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BI155 - Ecology & Evolution Lab - Robertson: Keywords

A research guide for students looking for sources for their ecology & evolution "aquatic locomotion" lab.

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Choosing the Right Keywords

Part of finding what you're looking for is choosing the best search terms, or keywords, for your search.

For your lab, you've collected data on how fast plastic animals (representing various species) can cross a tub of water (unaltered, and after altering their fins, feet, etc. with additional pieces of plastic). Now, you'll have to find related primary scientific articles to use as sources in your lab report's introduction and discussion.

Start by writing a one-sentence summary of what your are looking for. Are you going to find primary articles about plastic wind-up toys in a tub of water? No! Think broadly here:

  • I'm looking for primary articles within the last 10 years about how ducks/fishes/turtles move forward through water.

Now, divide your search into its main concepts:

  1. Animal
  2. Medium
  3. Motion

After you have your main concepts, brainstorm as many synonyms and related terms (broader or more narrow) as you can think of:

  1. Animal- fishes, stingray, birds, ducks, waterfowl, avian, whale, cetacean, frogs, amphibians, turtles; morphology- fins, flippers, feet, webbed feet, toes, webbed toes.
  2. Medium- water, aquatic, liquid
  3. Motion- swimming, movement, locomotion, propulsion, drag, speed, motion, kinematics (study of motion), velocity, hydrodynamics, biomechanics, surface swimmer/swimming, diving.

Now that your have some search terms, test them out in the library's article databases.