Skip to Main Content
Roosevelt University in Chicago, Schaumburg and Online - Logo

Cell Biology

But I Know How to Google...

Using secondary sources like academic databases to search for scientific literature is not the same as searching Google for information. The most effective way to query academic research tools is to develop a search strategy. Developing a search strategy does more than help you locate articles for a paper or presentation, the process of search strategy development aides in refining your research question. 

Why Develop a Search Strategy?

1. Developing a search strategy will help you to define and refine your research question.

2. A search strategy will save you time.

3. A search strategy can make your research path reproducible and understandable.

4.  Developing a search strategy is an iterative process that can inform your research and the sources you select.


Develop a Search Strategy

To develop a search strategy:

1) Identify the main concepts of your research question. These concepts become keywords for your searches.

2) Brainstorm related terms, broader terms/narrower terms and alternative spellings for each keyword

3) Combine terms using Boolean Logic.

4) Identify the tool(s) (databases, catalogs, etc.) relevant to your topic.

Biological Abstracts is a database covering life sciences and biomedical research.  The focus of Biological Abstracts matches my research area, so it is a viable tool to try my search strategy.