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Discovery Seminar - Biodiversity - Martin - Fall 2021

This guide is a companion to the in-class library session for the Biodiversity: Library of Life Discovery Seminar.

Databases and search engines don’t use natural language like we do - we know this from basic Google searches.

We could do a Google search like this:

Long natural language search query

However, it's more efficient to do a search like this:

Shorter keyword-focused query

What you’re doing when you shorten your question like that is distilling it down to the key concepts or “keywords”.


In many databases, you can use a wildcard character to retrieve results of all words that start with the letters before the wildcard. Often, this character is *.

So when searching for "pollinat*", you will get results for: pollination, pollinators, and pollinating.


Boolean Operator Infographic

Created by the University of Wisconsin Whitewater.