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BIO 310

BIO 310

Beginning your Research

Tools for beginning your research:


To get ideas about your topic a simple internet search will help. A better way is to search news articles about your topic.

Try your topic in the following databases:


An ethical perspective on a given issue includes an awareness of cause and effect, beneficiary and victim, cost and benefit, expected and unexpected results. Try to think about the immediate and secondary concerns surrounding your issue.

Take, for example, two perspectives on the following issue:

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the worst Ebola crisis in history and is growing faster than it can be contained. Experimental DNA and Recombinant Virus vaccines have been under development for several years and have passed animal testing with reasonable success. Human vaccines have been developed rapidly but are only this month starting to enter small-scale clinical trials.


  1. Director, Medicine Sans Frontiers: The urgency of the Ebola situation warrants immediate FDA approval and deployment of experimental human vaccines in Liberia and Sierra Leone to try to mitigate the spread of the virus before it becomes pandemic.
  2. Director, FDA: A U.S. government agency should never permit experimental vaccines to be used outside of carefully regulated clinical testing, regardless of public need.


This issue is of great significance for the well-being of people in the immediate outbreak area and globally. Genetic research and intervention have shed hope on the situation, but the clock is ticking. What should Congress approve?

If you would like to see more on two different sides of the same issue, try CQ researcher. This will give you a perspective on your topic and help to see both sides of an issue.

Finding Articles

Peer-reviewed articles, or articles written by an academic expert on the subject and reviewed by those with the same credentials, will determine the strength of your topic.

For an example on how to search for a peer-reviewed article check out this YouTube video:


Look for these types of articles in the following databases:

Getting the Full Text of the Article

After the initial search is performed adjust the "Limit to" section of the database. Limits help filter the type of journal. When you select certain items in the filters you can limit your research results by peer-reviewed, full text, the date, journal title, and more. Of note, in some databases filters are called limiters, like the one below, while other databases call limiters filters. Both perform the same function.


Many of our articles are available in full text however not all of them are. If the library does not have the full text of an article that you need we can borrow it from another library through inter-library loan (ILL). While most articles are free to the borrower a small fraction is not and the cost will fall on the one who requested the loan. The library will not borrow this article without the borrower's consent. Also, it takes up to a couple of weeks for materials to come in through ILL so it is advisable to start your research early.

Legal Research

To find U.S. Statutes and Cases, there are two useful sources:

Citation Styles and Research Strategies

Research Strategies

  1. Use wildcards to account for varied word endings, e.g.
    • Vaccin* accounts for vaccine, vaccines, vaccination.
    • Ebola* accounts for Ebola and Ebolavirus.
    • If you go too far up the word stem you will get more irrelevant hits, for example vac* will capture vaccine and vaccines and vaccination, but would also capture vacation and VAC-45. In fact, vaccin* also captures vaccinia which is a virus, so we must pay close attention.
  2. Use synonyms or similar words/concepts with 'OR' between them, e.g. listing the species of the genus: Bundibugyo or Reston or Sudan or Taï Forest or Ebola - You're essentially saying, "any of these words are acceptable in my results." This is particularly helpful when you are looking to increase the number of results
  3. Use 'AND' to incorporate essential concepts, e.g. Ebola and vaccin* and efficacy - You're requiring that all of the words must appear in your results. It will reduce the number of results but increase the relevance.
  4. Sometimes a query combines all of these and can be quite substantial: (Bundibugyo or Reston or Sudan or "Taï Forest" or Ebola) and Ebola* and vaccin* and (DNA or genetic* or recombinant)

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