Skip to Main Content

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.
  Crafting a Research Question

Suppose I have this research question:

"What do pollinators do for the environment?"

What's the trouble with this question? How could I narrow this down?


Write Your Own!

A perfect research question is “just right” – not so big that there are a hundred different ways you can answer it, and not so small that nobody has ever written anything about it.

How would you refine this question? Think of a couple different angles you could use to approach the question of pollinators and the environment.


Search Queries

At this point in the research process, we may be tempted to jump right in and start searching. But one thing that’s important to remember: databases and search engines are incredible, but they are not smart! They will only search for what you tell them to, and nothing more.

If someone is using a different term for the same concept, your search may not bring up their work – i.e. searching for “film” and missing work on “cinema”.


We get around this by brainstorming synonyms to these terms before we begin our search.

Head to the class Google Doc and we'll come up with keyword synonyms together.


Suppose you found this article while searching for sources for your assignment. Is it reliable? Why or why not?