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BIOL/ESCI 304 - Ecology

A guide for BIOL/ENSC 304 students researching environmental topics in the library and on the internet.

Introductory content

General Information:

As you work on your paper and presentation, keep the following tips in mind when searching library catalogs for books and research databases for journal, magazine, or newspaper articles:

Using more search terms will find fewer, more specific results.
For example, “wolves” finds more articles than “wolves and moose”, but not as many of the articles will be relevant to your topic if you want to know specifically how wolf predation affects moose populations.

Specific vs. general terms.

  • Books - you will tend to use more general terms
    • You might not find a book about your species. You might have to get more general by searching for the genus, family, or class.
    • Search for your species/genera/family/class along with "handbook", "guide", field guide", or "encyclopedia" as well as without those terms. Encyclopedias, field guides, guides, and handbooks are a great place to start!
    • Search for both singular and plural ("wolf" and "wolves", for example).
    • For some reason, the order in which you enter your terms sometimes matters. For example, searching for "birds and handbook" brings up a much different set of results than "handbook and birds".
  • Journal Articles
    • Be more specific. For example, don’t use the term “predators” if you mean “gray wolf”, "peregrine falcon", or "northern pike".
    • Remember to search for both singular and plurals. This is especially important if you are searching for a family or class of organisms. For example, search for both "mushroom" and "mushrooms".
    • Use scientific as well as common names. Articles will always use scientific names because there are many regionalisms in common names.

If you are getting thousands of results, you may need to add more search terms, or use more specific terms.

If you are not getting enough results, you may need to use fewer search terms or broader search terms. Or, use an "asterisked" term, such as "ecolog*" to search variations of the term. For example, "ecolog*" will find "ecology", "ecologic", "ecological", "ecologically", and "ecologist".

Off-campus access

When trying to access an e-book or a journal article from off campus, you will be automatically asked for your Last Name, UMID, and library PIN (see image). If you do not already have a library password (PIN), log in with your last name and 8-digit UMID (leave the library password (PIN) field blank). You will then need to enter your log in information once more to create and verify a new library password (PIN).

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