Communication and Critical Thinking in Biology

Course #: BI296






Finding books on your topics

  • Use Primo advanced search (located beneath the main search box on the library main page) and search for:
    • habitat loss
    • habitat fragmentation
    • habitat destruction
    • loss of biodiversity
    • urban sprawl

Using Web of Science

  • Getting access:
    • Go to
    • Option 1
      • Go to the subject guide for Biology
      • Under Main databases click on “Web of Science Core Collection”
    • Option 2
      • Search under Databases for “Web of Science”
  • In the database Web of Science
    • Using the drop-down menu in “Select a database”
    • Which database are you in?
    • There is a database for “Web of Science Core Collection”
    • There is another database for “BIOSIS Citation Index”
    • All citations in Web of Science are linked through the reference list and citation counts. When an article is written, the reference list is linkable. After the article enters the database, the number of times that it is cited in future articles is also kept track. You can click on this as the ‘times cited’.
    • Using advanced search requires you to use ‘field codes’ before the terms you are searching
      • TS= topic
      • TI=title
      • AU=author
      • SO=source
    • You can link these field codes and search terms with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT, SAME, NEAR)
    • BIOSIS advanced search has the search code TA=Taxonomy which is very useful for searching the literature for a particular organism/plant/bacteria etc.

Using synonyms for keyword searching

  • Databases require nouns to search
  • can help you find additional synonyms
  • Search for articles that you have found – they sometimes include a list of author keywords – you can use these in your search

Additional Notes on Library Resources

Getting the Full-text of an article

Click on the “Get it! @ Laurier” button. You will move into a ‘sfx’ menu (see the URL at the top begins with sfx). If there is more than one resource listed, check the dates. Otherwise click through to the full-text.

InterLibrary Loan

Sometimes you need to use materials that are not available from the library. From the main library menu click on drop down menu for “Services” and click on “Request from other Libraries”. On this page, you can sign on to RACER using your bar code as a login and your last name in lower case as the password. Search for the article that you want and it will be delivered to you.

Journal Finder

A ‘must’ if you have a journal title or citation that you need to track down. This utility will provide links to the full-text of journal articles.

Using Mendeley is a cloud based citation management system. You can sign up for free and then you can use the import tools to get the citation from online into your own database. Using the Word tool you can connect to Mendeley from Word and automatically create a bibliography.

If you need help

Stop by the information desk as you enter the library, use the Ask Us chat box, email or call the library (519-884-0710 x 3222). Please note that the majority of the information staff are not experts in biology so you may have to provide background information for content questions. You can always contact Debbie Chaves, Science Librarian at

Developing your Search Strategy

  • Create a research statement using keywords
  • Use keywords and/or controlled language (subject or descriptor or MeSH)
  • Use Boolean operators to connect keywords
  • Search appropriate database and check more than one database
  • Change approaches as necessary, searching is not a linear process but one where you might have to redo searches
  • Keep identifying new keywords and controlled vocabulary to redo searches

Finding Keywords

  • Develop keywords from concepts from your research question
  • Note possible natural vocabulary keywords and synonyms
  • Create concepts into one to three separate terms
  • Do not type in the entire research question into the search box
  • Do not take the first search response (usual sorting is most recent)


  • Search Statement: Identify potential stem cell methodology that could be used for changing valine to glutamic acid in hemoglobin of people with sickle cell disease.
  • Concept 1: sickle cell anemia
  • Concept 2: hemoglobin
  • Concept 3: stem cell methodology
  • Identify Related keywords
  • Concept 1
    • sickle cell disease
    • Hemoglobin S disease
    • globulinopathies
  • Concept 2
    • Beta chain
    • Beta-globin gene
    • codon nucleotide 6
    • Valine
    • Glutamic acid
  • Concept 3
    • Stem cells
    • Gene silencing
    • Gene splicing
    • Gene transfer techniques
    • Targeted gene repair
    • Genetic engineering
    • RNA antisense

Truncation and Wildcards

  • Truncation allows you to search for variant forms for a single search term
  • Wildcards use a symbol to stand in for a set of letters
  • Examples
    • microb* (searches: microbes, microbiology, microbial, microbacteria, microbiologist, microbiologists)
    • bacteri* (searches: bacteria, bacterium, bacterial)
    • behavio*r (searches: behaviour, behavior)
    • gen* (searches: genome, genomics, gene, genotype, genetic, genetics, genera, genus, GenBank, genera)

Boolean Operators

  • OR eg. fruit fly or Drosophila melanogaster
  • AND eg. bird AND song
  • NOT eg. anxiety disorders NOT animal

Identifying Peer Review Sources

Cite your sources using Council of Science Editors (CSE) Citation Style