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Research Guides | Library | Amherst College

BIOL-104: Food, Fiber, and Pharmaceuticals

Try these databases first

Basic searching

Identify your concepts
When searching for a topic, first it's best to break it up into keywords according to the main concepts.
For example, if you're interested in whether local farmers might see flax as a viable crop, your keywords might be:

  • flax
  • farm
  • Massachusetts

Generate more keywords
Next, you should think about other keywords that might also describe your topic. This helps make sure you don't miss relevant articles.

For example: flaxseed is sometimes known as linseed, crop might be a related term for farm, and Massachusetts might be expanded to New England and still be relevant.

Combine keywords to narrow or expand
Next, you can use the drop-downs with AND, OR, and NOT to tell the database to include or exclude various terms.

Flax AND farm will only retrieve articles with both terms, which creates a narrower search:

Flax OR linseed will retrieve articles with either term, or both (together with farm OR crop), which creates a broader search:

Find additional subject terms

Finally, you can look at the Subjects that are included in relevant records to discover terms that you hadn't thought about including.