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NWACC Library

Anatomy & Physiology

Get support for studying human anatomy & physiology and completing the assigned research papers.

Make a Search Plan

Use a Search Plan to approach your research strategically.

A search plan has three parts that work together to help you find your sources.

search plan hierarchy with tools, strategies, and you underneath it

Where will you look for information?

Search tools may be open web, like Google, or "deep web" or "hidden web", like Library databases.

Some standard search tools for any topic or subject include:

How will you look for information? What techniques or hacks will you use in the tools you choose?

Explore these helpful strategies.

Keywords down arrow

The words you choose matter; select search terms with care. Avoid putting your search in the form of a question.

"Exact phrase" down arrow

Put 2 or more words inside quotation marks to turn them into a single word; so "black cat" looks for results with these 2 words as a phrase. Without the quotation marks, the tool will look for the words black and cat anywhere in the results.

Suggestions down arrow

Search tools usually make suggestions for keywords and search terms as you type in the search box - Use them!

3 Magic Words down arrow

  • AND - combine keywords or search terms (eagles AND bears); results must have both words
  • OR - include alternatives for keywords or search terms (eagles OR bears); results will have one word or the other, maybe both
  • NOT - eliminates keywords or search terms (eagles NOT bears); results will exclude results that contain the keyword after NOT

Filters or Limiters down arrow

Overwhelmed by search results? Limit by picking filters such as date or source type (academic journal, ebook, etc.).

What will you do as you search and start finding results?

You need to be:

  • Flexible - Be willing to change directions based on what you find, or don't find. This could mean changing your strategies, your search terms, and possibly your working thesis or even your topic.

  • Persistent - Try, and then try again. Maybe switch up your strategies or change your search tool. Consider your keywords or search terms - remember, the words you choose matter and they can make or break a search.

  • Willing to Ask for HELP - Freshman and sophomores in college aren't expected to know how to do college-level research. You are beginners who are learning quickly. Know when to ask for help. The Library and your instructor are great resources. Use them!

Search Strategy Examples

Search Terms

Use keywords (search terms) instead of asking a question.

Drug Research

  • Search by the generic drug name if the brand name doesn't work - for example: Botulinum toxin instead of Botox.
  • Try another search tool if you don't get results because not every drug is in every tool or book.

Disease Research

  • Search by the clinical name if the common name doesn't work - for example: Rubeola instead of measles.
  • Try another search tool if you don't get results because not every disease is in every tool or book/

3 Magic Words

Use these to words to combine and omit search terms or keywords.AND = both search terms OR = either search term NOT = first search term only in results

Filter / Limit

Limit your search results by filtering. Helpful filters include:

  • Date - Select information 5 years old or newer for treatment and dosing information.
  • Source type - Pick books/ebooks for overviews and journals for technical, scholarly treatments