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BIO207H5: Introductory Genetics

Searching Tips

  1.  Synonyms - Always try to think of other terms that might be used for the topic you are searching.

  2. Broad to narrow - Better to start with a broad search and narrow it down once you make sure the broadest part of your topic finds results. You may need more synonyms if you are not finding any results.

  3. Truncation - * allows you to look up plural, e.g. misconception* and also words with or without hyphens or spaces 

  4. "" - quotation marks keeps two words together as a phrase, e.g. "antibiotic resistance".

  5. Each database has it's own quirks and indexes different articles so try and search in at least one from biology and one from education.

  6. You may find lots of articles relating to students so some aspect of your target audience for the misconception may need to be added to your search.

Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources

Primary Sources:

  • original research
  • usually 1st appearance of results
  • research conducted BY authors of paper


  • Proceedings of meetings, conferences and symposia
  • Technical reports 
  • Dissertations or theses
  • Patents
  • Newspaper articles
  • Data sets, such as census statistics 
  • Listservs, newsgroups, and email
  • Scientific journal articles reporting experimental research results 

Secondary Sources:

  • describe, interpret, analyse, evaluate, comment on, and discuss primary sources
  • repackage and reorganize information


  • Dissertations or theses (may also be primary)
  • Databases
  • Books (may also be primary)
  • Newspaper articles (may also be primary)
  • Review articles
  • Magazine articles

Tertiary Sources:

  • compile, analyse and condense secondary sources into a convenient, easy-to-read form
  • tend to be factual


  • Dictionaries and encyclopedias 
  • Databases (may also be secondary)
  • Textbooks 
  • Course specific webpages

Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources