  • Polymers

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)

These terms may be helpful when searching the library catalogue as well as some databases.

  • Biochips
  • Biocompatibility
  • Bioengineering
  • Bioethics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biological Transport
  • Biomechanics
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Biomedical materials
  • Biosensors
  • Biotechnology
  • Colloids in medicine
  • DNA microarrays
  • Human mechanics
  • Image analysis
  • Image processing
  • Imaging systems in medicine
  • Medical informatics
  • Medical instruments and apparatus
  • Nanotechnology
  • Polymeric drugs
  • Polymers in medicine
  • Prosthesis
  • Recombinant molecules
  • Tissue engineering


Use Omni to search the library's catalogue for books, articles, videos, maps, government documents, music, data sets, open access materials, and more. You can discover materials that are not available at Queen's but that you can freely request either within Omni or through interlibrary loan. 

Boolean Operators