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BISC 440W: Biodiversity

For help with research, citing or copyright issues, ask Ean Henninger by email or phone, or set up a consultation:  | 778.782.4173 (inaccessible due to library closure)

September 16, 2015: Guiding questions | Workshop handout | Workshop slides

Services for undergrad students

Getting started

  • Use the guiding questions to critically read your paper and identify the main claims, concepts and theories.
  • You may find it helpful to organize your thoughts using a concept map.

Web of Science

Connect to Web of Science


  • Speak the database’s language (using Boolean operators) & get the right stuff faster!
  • Articles aren’t stand-alone publications; they are part of an interconnected web. You can use Web of Science to identify who an author is in dialogue with by looking at the paper’s cited references and citing references.
  • Use the Where can I get this? button to search the library’s holdings and locate the full-text article.

How to use Boolean operators: 

Example: (body size variation OR body size patterns) AND (freshwater fish OR ectotherms) AND (temperature)

  1. Identify the ‘big ideas’ in your research topic
  2. For each ‘big idea,’ brainstorm related words and synonyms for it
  3. Connect the related words together with OR
  4. Put brackets around each group of related words
  5. Combine the ‘big ideas’ together with AND

Search techniques:

Narrow/decrease your search results Expand/increase your search results
  • Adding in a new concept with AND
  • Using quotation marks, e.g. “freshwater fish” instead of freshwater fish
  • Using limiters to refine your search, e.g. limit to “Review” or limit by “Publication Years”
  • Sorting the results by “Relevance” or “Times Cited”
  • Using NOT to filter out irrelevant concepts, e.g. antibiotic NOT antibiotic-resistant
  • Field searching, e.g. searching only within the “Title” field
  • Adding more related terms with OR
  • Using an asterisk, e.g. *ecology for ecology, microecology, macroecology, etc.
  • Using broader keywords, e.g. poikilotherm instead of fish
  • Looking at cited and citing articles, related articles, bibliography

Background information

Search the Library Catalogue


  • If you aren’t familiar with a term or idea you read about in a research paper, check out an encyclopedia or dictionary to get information at a more basic level!
  • To find background sources, include encyclopedia OR handbook OR dictionary OR manual in your search
  • You can find recommendations at the BISC Research Guide
  • If needed, check out the advanced tips on the Catalogue Search Guide


Download Mendeley Desktop


  • Install the bookmarklet to import references your sources to Mendeley
  • To insert in-text citations and a bibliography within your document, install the MS Word/LibreOffice plugin, Cite-O-Matic