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BIOL 404 - Mech. Chronic Human Disease


In this class you will need to search for primary journal articles (also called research articles) on diabetes and athrosclerosis. See below for general tips on finding articles and using Boolean logic for creating a search strategy. Other tabs include telling the difference between primary and secondary articles, tutorials for using PubMed and Google Scholar, as well as tips for finding more articles once you have found an article that really fits your topic.


Where to start? Sometimes, the hardest part about doing library research is coming up with the right terms to use in search engines. You can start with your class reading. Another good place is to check the library's catalog for encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks related to your topic (e.g., "evolution encyclopedia"). You will probably find a narrower topic of interest and the article will help you to decide which keywords to use.

Research databases. Another way to find keywords to use is to do a search in one of the library's research databases. For example, I did a search for "atherosclerosis" in ProQuest and found the article "Inflammation in Atherosclerosis: From Pathophysiology to Practice". Going to the web page for the article, I found that the keywords listed are atherosclerosis, inflammation, and heart disease. This article also lists a number of abbreviations and acronyms that I might use in further searches: CRP (C-reactive protein), GWAS (genome-wide association screen), hsCRP (high-sensitivity C-reative protein), etc.. You can use the subjects and keywords provided by the database and the article to build your search.

Spelling variations. Use all spelling variations in your search. Many English terms are spelled differently in American English and British English. Just a few examples: anemia (anaemia, British), edema (oedema), tumor (tumour), analyze (analyse), and leukocyte (leucocyte).

How to build your search

Using one or two words usually isn't the most effective search strategy. It usually brings up too many results. So, you need to construct a more sophisticated search using Boolean operators.



Show only those results that include all terms (most search engines use the AND operator as the default).

Example: behavior AND atherosclerosis - includes all articles that use both the words behavior and atherosclerosis (the intersection of behavior and atherosclerosis).



Show results that include any of the keywords.

Example: behavior OR atherosclerosis - includes all articles that include either the word behavior or the word atherosclerosis (this also includes all articles for that use both words).



Do not show results that include the "not" keyword.

Example: behavior NOT atherosclerosis - includes only articles that use behavior — minus any that use the word atherosclerosis.



Most search engines and journal databases allow you to "nest" your keywords much like a mathematical equation. This allows you to get much more specific with your search.

Example: (behavior OR behaviour) AND (atherosclerosis) NOT troglodytes — includes articles that contain either spelling of behavior as well as the word atherosclerosis. Any article that uses the species troglodytes, however, will be left out (no articles about chimpanzees will show in your results).

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