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BIO 460 / CHM 460: Biochemistry

Steps for a Successful Search

Steps for a Successful Search


1. Choose a topic. Brainstorm 2-3 concepts within that topic or that relate. 

For example, your topic is COVID-19. Let's say that you also want to focus on whether masks are effective preventive measure.

Your concepts are COVID-19, masks


2. Think of any and all words that could describe each of those key concepts (synonyms, related words, other forms of the word, etc.). This is a hard part of process and you usually end up gathering more word variants as you search.

For example:

COVID-19: Coronavirus Disease 2019, Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, virus SARS-CoV-2

Masks: Face coverings, cloth face coverings, PPE, facemasks



3. Connect those words with AND / OR / NOT. Use parenthesis to group terms just like you would in math, so the database will search for the terms in parentheses first, and THEN search for everything else

(Coronavirus Disease 2019) AND (face coverings)

(Novel Coronavirus COVID-19) AND (facemasks)


Advanced Search Tips

  • Review articles are excellent sources for more information about research on a specific subject
  • Find one good article on your topic and let it lead you to others on your topic using:
    • Subject Headings
    • Find Similar Articles
    • Bibliography/Works Cited
  • Find one good article on your topic and check to see what articles have cited that article since it was written (SciFinder does this)


Boolean Phrase Searching

Using the words AND, OR, NOT while you search will retrieve preferred results. Each of those three words serve a different purpose.

  • AND - Narrows your search (Use between your concepts)

  • OR - Broadens your search (Use between synonyms) 

  • NOT - Tells the search engine to only return results without this word

For example, lets say you want to find an article about single cell reproduction.  Words that might help you retrieve a good number of articles without being overwhelmed are "single cell," "microorganism," "reproduction," and "propogation." 

Therefore, your search phrase could be:

(Single Cell OR microorganism) AND (reproduction OR propogation)

How to Get the Full Text of Articles

1. Click on any link for "Full Text" to see if it will bring you to the full article. Also try links like "Find at Le Moyne Library" 

2. Use the Find Article By Citation option or check the Journal Finder to see if the library subscribes to that e-journal. If we do, simply click through to the correct issue and then the correct article. (Look at your citation to find this information).

3. If neither of those two options gets you full text, use interlibrary loan to request the article. It's free, easy and quick!

4. You can always email Kari at and ask for help with getting full text!

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