Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Biological Sciences: Research Tips

A Campus Guide for students of the biological sciences.

Effective Research Strategies

Selecting a Topic

·         Browse your text book, great place to start since it is the first source that you have available.

·         Browse articles relating to biology in the popular press, such as Science News, Discover, New York Times.

·         Listen to the news for reports regarding genetics, biotechnology, endangered species.

·         Browse biology related sites such as American Association for the Advancement of Science http://www.aaas.org/

·         Browse biology related books (e.g.., Encyclopedia. of Life Sciences), and journals like Science and Nature.

·         Go over your class notes, since your professor and classmates will mention topics during class discussions that you would like to be more educated about.

·         Most important, select a topic that is interesting and will keep you motivated to do the research.

 Defining a Topic

·         Initially, your topic will be TOO BROAD. An example is foraging     (ask yourself, what about a topic that you would like to focus on).

·         Once you have decided on a topic, do some background reading and this will help you to focus on a specific aspect of the topic.

·         As you read more and more about your topic, you will be able to focus on a specific area of interest, thus narrowing your topic.  

 ·         You may need to modify your topic several times to get it just right.

  Narrowing a Topic

·         Focus on an behavior such as scatter  hoarding or caching of food  

 ·         Focus on a specific population: squirrels

 Documentation and Citation of Sources

           It is very IMPORTANT to keep correct documentation of the sources used during the research for these reasons:

  • If the ideas and thoughts are not original yours, you must give credit to the owners of the works, otherwise this will result in plagiarism.
  • Using the works of others without giving credit to the owners is also a violation of the copyright law.
  • Proper citations enable your instructor and others to check the cited sources.