Biotic Interactions/Plant Communication

Course #: BI496

Know when to ask for Help

Searching with Google or Google Scholar

  • Use Library Links to embed the get it! Laurier button for your searches
  • "phrase searching"
  • Use - to exclude a word from your search
  • Use * to match one or more words in a phrase
  • Use ~ for synonyms
  • filetype:pdf or ppt or doc to locate only files of a particular type
  • define: to find the definition of a word
  • AROUND(n) is a proximity search based on the number n. AROUND is capitalized
  • AND and OR also have to be capitalized in a search

Using Keywords to search

  • Start with a clear topic statement
  • Select keywords - usually two or three
  • Find keywords from other articles that you found
  • Based on the keywords, select synonyms, related terms or alternate forms for each keyword
  • Use AND to connect your keywords
  • Select an appropriate search database to use your keywords
  • Review the results and decide if the keywords you are using are specific enough or too broad
  • Use the same strategy when using the genus and species for a particular organism - you may have to look further up the tree to broaden your search

Which database to use?

  • Look at the subject page for biology
  • Use advance search features where appropriate
  • Know that citation searches are different from normal searches - here you are mining the reference list or looks at the times cited for a particular article
  • Finding a review article help be a helpful beginning point to your search strategy
  • You may need to search different databases

How to read a paper?

  • How is the paper organized?
  • Do you know what all of the terms mean?
  • What problem is this paper asking about?
  • Why is this study important?
  • What is the objective?
  • What are the conclusions?
  • What is the supporting evidence?
  • Are there any doubts that this conclusion is right?
  • What would you do next?
  • Was there any bias?
  • Check out science in the classroom for more examples

Template for analyzing the logic of an article

The Logic of “(name of the article)”

  1. The main purpose of this article is __________________________________________________. (State as accurately as possible the author’s purpose for writing the article.)
  2. The key question that the author is addressing is ______________________________________. (Figure out the key question in the mind of the author when s/he wrote the article.)
  3. The most important information in this article is ______________________________________. (Figure out the facts, experiences, data the author is using to support her/his conclusions.)
  4. The main inferences/conclusions in this article are ____________________________________. (Identify the key conclusions the author comes to and presents in the article.)
  5. The key concept(s) we need to understand in this article is (are) _________________________. By these concepts the author means _______________________________________________. (Figure out the most important ideas you would have to understand in order to understand the author’s line of reasoning.)
  6. The main assumption(s) underlying the author’s thinking is (are) _________________________. (Figure out what the author is taking for granted [that might be questioned].)
  7. If we take this line of reasoning seriously, the implications are ___________________________. (What consequences are likely to follow if people take the author’s line of reasoning seriously?)
  8. If we fail to take this line of reasoning seriously, the implications are ______________________. (What consequences are likely to follow if people ignore the author’s reasoning?)
  9. The main point(s) of view presented in this article is (are) _______________________________. (What is the author looking at, and how is s/he seeing it?)
  10. Why did the author write this article ________________________________________________. (Does the author have any bias that should be considered?)

(adapted from the Foundations of Critical Thinking www.criticalthinking.org).

Post Publication Peer Review