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BIOL 2 (Wakim): Research Strategies

Research guide for BIOL 2 - Human Anatomy. Suzanne Wakim's class.

Medical Research Strategies

Research iconWhen conducting research, especially in a database, it is helpful to know the medical or scientific term for what you are researching. For example you may want to research why is the rate of heart disease so high in older women. How do you know that heart disease is the correct term to use? Below are two approaches to finding the most useful terms to use.

  1. Searching Wikipedia or another reference source will supply you with the correct terms. From Wikipedia you can find that heart disease is also called cardiovascular disease. You can also learn the more specific terms such as coronary artery disease or myocardial infarction (commonly called heart attack). You can then use these as search terms in the database.
  2. Use the database to help you. When searching for “heart disease and women” looked at the records of several articles. There are a few things to notice:
  • MeSH Terms or Medical Subject Headings are a standardized way of describing and indexing journal articles in the medical field. These terms help researchers label and find the most relevant research when searching databases.

MeSH Terms

  • Subject Terms are also a great way to find other or more correct ways of describing what you are looking for. They help index articles which helps researchers more easily find what they need.
  • Author Supplied Keywords are supplied by the author of the article to help researchers find their articles.

Subject terms, author-supplied keywords

How to Read a Scholarly Article

Parts of a scholarly article highlighted

What is a Scholarly Resource?

medical journal iconScholarly resources have the following characteristics: ‚Äč

  1. Written by experts - look for credentials or affiliations.
  2. Written for other experts - Each scholarly work is a voice in an ongoing conversation to which you will add your voice when you write a paper.
  3. They use scholarly language with technical, discipline specific vocabulary.
  4. They provide verifiable and reliable evidence for claims. The reader can verify information. Look for citations!
  5. They may be peer reviewed. Many journals go through an editorial process where other experts review and assess the information.

How to Find a Permalink

URL's constantly change both in databases and online. So how can you be sure your link will work when you try to access your research at a later time? Look for a permalink. A permalink is a permanent link to an article that will always take you back to the same article or webpage. When looking for a permalink look for the link icon, "permanent link", "stable URL," "more options," or any wording that indicates the link is not going to change. 

Most database articles will have a permalink option. Watch the short video below to see how to find a permalink in a database. 

Get Organized

Research can be messy and complicated. It is important that you find a style that works best for you to stay organized from the beginning. Below is an example of a traditional index card strategy. Whether you decide to use index cards, a word document, or something else, take a look at the index card below so you know what information you should be recording while taking notes.

Example of Index Card Note Taking Strategy